Prinz, Joachim

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PRINZ, JOACHIM (1902–1988), U.S. rabbi and communal leader. Prinz, who was born in Burchartsdorf, Germany, was ordained by the Breslau Jewish Theological Seminary in 1925. In 1926 he became the rabbi of the Berlin Jewish community. His adherence to the Zionist movement brought him into conflict with Berlin Jewish community leaders. Prinz continually attacked Nazism from his pulpit, even after Hitler came to power, and was arrested several times by the Gestapo. His sermons were masterful in saying what had to be said, without actually saying anything that could quite get him into trouble. In 1937 he held his last meeting with his congregation before immigrating to the U.S. The meeting was spied on by Adolf *Eichmann, who reported to the Gestapo that Prinz's plan to immigrate proved that an international Jewish conspiracy had New York headquarters. Prinz was subsequently arrested by the Gestapo and expelled from Germany. In 1939 he was appointed rabbi at Temple B'nai Abraham, Newark, New Jersey.

After a long association with the Zionist movement, Prinz left it in 1948, contending that the establishment of Israel made it obsolete. It was a position that he shared with David Ben-Gurion. He suggested a new movement based on what he called "Jewish peoplehood," be created to strengthen further ties and community of interest between Israel and U.S. Jews. Prinz was a leader in the fight against antisemitism and a staunch civil libertarian. He opposed government aid to religious and private schools and advocated that state governments permit exceptions to their Sunday closing laws to non-Christians.

Extremely active in Jewish organizational affairs, his posts included president of the Jewish Educational Association of Essex County (1944); chairman of the Essex County United Jewish Appeal (1945); member of the executive board of the World Jewish Congress (1946); vice president (1952–58) and president (1958–66) of the American Jewish Congress; director of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Ger-many (1956); and chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations (1965–67). He was prominent in the civil rights movement. In fact, he was the speaker at the March on Washington in August 1963 who preceded Rev. Martin Luther King and his immortal address "I Have a Dream."

Prinz's writings include Juedische Geschichte (1931), in which he contended that Jews, despite their emancipation, still existed in the ghetto's shadow; Illustrierte juedische Geschichte (1933); Die Geschichten der Bibel (1934); Wir Juden (1934), urging Jews to be proud of their patrimony and to leave Germany; Das Leben im Ghetto (1937); The Dilemma of the Modern Jew (1962); and Popes from the Ghetto (1966). Contemporary readers can learn about Rabbi Prinz from Philip Roth's The Plot Against America. Roth, a native of Newark, who is not known for his reverential attitudes toward rabbis, treats Prinz as heroic in his opposition to antisemitism and defense of civil liberties.

[Michael Berenbaum (2nd ed.)]