Jewish Theological Seminar in Wroclaw

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The Jewish Theological Seminary in Breslau (before 1904)
Logo since 1928, with the (Hebrew) motto Because the commandment is a lamp and the law is a light , Proverbs 6:23.

The Jewish Theological Seminary in Breslau , actually the Jewish Theological Seminar Fraenckel'sche Stiftung , was a rabbis and teachers' seminar in Breslau that existed from 1854 to 1938 . The seminar, which was established on the basis of a testamentary decree by the Wroclaw Jewish businessman Jonas Fraenckel , opened on August 10, 1854 and developed into one of the most important Jewish educational institutions in Europe until the National Socialists came to power in Germany, which closed the seminar in 1938.


The Jewish Theological Seminary, which opened in 1854, was founded on the basis of a will from the estate of the Breslau banker and commercial councilor Jonas Fraenckel and was administered independently by the board of trustees of the Kommerzienrath Fraenckel foundations . The foundation goes back to Abraham Geiger , who had proposed the establishment of a Jewish theological faculty at a university as early as 1836. However, Geiger was not elected as the first director, but the conservative Dresden chief rabbi Zacharias Frankel (1801–1875). Frankel was the founder of the “positive-historical” school, which, as he explained in his main work Darkei HaMischnah (Paths of Mishnah ), held the opinion that Jewish law, the Halachah , was never static, but always changed Conditions had developed. After Frankel's death, Reader Lazarus became director, after his death in 1879 the powers granted to the director were transferred to the teaching staff. The main lecturer in Talmudic science and rabbinical literature acted as a seminary rabbi; he alone was entitled to issue the rabbinical diploma , the Hattarat Hora'ah .

With the opening of the Jewish Theological Seminary, Wroclaw became one of the most important centers of Jewish science in Europe. The seminar offered unrestricted freedom of research, albeit on the basis of the customs of traditional Judaism, which teachers and students were required to adhere to (literally: to continue on the basis of positive and historical Judaism ).

The seminar was the first German rabbinical seminar. It originally consisted of three departments:

  1. Rabbi department with seven years of training for students with university entrance qualifications
  2. Preparatory course ( preparation ) for students with secondary school leaving certificate
  3. the teaching department

The latter two departments were dissolved in the 1880s, and teacher training was resumed after the First World War , when the seminary experienced a boom. The most important part of the seminar, however, was the rabbinical seminary, which remained the most important institution for the training of rabbis in Europe until the Nazis came to power in 1933.

It also served as a model for the establishment of Jewish universities (Berlin 1870 by Abraham Geiger: University for the Science of Judaism ) and other rabbinical seminars (Budapest 1877: State Rabbinical School ; Vienna 1883: Israelitisch-Theologische Lehranstalt ). The Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York , an institution of Conservative Judaism , also refers to the Breslau seminary.

The seminar library had over 30,000 volumes; Frankel's monthly for the history and science of Judaism appeared since 1851 and was an important forum for the presentation of the results of scientific research and, last but not least, the self-assurance of the seminar (it appeared until 1939). Part of the library came to Switzerland after the war and is now housed in the library of the Israelite Cultus Community in Zurich .

In 1931 the Prussian government allowed the seminary to run the addition "College for Jewish Theology". During the November pogroms in 1938 , the library and the seminar were devastated, after which it was closed by the National Socialists. Numerous students were taken to the Buchenwald concentration camp . Some activities continued underground for a while . The last two students were ordained on February 21, 1939.

Well-known teachers and students


Seminar rabbis were David Joel (1880–1882), Israel Lewy (1883–1917), Saul Horovitz (1917–1921), Michael Guttmann (1922–1934).

Lecturers included Jacob Bernays (1824–1881), classical philologist, Markus Brann , Zacharias Frankel , Jacob Freudenthal , Heinrich Graetz (1817–1891), historian, Jakob Guttmann , Michael Guttmann, Isaak Heinemann , Manuel Joël , Guido Kisch , Albert Lewkowitz , Israel Lewy , Adolf Wolf Posnanski , Israel Rabin , David Rosin , Bernard Dov Weinryb and Benedikt Zuckermann .

