Solomon Schechter

From Academic Kids

Rabbi Solomon Schechter (1847-1915) was born to a Lubavitch Hasidic family and later became the second President of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (1902 to 1915) and founder and President of the United Synagogue of America (later to become the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.) Under his leadership the Seminary obtained a distinguished faculty, and a dynamic momentum. Prior to his presidency, he was reader in Rabbinics at the University of Cambridge.

His greatest academic fame came from his discovery of the Cairo Geniza, an extraordinary collection of medieval Jewish texts that were preserved in an Egyptian synagogue. The find revolutionized the study of Medieval Judaism.

Solomon Schechter emphasized the centrality of Jewish law (halakha) in Jewish life in a speech in his inaugural address as President of the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1902:

"Judaism is not a religion which does not oppose itself to anything in particular. Judaism is opposed to any number of things and says distinctly "thou shalt not." It permeates the whole of your life. It demands control over all of your actions, and interferes even with your menu. It sanctifies the seasons, and regulates your history, both in the past and in the future. Above all, it teaches that disobedience is the strength of sin. It insists upon the observance of both the spirit and of the letter; spirit without letter belongs to the species known to the mystics as "nude souls" nishmatim artilain, wandering about in the universe without balance and without consistency....In a word, Judaism is absolutely incompatible with the abandonment of the Torah."

Schechter was an early advocate of Zionism.

Schechter is the namesake for a chain of conservative Jewish day schools. There are over a dozen Solomon Schechter Day Schools across the United States.

External links

References

Conservative Judaism: The New Century, Neil Gillman, Behrman House

Studies in Judaism, Solomon Schechter

Some Aspects of Rabbinic Theology, Solomon Schechter

Solomon Schechter and the Ambivalence of Jewish Wissenschaft, David J. Fine, Judaism p.4-24, 1997

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