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Rabbiner-Seminar Fuer das Orthodoxe Judentum


RABBINER-SEMINAR FUER DAS ORTHODOXE JUDENTUM , the Rabbinical Seminary for Orthodox Judaism, founded in 1873 in Berlin by Azriel (Israel) *Hildesheimer to promote Torah im Derekh Ereẓ (the combination of loyalty to Judaism with awareness of modern culture and method). For the next seven decades rabbinic and lay leaders emerged from that institution whose influence extended over four continents. Throughout his career Hildesheimer had to fight opponents from the left and the right. He inspired his disciples by his life and learning. After having headed the seminary for 26 years, Hildesheimer was followed by David *Hoffmann, Joseph *Wohlgemuth, and Jehiel Jacob *Weinberg. The students attended classes both at the seminar and at the university, and the curriculum included Bible, Talmud, Jewish philosophy, and other subjects. Hildesheimer's faculty was made up of distinguished scholars. Among them were Jacob *Barth, Abraham *Berliner, Hirsch *Hildesheimer (son of the founder), Simon *Eppenstein, Moses Auerbach, and Samuel *Gruenberg. The seminary's annual reports (Jahresberichte, 1873–1915; 1935–36) contained a series of important scholarly studies by the members of its teaching staff. The seminary was the center of modern Orthodoxy, which combined loyalty to traditional Judaism with the recognition of the need for scientific method (most of the graduates obtained a doctorate in philosophy). Many graduates, among them Joseph *Carlebach and Leo *Deutschlander, attained continental fame through their educational work in Eastern Europe, while many others built Torah im Derekh Ereẓ congregations in Germany, France, and beyond their frontiers. The seminary, which started as a German-Hungarian enterprise, was greatly enriched in its last two decades by two Lithuanian scholars on its faculty: Abraham Elijah *Kaplan, who died at a young age, and Jehiel Jacob Weinberg, a great talmudist. In 1934 plans were prepared to transfer the seminary to Palestine, but the proposal had to be abandoned owing to the opposition of extreme Orthodox elements there to the concept of a modern rabbinical seminary. The institution closed in November 1938 shortly after the Kristallnacht pogrom. The greater part of its library was transferred to Tel Aviv. The principal fruits of the seminary's work was the training of German rabbis to counter the tide of religious liberalism.


S. Goldschmidt, in: Jeschurun, 7 (1920), 216–55; J. Wohlgemuth, Das Rabbiner-Seminar zu Berlin (1923); H. Schwab, History of Orthodox Jewry in Germany (1950), 54–57; M.A. Shulvass (Szulvas), in: S.K. Mirsky (ed.), Mosedot Torah be-Eiropah (1956), 689–713; Y. Aviad (Wolfsberg), Deyokena'ot (1962), 40–51; I.J. Eisner, in: ylbi, 12 (1967), 32–52.

[Leo Jung]

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