Schwab, Löw

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SCHWAB, LÖW (1794–1857), chief rabbi of Pest, Hungary. Born in Kruknau, Moravia, he studied in Nikolsburg (*Mikulov) and Pressburg (*Bratislava) under Mordecai b. Abraham Naphtali *Banet and Moses *Sofer respectively. Having served first as rabbi of Prossnitz (*Prostejov), Schwab was invited to become chief rabbi of Pest in 1836. An outstanding talmudist and orator, Schwab also succeeded in creating an atmosphere of tolerance and conciliation in his congregation. The term of his rabbinate coincided with increasing Magyarization within Hungarian Jewry, which culminated in the struggle for full *emancipation. Schwab encouraged the members of his community to cultivate the use of the Hungarian language, and to engage in agriculture and other productive labor: he was one of the founders of the Society for the Promotion of Handicrafts and Agriculture among Hungarian Jews (mikÉfe).

In 1844 he submitted a proposal to publish the main tenets and principles of the Jewish religion, in order to prove their compatibility with the requirements of a modern state, to refute slanders by the opponents of Jewish civil rights, and to allay their suspicions. His proposal was rejected by the rabbinic council of *Paks (1844), but in 1846 his own congregation of Pest entrusted him with preparing this publication. It was printed in both Hungarian and German as a compendium of religious instruction for secondary school graduates and went into seven editions.

During the 1848 revolution Schwab voiced his opinions on both religious and secular political matters. Although admitting the need for some moderate and cautious innovations in the religious sphere, Schwab strongly opposed the extreme reformist program of the congregation led by Ignaz *Einhorn. He supported, however, the Hungarian national liberation movement, including the declaration of independence from Hapsburg rule (1849). On the suppression of the revolutionary struggle, Schwab was arrested with his son-in-law, Leopold *Löw.

Schwab's published works include religious poems, in Hebrew and German, and some sermons.


L. Loew, in: Ben Chananja, 1 (1858), 23–30; M. Ehrenteil, Juedische Charaktetbilder (1866), 42–57; S. Büchler, A zsidók története Budapesten (1901), 416–76; Magyar Zsidó Lexikon (1929), 776–7.

[Jeno Zsoldos]

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Schwab, Löw

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