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Holdheim, Samuel

HOLDHEIM, SAMUEL (1806-1860), Jewish rabbi, a leader of reform in the German Synagogue, was born in Posen in 1806 and died in Berlin in 1860. In 1836 he was appointed rabbi at Frankfort-on-the-Oder, in 1840 he was transferred to the rabbinate of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. He then became prominent as an advocate on the one hand of religious freedom (much trammelled at the time by Prussian state laws) and on the other of reform within the Jewish community. Various rabbinical conferences were held, at Brunswick (1844), Frankfort-on- theMain (1845) and Breslau (1846). At all of these Holdheim was a strong supporter of the policy of modifying ritual (especially with regard to Sabbath observance, marriage laws and liturgical customs). In 1846 he was chosen Rabbi of the new Berlin congregation and there exercised considerable influence on the course of Jewish reform.

See I. H. Ritter in the Jewish Quarterly Review, i. 202. The same authority has written the life of Holdheim in vol. iii. of his Geschichte der judischen Reformation (Berlin, 1865). Graetz in his History passes an unfavourable judgment on Holdheim, and there were admittedly grounds for opposition to Holdheim's attitude. A moderate criticism is contained in Dr D. Philipson's History of the Reform Movement in Judaism (London, 1906).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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