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Schiller-Szinessy, Solomon Mayer


SCHILLER-SZINESSY, SOLOMON MAYER (1820–1890), rabbi and scholar. Born in Altofen (Budapest), Schiller received a traditional rabbinic education, attending Hungarian and other institutions, notably the Lutheran College at Eperjes (Presov); he graduated from the University of Jena in 1845. At Eperjes Schiller was given a faculty appointment for Hebrew and also became the local rabbi, and the atmosphere of tolerance in the college influenced him permanently. He succeeded markedly in child education, and through his eloquence in the pulpit, he fostered Hungarian patriotism. His rabbinical teachers, who included Aaron *Chorin, were moderates, but in 1845 he vigorously attacked in print the Reform resolutions of the Frankfurt Rabbinical Conference. During the Hungarian revolution, led by Kossuth (1848–49), Schiller added the Magyar "Szinessy" to his name and enlisted; he was wounded and captured but escaped from Temesvár via Trieste to England, where in 1851 he became rabbi of Manchester. While endeavoring to keep traditionalists and would-be reformers together, he became embroiled with the chief rabbi Nathan *Adler by attempting to extend his ecclesiastical jurisdiction over northern England; he was then persuaded by the reformers to join their new dissident synagogue, although his personal practice and outlook remained strongly traditional throughout his life. Schiller resigned his rabbinical post in 1860 and moved in 1863 to Cambridge. His bibliographical erudition earned him the appointment in 1866 as teacher (later reader) of talmudic and rabbinic literature at Cambridge University. He was the first professing Jew formally entrusted by Cambridge with the subject, and he taught and inspired a distinguished list of gentile rabbinical scholars, which included C. Taylor and W.H. Lowe. Schiller's principal scholarly achievement was his prolix Catalogue of Hebrew Manuscripts Preserved in the Cambridge University Library, a portion of which was published in 1876. He edited Book One of David *Kimḥi's commentary on the Psalms (1883) and *Romanelli's account of his Moroccan travels (Massa ba-Arav, 1885).


R. Loewe, in: jhset, 21 (1968), 148–89.

[Raphael Loewe]

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