Spitzer, Solomon

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SPITZER, SOLOMON (Benjamin Solomon Zalman ; 1826–1893), known as Reb Zalman Spitzer; rabbi and leader of Austrian Orthodox Jewry. Born in Ofen (Budapest), he studied under R. Moses Schick, in St. Jur, R. Meir Ash *Eisenstaedter in Ungvar, and R. Abraham Samuel Benjamin *Sofer in Pressburg. In 1849 he married the daughter of R. Moses *Sofer (Schreiber). On the suggestion of Ignaz *Deutsch, in 1853 he was appointed rabbi of Vienna's Pressburger Shool, a small community of Orthodox Jews mainly from Pressburg and from Hungarian provincial communities. Under Spitzer's leadership the community soon outgrew the small premises they occupied and by 1864 a new synagogue, Adass Yisroel, was built in Grosse Schiffgasse and known as the Schiff Shool. In conjunction with the synagogue he founded the Schiff Shool bet ha-midrash. In 1858 he was appointed assistant rabbi to Eliezer Horowitz. On the latter's death in 1868 Spitzer was offered the post of chief rabbi, on condition that he modify his strictly traditional standards, but he refused. In 1871 Adolf Jellinek, aided by Simon *Szanto, the influential editor of the Neuzeit, and Ignaz *Kuranda, the new president of the Kultusgemeinde, wished to introduce some radical reforms into the order of the service, including the elimination of all mention of an ultimate return to Zion and Jerusalem, and the exclusion from the prayer books of all references to the reinstitution of sacrifices and to a belief in the Messiah. Although the government openly sympathized with the reformers, the Orthodox community opposed the proposals. Spitzer called a protest meeting attended by some 500 people – approximately one quarter of the whole of Vienna's synagogue membership. A compromise was found: the reforms were called modifications, the organ was not introduced into any Vienna synagogue, and the controversial prayers were to be recited in silence by the congregation.

Spitzer resigned from the rabbinate of the Kultusgemeinde and devoted his energies entirely to the affairs of the Schiff Shool and to its flourishing subsidiary institutions. It was his lifelong desire to settle in Jerusalem and in preparation he sent his library on ahead with a son-in-law who migrated there. However, Spitzer's teacher, Moses Schick, prevailed upon him not to leave Vienna, saying "a conscientious general does not leave his soldiers to fight on by themselves." He died in Vienna and, in accordance with his last wish, was buried in Pressburg.

A large number of responsa in his teacher's work, the "Responsa of Maharam Schick," are addressed to Spitzer, as are a number of responsa in the Ketav Sofer by Abraham Samuel Benjamin Sofer, the Shevet Sofer of Simḥah Bunim Sofer, and the Responsa of Akiva *Eger. The only original work published by Spitzer is the Tikkun Shelomo (1892), consisting of 100 sermons and eight funeral orations, together with Simlat Binyamin, talmudic discourses. He also published the speech he made at the protest meeting in Vienna (1871).


I. Gastfreund, Wiener Rabbinen (1879), 115–7; J.J. Greenwald, Le-Toledot ha-Reformaẓyon ha-Datit be-Germanya u-ve-Ungarya (1948), 14 n. 25; Ha-Maggid, 15 (1871), 50, 58; Der Israelit, 34 (1893), 1835f., 1879f.

[Alexander Scheiber]