Abraham Geiger

Abraham Geiger ( born May 24, 1810 in Frankfurt am Main, † October 23, 1874 in Berlin) was a German rabbi. He was one of the first and most prominent thought leaders of Reform Judaism, and a major Jewish scholar in the field of Jewish Studies.


Abraham Geiger was born in Frankfurt am Main, the son of Rabbi Michael Lazarus Geiger (1755-1823) and the Roeschen Wallau (1768-1856) in an Orthodox family and received a traditional religious education. Even as a child led him studies in classical studies to question the orthodox interpretation of Judaism, both the revelation at Sinai and the later written comments are attributed to divine origin in the. At 17, he began work on his first work, a comparison of the legal systems of the Mishnah, Talmud and Bible. He also worked out a dictionary for Mishnaic ( rabbinical ) Hebrew. In 1823 his father died. Abraham Geiger now had to take over the religious education of his younger half- brother Solomon.

Funded by friends and against the wishes of his family, he began his studies in April 1829 at the University of Heidelberg. There he dealt with philological studies, history, ancient languages ​​, philosophy and archeology. After one semester, he moved to the University of Bonn. Here it ran in a circle of Jewish students who are preparing for a future career as a rabbi, including Salomon Munk and Samson Raphael Hirsch, his future opponents. With it, he organized a Jewish Study Society. In this context, he held on January 2, 1830 his first sermon as a rabbi. In Bonn, Geiger studied with the orientalist Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Freytag Arabic and the Koran. Thanks to its award-winning essay " What Muhammad has taken over from the Judenthume? ", Which was published in 1833 in book form, he received a doctorate from the University of Marburg.

However, since at that time could not be working as professors at universities Jews in Germany, Geiger took a job as a rabbi in Wiesbaden ( 1832-1837 ). He continued his academic activities continued as the founder and editor of two scientific journals: Scientific Journal for Jewish theology (1835-1839) and Jewish Journal of Science and Life ( 1862-1875 ).

Due to strong resistance from the Jewish community Breslau he was until 1840, first deputy rabbi there after his application as a rabbi in 1838. 1843, after the death of Solomon Tiktin, he was then the place of the Chief Rabbi, which led to the exit of the supporters of orthodoxy Tiktins son Gedaliah. However, the tensions in Wroclaw persisted, and was opened as the Jewish Theological Seminary in Breslau in 1854, had been involved in its construction violinist, he received no employment because conservative Jewish circles einstuften his theological position as too liberal.

Geiger left Breslau in 1863 and was until 1870 the rabbi of the Reform congregation in Frankfurt am Main. In 1870, he was among the founders of the Academy for the Science of Judaism in Berlin, where he taught from 1872 until his death in 1874.

Abraham Geiger pleaded for an adjustment historically conditioned religious ritual laws (as opposed to universal religious values ​​) to the present, which earned him the opposition of Jewish orthodoxy. His main work is considered original and translations of the Bible (1857 ), in which he postulated that the Pharisees and early rabbis of the Mishnah had endeavored to liberalization and democratization of the Jewish law, in contrast to the aristocratic, conservative set Sadducees, under whose control of the priesthood and the temple at Jerusalem stood.

Within the reform movement Geiger held a moderate position and tried between the more radical views of Samuel Holdheim and Kaufmann Kohler and the conservative representatives as Zacharias Frankel and Heinrich Graetz convey. Geiger sat down for the use of German in the Jewish liturgy and felt most dietary laws as inappropriate. He called the Circumcision in a letter to Leopold Zunz as " barbaric bloody act," but gave himself up against a call to the Frankfurt Reform Association to its abolition and spoke out against it to move the Sabbath to Sunday.

His son Ludwig Geiger focused particularly on the Goethe- research.

The Abraham Geiger College at Potsdam University is named after him. It gives every two years, the Abraham Geiger Prize.

On 25 May 2010 the Historical Commission of the State Berlin unveiled a plaque to mark the 200th birthday of Abraham Geiger in the Hackescher Markt, Rosenthaler Str 40, his place of death.

Geiger's grave in honor of the number of the Jewish cemetery on Schönhauser Allee is a grave of honor of the State of Berlin.

Works (selection)

  • What Muhammad has received from the Judenthume? Dissertation, Bonn 1833. Google Book Search Reprint of the 2nd rev. Edition, Leipzig: Kaufmann, 1902 Edited and with an introduction by Frederick Niewoehner. . Berlin: Parerga Verlag, 2004, ISBN 3-937262-07-5. .
  • Nachdr the Ed Madras 1898 Tel Aviv:. Zohar books, 1969.
  • Judaism and Islam. Translated by FM Young, 1896. Edition Online (in English)
  • Judaism and its history: in 2 parts ( Judaism and its history, English). Lanham [ inter alia ]: Univ. Press of America, 1985. ISBN 0-8191-4491-6.