Abraham Geiger's Liberal Judaism: Personal Meaning and by Ken Koltun-Fromm

By Ken Koltun-Fromm

German rabbi, pupil, and theologian Abraham Geiger (1810–1874) is famous because the significant chief of the Reform flow in German Judaism. In his new paintings, Ken Koltun-Fromm argues that for Geiger own which means in religion—rather than rote ritual perform or attractiveness of dogma—was the most important to religion’s ethical authority. In 5 chapters, the booklet explores concerns relevant to Geiger’s paintings that talk to modern Jewish practice—historical reminiscence, biblical interpretation, ritual and gender practices, rabbinic authority, and Jewish schooling. this can be crucial interpreting for students, rabbis, rabbinical scholars, and proficient Jewish readers attracted to Conservative and Reform Judaism.

Published with the beneficiant aid of the Lucius N. Littauer Foundation.

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Extra info for Abraham Geiger's Liberal Judaism: Personal Meaning and Religious Authority (Jewish Literature and Culture)

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But by 1868, in writing his Unser Gottesdienst, Geiger proved far more critical and severe in assessing the depth of spiritual meaning in the prayer service. 109 Geiger continues this point in the preface to his 1870 prayer book: [A]ll respectful retention of Judaism’s historical elements, religious concepts [Vorstellungen] which have had a temporal validity, but which have been displaced by a progressively purer conception, must not be retained in a one-sided and sharp accentuation. 110 Geiger despised prayers that turned worship into a “sacri¤cial service” (Opferdienste).

But it also suggests that Geiger feels the force of these criticisms, and his apologetic rejoinders will only comfort those already converted, as it were. 64 The historian maps out this development with all its various tangents and “antiquated expressions,” and helps to create new vessels to harbor universal moral truths. Geiger redirects historical memories to focus on those moments of ethical perfection in Jewish history, and casts away “many a side-shoot” that undermine moral purity. He seeks an organic, seamless web that stretches the present to include visions of a past and future moral life.

He did this by examining the nature of human identity, and conceded that natural science had opened areas of research and knowledge unimaginable by previous generations. There would be de¤nite limits to how far science could proceed, but Geiger expressed genuine enthusiasm for scienti¤c discoveries. Indeed, he believed science had discovered in nature a controlling will and rational purpose that could only be divine in character. To be sure, humans were embodied, limited, and natural beings who obeyed laws of nature.

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