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Margulies, Samuel Hirsch


MARGULIES, SAMUEL HIRSCH (1858–1922), rabbi and scholar. Margulies was born at Brzezan in Galicia; he was a descendant of Rabbi Ephraim Zalman Margolioth. *Margulies laid the foundations of his talmudic-rabbinical knowledge at home. In 1878 he entered the university and the Jewish Theological Seminary at Breslau. In 1883 he took a degree in Semitic Languages at the University of Leipzig. He served from 1885 to 1887 as rabbi of the Congregation Newe Shalom in Hamburg; from 1887 until 1890 he was the rabbi of the congregation at Weilburg, in Hesse-Nassau.

When in 1889 the Jewish community of Florence advertised in Jewish newspapers in Italy, France, and Germany that the position of chief rabbi was vacant, Margulies answered the call and he was appointed chief rabbi of Florence. Margulies' dealings with the Jewish community of Florence were not too easy at the beginning. The community looked with a suspicious eye at the foreign rabbi with distinctive Zionist ideas. Nevertheless, his personal charm as well as his teaching abilities soon established him as the undisputed spiritual leader of Florence's Jewish community.

When in 1899 the *Collegio Rabbinico Italiano was transferred to Florence, Margulies became its head, and thus trained several generations of Italian Jewish spiritual leaders. Altogether he did much to revive Jewish life and consciousness in Italy and to foster contacts between Italian and other European Jewries. He founded Rivista Israelitica in 1904, the learned journal of his seminary (1904–15), and was one of the initiators of the weekly Settimane Israelitica (later named Israel). Margulies also established several charitable institutions in Florence.

Margulies published several essays in Berliner's Magazin and in the Monatsschrift; he wrote Saadja Alfajûmi's Arabische Psalmen-Uebersetzung, published at Breslau in 1884, an edition of Saadiah's Arabic translation of the Psalms from a Munich manuscript with German translation and commentary; From his German period there are also Zwei Pesach-Predigten, published at Frankfurt-on-the-Main in 1888, and Dichter und Patriot, on the life and work of D. Levi, published at Treves in 1896. His later writings include "Schwertlied Ezechiels" (also in Hebrew, in Scripta Universitatis… Hierosolymitanarum…, 1 (1923)); articles in his own (Rivista Israelitica) and other periodicals; and volumes of sermons, among them Discorsi Sacri (1891, repr. 1956). An autobiographical note appeared in his Discorsi e Scritti vari (1923).

Margulies was a leading advocate of the 1920 "Jewish Commune" experiment in Florence, which caused disagreements between Zionists and non-Zionists Jews. Margulies died on Purim day, 1922, while he was talking to the children of the Jewish School.


D. Disegni, in: L. Jung (ed.), Guardians of Our Heritage (1958), 447ff.; J.M. Pacifici, in: L. Jung (ed.), Men of the Spirit (1964), 645ff. add. bibliography: G. Celata, "Cinquanta anni dalla scomparsa di S.H. Margulies," in: rmi, 38:4 (1972), 195–221; L. Viterbo, "La nomina del Rabbino Margulies," in: rmi, 60 (1993), 67–89.

[Umberto (Moses David) Cassuto /

Samuele Rocca (2nd ed.)]

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