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Singer, Simeon

SINGER, SIMEON (1846-1906), Jewish preacher, lecturer and public worker. He was born in London, and after a short stay at a Hungarian school, entered as one of its pupils the Jews' College, of which he was subsequently for a time the headmaster. In 1867 he became minister of the Borough Synagogue, London. In the following year he married. He moved to the new West End Synagogue in 1878, and remained the minister of that congregation until his death. He was the first to introduce regular sermons to children; as a preacher to the young Singer showed rare gifts. His pulpit addresses in general won wide appreciation, and his services were often called for at public functions. In 1897 he strongly opposed the Diggle policy at the London School Board, but he refused nomination as a member. In 1890 the Rabbinical Diploma was conferred on him by Lector Weiss of Vienna, but again he evidenced his self-denial by declining to stand for the post of associate Chief Rabbi in the same year. Singer was a power in the community in the direction of moderate progress; he was a lover of tradition, yet at the same time he recognized the necessity of well-considered changes. In 1892 at his instigation the first English Conference of Jewish Preachers was held, and some reforms were then and at other times introduced, such as the introduction of Bible Readings in English, the admission of women as choristers and the inclusion of the express consent of the bride as well as the bridegroom at the marriage ceremony.

Singer did much to reunite Conservatives and Liberals in the community, and he himself preached at the Reform Synagogue in Manchester. He had no love for the minute critical analysis of the Bible, but he was attracted to the theory of progressive revelation, and thus was favourably disposed to the modern treatment of the Old Testament. His cheery optimism was at the basis of this attitude, and strongly coloured his belief in the Messianic ideals. He held aloof, for this very reason, from all Zionist schemes. His interest in the fortunes of foreign Jews led him to make several continental journeys on their behalf; he was one of the leading spirits of the Russo-Jewish Committee, of the International Jewish Society for the Protection of Women and of other philanthropic organizations. Despite his devotion to public work, Singer published some important .works. In 1896 the Cambridge University Press published Talmudical Fragments in the Bodleian Library of which Singer was joint author. But his most famous work was his new edition and English translation of the Authorized Daily Prayer Book (first published in 1870), a work which has gone through many large editions and which has probably been the most popular (both with Jews and Christians) of all books published by an English Jew.

See The Literary Remains, of the Rev. Simeon Singer (3 vols., 1908), with Memoir. (I. A.)

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

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