Esriel Hildesheimer (1820 – 1899)

Esriel Hildesheimer (1820 – 1899)

Esriel Hildesheimer (1820 – 1899)

Around 1870, the Orthodox minority in Berlin, distressed at the turn toward liberalization represented by changes such as the installation of an organ in the Synagogue on Oranienburger Straße and the appointment of the Reform leader Abraham Geiger, sought another rabbi to lead the newly founded secession community, Addas Yisroel. Their choice fell upon the Halberstadt-born Rabbi Esriel Hildesheimer. A vocal opponent of the Reform movement, Hildesheimer believed strongly in the principle of Torah im derekh erez (Torah and worldly knowledge): that halakhic observance was not only compatible with the study of science and other secular subjects, but that both were necessary to recognize and become close to God.

Statut für das Rabbiner-Seminar und den Seminar-Verein zu Berlin

Berlin, c. 1874. LBI call number r 692 [inscribed by the author on p. 10]

In 1873, Israel Hildesheimer founded the Orthodox Rabbinical Seminary of Berlin, which trained Modern Orthodox Rabbis in Germany until it was closed by the Nazis in 1938. Along with the Frankfurt Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, Hildesheimer was among the most prominent leaders of the Orthodox movement in Germany, although his openness toward secular learning and cooperation with liberal Jews for the sake of the entire Jewish community often brought him into conflict with the more tradition-minded Hirsch.

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