Page 206 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 46

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form, for secular education was not the issue that separated
Orthodoxy and Reform, at least not in Germany or in western
The friendship with Geiger ended with the publication o f
Nineteen Letters of Ben Uziel,
but the explanation prob­
ably lies more with the timing than with the event. That Geiger
could review Hirsch’s book in his own journal is but a graphic
testimony that the respective leaders were taking their positions
and that party lines were being drawn. The publication o f the
now brought Hirsch into contact with another leading
figure o f nineteenth-century German Jewry — the historian
Heinrich Graetz.
Impressed by Hirsch’s approach to Jewish tradition and the
new opportunities o f the times, the young Graetz lived and stud­
ied with Hirsch for some three years. Graetz’s diary entries for
this period provide us with rare, close-up glimpses o f Hirsch
at home and at work. The split between the two came gradually
over the next decade. Graetz saw Hirsch move far closer to
a strictly observant Orthodoxy. Yet Graetz, treading the already
well-known path o f the Jewish intellectual without possibilities
o f employment and not himself willing or capable o f entering
the rabbinate, faced difficult financial problems. He continued
to turn to Hirsch over the course o f the 1840’s to seek employ­
ment, and this perpetuated the already strained relationship.
Graetz had been attracted to Hirsch at a time when tradi­
tionalists were somewhat unified in their aversion toward Re­
form and when Hirsch himself had projected a moderate
stance. By the time Hirsch moved to Frankfurt in 1851, the
traditionalist cause had been strengthened considerably. Even
the Reformers had temporarily reached an impasse in their pur­
suit o f change. The stalemate over Sabbath observance at the
1846 Rabbinical Conference in Breslau indicated that the ma­
jority o f the Reform rabbinate was unwilling to pursue a radical
course that would, for example, resolve economic difficulties
inherent in the Jewish Sabbath by transferring it to Sunday.
The return to tradition at mid-century was even more blatant
both in the enhanced position o f the Orthodox and in the emer­
gence o f Historical or — as we know it — Conservative Judaism.