Moses, Adolph

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MOSES, ADOLPH (Eliezer Adolph ; 1840–1902), rabbi. Moses was born in Kletchevo, Poland. His parents were Rabbi Israel Baruch Moses, a talmudic scholar, and Eva Graditz. An eldest child, Moses was born when his parents were living on stipend (kest) in the home of his mother's parents. In 1849, R. Israel Baruch took a rabbinic position in Santomishel, Posen. The young Adolph went back to Poland to study in yeshivot for three years, then returned for secular studies at Schrimm and Militsch. He moved on to Breslau, where he attended both the University of Breslau and Zechariah *Frankel's Rabbinical Seminary. Idealistic and devoted to his studies, Moses was especially interested in history, philosophy, and philology and like many young Jews of the time was strongly influenced by Western civilization. In 1859, carrying only a walking stick, he hiked to Italy where he fought under Garibaldi, attaining the rank of corporal. Returning to Breslau, he felt rejected by old friends who did not sympathize with some of his views. In 1863, Moses joined the Polish insurrection. Captured by the Russians, he later wrote a novel, Luser Segermacher, about his prison experiences. After his release, Moses went to Frankfurt on Main to study under Abraham *Geiger, a leading Reform scholar, and later spent two years at the University of Vienna, where he was close to Professor Adolph *Jellinek. In 1868, Moses took a teaching position in Steegnitz, Bavaria. Two years later he accepted a call to a pulpit in Montgomery, Alabama, and soon moved on to another in Mobile, where he served 1871–1881. He devoted himself to learning to deliver sermons in good English, rather than the German language prevalent in the American synagogues at the time, and he developed a life-long fascination with Shakespeare, even giving lectures on the Bard.

Moses leaned toward radical Reform, deprecating what he would term "physiological Judaism," by which he meant its ritual and nationalistic aspects. He preferred instead to see Judaism as a world monotheistic doctrine of truth and morality.

In 1885, he was the first to rise to advocate acceptance of the Platform at the famous meeting of Reform rabbis at Pittsburgh. He joined a group of rabbis in 1890 in rejecting the halakhic requirement of circumcision for male proselytes, although he criticized conversions for people who simply wanted to marry Jews. He opposed the budding Zionist movement, and like many Reform rabbis of that era moved his temple's main weekly service to Sundays, starting in 1892. He published many articles on Judaism, folklore, and anthropology and served as editor of Zeitgeist, a Jewish journal. A collection of his essays, along with a brief biography, was published in 1903 by Hyman G. Enelow.

He graduated from the medical school of the University of Louisville in 1893 and was particularly interested in working with the blind. From 1881, he served as rabbi of Temple Adath Israel in Louisville, Kentucky, where he remained until his death after a long illness.

[Matthew Schwartz (2nd ed.)]