Scheiber, Alexander

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SCHEIBER, ALEXANDER (1913–1985), Hungarian rabbi and scholar. Scheiber was ordained at the Landesrabbinerschule in his native Budapest. After serving as rabbi in Dunaföldvár (1940–44), he became a professor at the Landesrabbinerschule in 1945 and its director in 1950. He also joined the faculty of the University of Szeged (1949), teaching Oriental folklore. Scheiber concentrated on the spiritual survival of the remnant of Hungarian Jewry during the postwar period. Under his leadership the traditions of the rabbinical seminary were maintained, and it continued to graduate young rabbis who filled rabbinical positions in Hungary and abroad. He considered it his mission to explore the Hungarian Jewish past and perpetuate its memory, as well as to study and publish the contributions of great Hungarian-Jewish scholars, including W. Bacher, I. Loew, and B. Heller.

As a scholar, Scheiber's fields of specialization were Jewish history – especially the history of Hungarian Jewry – literature, Jewish folklore, and art. Studying and evaluating the Kaufmann genizah, he discovered the Rabbanite prayer book mentioned by Kirkisānī (huca, 22 (1949), 307–20), part of the chronicle of Obadiah (ks, 30 (1954), 93–98), and fragments of the She'elot Attikot (huca, 27 (1956), 291–303, and 36 (1965), 227–59). Together with D.S. Loewinger, Scheiber published a volume of texts (Ginzei Kaufmann, 1, 1949). In 1957 a facsimile edition of the Kaufman Haggadah was published. During several stays in England, mainly at Cambridge, he discovered many important genizah fragments.

His contributions to the history of Hungarian Jewry include Corpus Inscriptionum Hungariae Judaicarum (Hung. 1960, with Ger. summary), on Jewish inscriptions found in Hungary, and Hebraeische Kodexueberreste in ungarlaendischen Einbandstafeln (Hung. 1969, with Ger. summary). Together with Philipp Gruenvald he edited Monumenta Hungariae Judaica (vols. 5–7, 1959, and from vol. 8 by Scheiber only). He also wrote the history of Sopron's (Oedenburg's) synagogue, which dates back to the Middle Ages (rej, 118 (1959/60), 79–93, and Hungarian (1963)). He also published studies in folklore. Scheiber edited the Jubilee Volume in Honour of Prof. B. Heller (1941) and Semitic Studies in Memory of I. Loew (1947). A complete bibliography of all Scheiber's publications has been published (Budapest, 1976). He edited the Encyclopaedia Judaica' s department of the history of the Jews in Hungary.

[Jeno Zsoldos]