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Schwerin-Goetz, Eliakim Ha-Kohen

SCHWERIN-GOETZ, ELIAKIM HA-KOHEN

SCHWERIN-GOETZ, ELIAKIM HA-KOHEN (1760–1852), Hungarian rabbi. Schwerin-Goetz was born in Schwerin (Skwierzyna), Poland, and added the name of the town to his family name of Goetz. While still young he went to study in the yeshivot of Posen (Poznan) and later in Pressburg (now Bratislava). In 1782 he went to Prague, where, in addition to pursuing his talmudic studies, he devoted himself to secular studies, particularly mathematics. In 1796 he settled in Baja in southern Hungary and lived at first with his father-in-law. Already during this period students attracted by his reputation as a scholar gathered around him, and he founded a small yeshivah. He struck up a friendship with Meir *Eisenstadt, the young rabbi of the community. It was not until 1812, when he was 52 years of age, that he first took a position as rabbi of Szabadka in southern Hungary (now Subotica, Vojvodina). When Meir Eisenstadt left Baja, Schwerin-Goetz was appointed to succeed him in 1815. During his period of office the community made great spiritual progress and because of him became the center for all the communities of the region. In 1827 the convention of representatives of the communities of the region elected him district rabbi. In his method of learning he was opposed to pilpul. He was also opposed to Ḥasidism and to the study of Kabbalah. Though he criticized the attempts of Aaron *Chorin, rabbi of Arad, to introduce reforms in Judaism, he nevertheless took a decidedly liberal stand, especially in matters of personal status such as marriage and divorce. He participated in the convention of Hungarian rabbis in Paks in 1844 and there opposed the current of religious extremism. His relations with Moses *Sofer, the dominant figure of his time among Hungarian rabbis, were at first friendly but later became strained. In the great controversy concerning Jonathan Alexandersohn, rabbi of Hejöcsaba, which at this time occupied the rabbis of Central Europe, Schwerin-Goetz opposed the stand of Moses Sorer and actively supported the persecuted Alexandersohn, who was also a vehement opponent of Ḥasidism (see also Benjamin Ze'ev *Rapoport). The outcome of this controversy marked the victory of extreme Orthodoxy in Hungary over a more liberal approach. His grandson was Samuel *Kohn (1841–1920), Hungarian Jewish historian who wrote Schwerin-Goetz's biography.

bibliography:

J. Alexandersohn, Ehrenrettung… (1847); H. Lemberger, in: Carmel, Allgemeine Illustrierte Judenzeitung, 1 (1860); S. Kohn, in: Magyar Zsidó Szemle, 15 (1898), 117–34, 209–37, 304–25; 16 (1899), 17–34, 135–62; P.Z. Schwartz, Shem ha-Gedolim me-Ereẓ Hagar, 1 (1913), 23a, no. 16.

[Yehouda Marton]

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