Students of the seminar

By the time it was closed in 1938, the seminary had well over 700 students, around 250 of whom received the rabbi diploma. The students included:

Wilhelm Bacher , Leo Baeck , Philipp Bloch , Hermann Cohen , Ismar Elbogen , Israel Finkelscherer , Ismar Freund , Max Grunwald , Moritz Güdemann , Jakob Guttmann , Julius Guttmann , Adolf Hepner (1846–1923), socialist and co-defendant in the Leipzig high treason trial 1872, Salomon Kalischer , David Kaufmann , Alexander Kisch , Lesser Knoller Adolph Kohut , Alexander Kohut , Arthur Löwenstamm , Lazar Münz (1837–1921), Austro-Galician rabbi in Auschwitz and Kempen and author, Joseph Perles , Nathan Porges , Isaac Prager , Joachim Prinz , Paul Rieger , Lothar Rothschild (1909–1974) rabbis in St. Gallen , Adolf Schwarz , Siegfried Silberstein , Benjamin Szold , Heinemann Vogelstein , Hermann Vogelstein , Albert Wolf , Samuel Löb Zitron and Moses Samuel Zuckermandel .

See also


  • Festschrift for the 75th anniversary of the Jewish theological seminar . 2 volumes, M. & H. Marcus, Breslau 1929.
  • Andreas Brämer: Rabbi Zacharias Frankel. Science of Judaism and Conservative Reform in the 19th Century. Olms, Hildesheim et al. 2000, ISBN 3-487-11027-X . ( Netiva 3), (At the same time: Dissertation. Freie Univ., Berlin 1996: Zacharias Frankel. ).
  • Markus Brann : History of the Jewish Theological Seminary (Fraenckel'sche Foundation) in Breslau. Festschrift for the 50th anniversary of the institution. sn, Breslau 1904 (reprint. Olms, Hildesheim 2010, ISBN 978-3-487-13948-7 ( rarity on the German cultural heritage of the East )). ( Digitized at / Frankfurt University Library )
  • Guido Kisch (Ed.): The Breslau seminar. Jewish theological seminar (Fraenckelscher Foundation) in Breslau 1854–1938. Memorial. Mohr, Tübingen 1963. (= The Breslau Seminary )
  • Nils Roemer: Jewish Scholarship and Culture in Nineteenth-Century Germany . The University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, Wisconsin 2005, 50ff et passim.
  • Esther Seidel: Zacharias Frankel and the Jewish Theological Seminary . Hentrich & Hentrich Verlag, Berlin 2013, ISBN 978-3-95565-027-8 .
  • Hugo Weczerka : The origin of the students of the Jewish Theological Seminary in Breslau 1854–1938 . In: Journal for East Research . 35: 88-138 (1986).
  • Carsten L. Wilke : Intercultural initiations. The rabbinate and the establishment of the Jewish Theological Seminary in Breslau in 1854. In: Kalonymos , Jg. 7, H. 2, 2004, S. 1 - 3 (PDF; 620 kB)
  • Görge K. Hasselhoff: "About the scientific influence of Judaism on the non-Jewish world." (Manuel Joël). On a research program of the Wroclaw Jewish Theological Seminar, ibid. Vol. 22, no.3, 2019, pp. 4 - 8 (also online)

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b Eugen Pessen: Jewish Theological Seminar . In: Jewish Lexicon . tape 3 . Jewish publishing house, Berlin 1929, p. 466 f . ( Frankfurt University Library ).
  2. a b NN: Juedisch-Theologisches Seminar, Breslau . In: Michael Berenbaum , Fred Skolnik (Ed.): Encyclopaedia Judaica . 2nd Edition. tape 11 . Macmillan Reference USA, Detroit 2007, pp. 572 ( Jewish Library ).