Hofmann, Isaac Loew

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HOFMANN, ISAAC LOEW (1759–1849), Austrian financier; leader of the Vienna Jewish community. Orphaned at the age of 13, he studied Talmud in Prague and then was employed as tutor and bookkeeper in the house of J.B. Koenig-swart (*Koenigswarter). Subsequently he married his employer's granddaughter and became manager of the business on its transfer to Vienna in 1788. In 1798 Hofmann established the manufacture of silk in Austria, thereby freeing the country from her dependence on Italian imports; for this purpose he was permitted to acquire an estate in Lower Austria. He also was instrumental in the development of a potash industry. In 1830 he unsuccessfully petitioned Francis i for a title, but under Ferdinand i, in 1835, he was knighted as Edler von Hofmanns thal. His coat of arms depicted a silkworm, a mulberry leaf, a poorbox, and the decalogue. Hofmann was very active in the Vienna Jewish community (from 1806). He was especially concerned with charitable institutions and the school system. He was one of the founders of the Vienna Temple, and deeply opposed extreme Reform tendencies within the community. On the Vienna board of deputies, Hofmann represented the conservative viewpoint and was influenced by Mordecai *Banet. He opposed I.N. *Mannheimer's reforms, and invited the Orthodox rabbi Lazar *Horowitz to Vienna. Hofmann's son Augustus, the father of the Austrian poet, Hugo von *Hofmanns thal, became a convert to Roman Catholicism.


AZDJ, 3 (1839), 105–06; Dr. Bloch's Wochenschrift, 28 (1911), 265–67; H. Schnee, Die Hoffinanz und der moderne Staat, 4 (1963), 335; M. Grunwald, Vienna (1936), index.

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