Freimann, Aron

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FREIMANN, ARON (1871–1948), German scholar, historian, and bibliographer. Freimann was born in Filehne (Wielen), Poznan, the son of the local rabbi, Israel Meir Freimann. In 1898 he began working at the municipal library in Frankfurt, and under his direction the library in Frankfurt assembled one of the richest collections of Judaica and Hebraica in the world. He retired in 1933 when the Nazis came to power and immigrated to the United States in 1938. Between 1939 and 1945 he served as consultant in bibliography to the New York Public Library.

An industrious and erudite scholar, Freimann was the author or editor of scores of books and articles. In the field of bibliography one of his most important works is a systematic catalog of the Judaica collection of the Stadtbibliothek in Frankfurt on the Main, Stadtbibliothek Frankfurt a. M. Katalog der Judaica und Hebraica (vol. 1: Judaica, 1932); unfortunately, he was unable to complete the second part of the catalog, which was to have included the Hebraica collection. In Thesaurus Typographiae Hebraicae Seculi xv (1924–31), Freimann provided a complete collection of samples of facsimiles of all known Hebrew incunabula; this work also remained incomplete, missing the introduction and the discussion of the facsimiles. A most useful bibliographical reference tool is his A Gazetteer of Hebrew Printing (1946), in which he listed all the cities where Hebrew books were known to have been printed. For many years Freimann was working on a union catalog of all Hebrew manuscripts, but this work also remained incomplete. Freimann's handwritten cards, representing the material culled from all major and minor collections of Hebrew manuscripts, were photographically reproduced after his death as Union Catalog of Hebrew Manuscripts and Their Location (1964). Between 1900 and 1922 Freimann was the editor of the journal Zeitschrift fuer Hebraische Bibliographie, in which many of his bibliographical articles appeared.

Among Freimann's important historical works are Geschichte der Israelitischen Gemeinde Ostrowo (1896); a history of the Jews of Frankfurt in collaboration with I. Kracauer, Frankfort (Eng., 1929); an edition of H.J.D. Azulai's diary, Ma'gal Tov ha-Shalem (1921–34); and a collection of texts relating to Shabbetai Ẓevi, Inyanei Shabbetai Ẓevi (1912; index 1931). He was coeditor of Germania Judaica, a collection of monographs on medieval German Jewish communities (2 vols., 1917–34, 1963–68). From 1929 to the Nazi take-over he was also one of the editors of Zeitschrift fuer die Geschichte der Juden in Deutschland. Of his works in other fields his edition of L. Zunz's Die synagogale Poesie der Juden (1920) is particularly valuable. Freimann supplied many references and indexes to this classic work, making it much more useful than it had been previously. He also edited several Festschriften in honor of scholars, such as Berliner Festschrift (1903), Brann-Festschrift (1919), and Simonsen-Festschrift (1923).

In addition to his scholarly activities Freimann was active in Jewish communal life and in Jewish educational institutions. He was affiliated with the *Mekizei Nirdamim society from 1909 to his death, serving as president and board member. He owned a private collection of rare Hebraica and Judaica, part of which he sold to the library of Hebrew Union College in Cincinatti. On the occasion of his sixtieth birthday a Festschrift was edited in his honor by A. Marx and H. Meyer (publ. 1935), which included a short poem by Ḥ.N. Bialik and contained a complete bibliography of his writings to that time.


A. Marx and B. Cohen, in: paajr, 17 (1947–48), xxiii–xxviii; S.D. Goitein, in: ks, 25 (1948/49), 109–12.

[Menahem Schmelzer]