Page 209 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 46

Basic HTML Version

LIBERLES / SAMSON RAPHAEL HIRSCH
201
been made in Breslau and Hamburg, but the Jewish community
board in Frankfurt resisted all attempts to reach a compromise.
SEPARATIST MOVES
Only in 1876, when Jews had already received full political
rights and Frankfurt had become part o f the German Reich,
did a new Prussian law allow Jews to withdraw from member­
ship in the Jewish community while retaining their legal identity
as Jews. In the aftermath o f bitter controversies within the
I.R.G. itself, within the larger Jewish community o f Germany,
and between Hirsch and Seligmann Baer Bamberger, rabbi o f
Wuerzburg, a complex religious realignment appeared in
Frankfurt. In order to preserve communal unity, the board
agreed to establish a separate and equal Orthodox congregation
within the community structure. Frankfurt thus had two Or­
thodox congregations, the independent I.R.G. and a new sec­
ond congregation, functioning within the framework o f the Jew­
ish community.3 Both groups were subsequently served by
prominent spokesmen for German Orthodoxy; the I.R.G. by
Solomon Breuer (1890-1926) and the communal Orthodox by
Markus Horowitz (1878-1910), followed by Nehemiah Nobel
(1911-1922).6
The secessionist controversy was one o f the most fascinating
episodes in the history o f the German Jewish community in
the first years following emancipation in 1871. Far more than
an isolated disagreement between individuals, it represented
in its various stages the divergent responses o f German Jewry
to its new legal status. Orthodox Jews asserted that a civil gov­
ernment had no business compelling traditionalists to remain
members and pay taxes to Jewish communities with which they
were in fundamental religious disagreement. Their argument
received greater cogency with the coming o f emancipation, since
Jews were now to be considered equal citizens. Most Orthodox
leaders did not intend to actually secede from membership in
the Jewish communities but correctly appreciated the strategic
5 On these controversies, see Schwab,
The History o f Orthodox Jewry in Germany
(London , 1950), pp. 60-86 and Liberies, chap. V I I . On the I.R.G. in the
late nineteenth century, see J. Rosenheim,
Erinnerungen,
(Frankfurt: 1970).
6
Paul Arnsberg ,
Neunhundert Jahr “Muttergemeinde in Israel”: Frankfurt am
Main, 1074-1974, Chronik der Rabbiner
(Frankfurt, 1974).