Ettlinger, Jacob

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ETTLINGER, JACOB (1798–1871), German rabbi and champion of neo-Orthodoxy. After receiving preliminary instruction from his father, Aaron Ettlinger, Klausrabbiner, a local rabbi in Karlsruhe, Jacob continued his studies under three eminent rabbis: Asher Wallerstein, Abraham Bing, and Wolf Hamburger. He was one of the first Jews admitted to the University of Wuerzburg, but was forced to leave because of an antisemitic outbreak. In 1826, he was appointed Kreisrabbiner ("district rabbi") for the districts of Ladenburg and Ingolstadt and settled in Mannheim, where he founded a yeshivah that attracted numerous students including Samson Raphael *Hirsch. Ten years later, he was appointed chief rabbi of Altona, a post which he retained until his death. The yeshivah which he established in that city was attended by Israel (Azriel) *Hildesheimer.

An unswerving traditionalist, Ettlinger reacted to the conference of Reform rabbis in Brunswick (1844) by rallying many of his colleagues in protest against what they considered the gravest threat to Judaism's future. A notable result of this move was Ettlinger's decision to publish works reflecting the stand of Jewish Orthodoxy, among them his pamphlet, Shelomei Emunei Yisrael, and Der Zionswaechter, a journal of traditionalist thought, with a Hebrew supplement, Shomer Ẓiyyon ha-Ne'eman, edited by S.J. Enoch (1845). He was the last rabbi to preside over the Altona bet din before its jurisdiction in civil matters was revoked by the Danish authorities in 1863. In the following year, Denmark ceded Altona with Schleswig-Holstein to Prussia and Ettlinger made such a favorable impression on the Prussian king, William, during his visit to Altona in 1865, that the rights previously enjoyed by the Jewish community under the Danes were reconfirmed by royal decree. An outstanding halakhist, Ettlinger published the following works (all printed at Altona, unless otherwise indicated): Bikkurei Ya'akov, on the laws concerning the festival of Tabernacles (1836; 2nd ed. with the addition Tosefot Bikkurim, 1858); Arukh la-Ner, glosses on various talmudic treatises (on Yevamot 1850; 2nd ed. Piotrkow 1914; on Makkot and Keritot 1855; on Sukkah 1858; on Niddah 1864; on Rosh ha-Shanah and Sanhedrin, Warsaw, 1873); Binyan Ẓiyyon, responsa (1868), and its sequel, She'elot u-Teshuvot Binyan Ẓiyyon ha-Hadashot (Vilna, 1874); Minḥat Ani, homilies (1874; 2nd ed. Frankfurt, 1924) and a number of sermons in German. A collection of his articles and addresses was published by L.M. Bamberger (Schildberg, 1899). Through Hirsch and Hildesheimer, Ettlinger exerted an incalculable influence on the course of neo-Orthodoxy in Germany. His great modesty is reflected in his will which stipulates that only the barest details be inscribed on his tombstone.


A. Posner and E. Freimann, in: L. Jung (ed.), Guardians of our Heritage (1958).

[Shlomo Eidelberg]