SOLOMON SCHECHTER (Hebrew : שניאור זלמן הכהן
שכטר; 7 December 1847 – 19 November 1915) was a Moldavian
-born American rabbi , academic scholar and educator, most famous for
his roles as founder and President of the United Synagogue of America
, President of the
Jewish Theological Seminary of America
* 1 Early life * 2 Academic career * 3 American Jewish community * 4 Religious and cultural beliefs * 5 Legacy * 6 Bibliography * 7 References * 8 Further reading * 9 External links
He was born in
In 1890, after the death of Solomon Marcus Schiller-Szinessy , he was appointed to the faculty at Cambridge University , serving as a lecturer in Talmudics and reader in Rabbinics. To this day, the students of the Cambridge University Jewish Society hold an annual Solomon Schechter Memorial Lecture.
His greatest academic fame came from his excavation in 1896 of the papers of the Cairo Geniza , an extraordinary collection of over 100,000 pages of rare Hebrew religious manuscripts and medieval Jewish texts that were preserved at an Egyptian synagogue. The find revolutionized the study of Medieval Judaism.
Jacob Saphir was the first Jewish researcher to recognize the
significance of the Cairo Geniza, as well as the first to publicize
the existence of the
Midrash ha-Gadol .
Schechter was alerted to the
existence of the Geniza's papers in May 1896 by two Scottish sisters,
Mrs. Lewis and Mrs. Gibson , who showed him some leaves from the
Geniza that contained the Hebrew text of
Charles Taylor took a great interest in Solomon Schechter's work in Cairo, and the genizah fragments presented to the University of Cambridge are known as the Taylor- Schechter Collection. He was joint editor with Schechter of The Wisdom of Ben Sira, 1899. He published separately Cairo Genizah Palimpsests, 1900.
AMERICAN JEWISH COMMUNITY
In 1902, traditional Jews reacting against the progress of the
Reform Judaism movement, which was trying to establish an
authoritative "synod" of American rabbis, recruited
become President of the
Jewish Theological Seminary of America
RELIGIOUS AND CULTURAL BELIEFS
Schechter emphasized the centrality of Jewish law (Halakha) in Jewish life in a speech in his inaugural address as President of the JTSA 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, on the other hand, believed in what he termed "Catholic Israel." The basic idea being that Jewish law, Halacha , is formed and evolves based on the behavior of the people. This concept of modifying the law based on national consensus is an untraditional viewpoint.
The late Solomon Schechter (1912/1913), etching by Hermann Struck
Schechter's name is synonymous with the findings of the Cairo Geniza.
He placed the JTSA on an institutional footing strong enough to endure
for over a century. He became identified as the foremost personality
Conservative Judaism and is regarded as its founder. A network of
Conservative Jewish day schools is named in his honor, as well as a
summer camp in Olympia, Washington. There are several dozen Solomon
Schechter Day Schools across the
* Schechter, Solomon (1896) Studies in Judaism. 3 vols. London: A. again by Jewish Lights, Woodstock, Vt., 1993: including the original preface of 1909 new introduction by Neil Gilman )
* ^ Librarian\'s Lobby October 2000 Heroes of learning at home.earthlink.net * ^ "Schechter, Salomon (SCCR892S)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. * ^ Soskice, Janet (2010) Sisters of Sinai. London: Vintage, 239 - 40 * ^ Soskice, Janet (2010) Sisters of Sinai. London: Vintage, 241 - 2 * ^ Soskice, Janet (2010) Sisters of Sinai. London: Vintage, 246 * ^ Soskice, Janet (2010) Sisters of Sinai. London: Vintage, 240 - 41 * ^ Taylor-Schechter: a Priceless Collection
* Cohen, Michael R. (2012). The Birth of Conservative Judaism: Solomon Schechter's Disciples and the Creation of an American Religious Movement. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-52677-7 . * Fine, David J. (1997). "Solomon Schechter and the Ambivalence of Jewish Wissenschaft". Judaism. 46 (181): 3–24. ISSN 0022-5762 . * Gillman, Neil (1993). Conservative Judaism: the New Century. West Orange: Behrman House. ISBN 0-87441-547-0 . * Hoffman, Adina; Cole, Peter (2011). Sacred Trash: the lost and found world of the Cairo Geniza. New York: Schocken. ISBN 978-0-8052-4258-4 . * Starr, David (2003). Catholic Israel: Solomon Schechter, Unity and Fragmentation in Modern Jewish History. Ph.D. Dissertation, Columbia University.