Loew, Immanuel

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LOEW, IMMANUEL (1854–1944), Hungarian rabbi and scholar. Loew was the son of Leopold *Loew whom he succeeded in 1878 as rabbi of Szeged, Hungary, and whose collected works he published (5 vols., 1889–1900). He studied at the Hochschule fuer die Wissenschaft des Judentums in Berlin and at the Leipzig university. The new synagogue in Szeged, one of the most beautiful in the world, was built in 1903 according to Loew's plans (the architect was L. Baumhorn) and its stained-glass windows were made according to his designs. During the "white terror" and counterrevolution in Hungary (1920–21), Loew was imprisoned for 13 months on the allegation that he had made statements against Admiral Horthy. During his imprisonment he worked on his four-volume work, Die Flora der Juden (1924–34). From 1927 he represented the Neolog (non-Orthodox) communities in the upper chamber of the Hungarian parliament and also was a member of the Jewish Agency for Palestine. Soon after his 90th birthday, the Germans occupied Hungary and Loew was first sent to a brick factory in the local ghetto and then put on a deportation train. In Budapest, however, he was freed by Zionist workers. He died that year in Budapest.

Like his father, Loew was a great preacher in the Hungarian language, and several hundred of his sermons were published in four volumes between 1900 and 1939. On the occasion of his congregation's centenary he published (with Z. Kulinyi) the congregation's history (1885) and that of its ḥevra kaddisha (with S. Klein, 1887). In 1883 he published a prayer book (in Hungarian) for women, and rendered the Song of Songs and some psalms into the same language.

Loew's fame as a scholar rests above all on his pioneering work in the field of talmudic and rabbinic lexicography and in the study of realia (artifacts, such as a coin from talmudic times). He contributed to W. Gesenius' famous Bible dictionary (10th ed., 1886; 11th ed., 1890), and to K. Brockelmann's Lexicon syriacum (1895). Loew made critical annotations to S. Krauss' Griechische und lateinische Lehnwoerter im Talmud, Midrash und Targum (1899), and to the same author's supplement volume to Kohut's Arukh ha-Shalem (1937) and to his Talmudische Archaeologie (1910–12) which was dedicated to Loew and thus saved the author many etymological errors. There are also notes of his in J. Theodor-Ḥ. Albeck's edition of Genesis Rabbah, 3 pt. 2 (1965), 127–48ff. He also wrote on Jewish folklore. The special direction of Loew's scholarly interest in realia is already evident in his doctorate thesis Aramaeische Pflanzennamen (1879), and in his Meleagros aus Gadaraund die Flora Aramaea (1883). Half a century later this line of research found its triumphant achievement in Die Flora der Juden (4 vols., 1924–34). Loew systematically uncovered the basis of flora terminology in the Hebrew and Aramaic of different periods and mastered the latest descriptive and terminological methods prevailing in this field of science. He familiarized himself with the literary sources for flora and made meticulous use of manuscript material. He clarified etymologies with the help of Semitic languages, especially Syriac. The result is a flood of light shed on biblical, talmudical, and rabbinical botanical terms; not only the past flora but also that of present-day Israel is brought to life. It was only natural that Loew should proceed to the realm of fauna and of minerals, and in both these fields he published a number of studies in various periodicals and other learned publications. The manuscript of a Mineralien der Juden, ready for publication, became a victim of the tragic events of 1944. Loew's other literary remains in these fields passed partly to the National and University Library of Jerusalem and partly to the *Landesrabbinerschule, Budapest. His essays on fauna and minerals were reissued in 1969 (Fauna und Mineralien der Juden) together with an introduction by Alexander Scheiber.


E. Frenkel, in: Festschrift I. Loew (1934), 236–55 (a bibl.); idem, in: A. Scheiber (ed.), Semitic Studies in Memory of I. Loew (1947), 6–11 (bibl.); A. Scheiber, ibid., 1–6 (Hung.), 357 (bibl.).

[Alexander Scheiber and

Menahem Zevi Kaddari]