Samuel Hirsch

Not to be confused with his contemporary Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808-1888)
Samuel Hirsch

Samuel Hirsch, (June 8, 1815 – May 14, 1889) was a major Reform religious philosopher and rabbi.


Born in Thalfang (in modern-day Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany; formerly part of Prussia), he received his training at Metz. He attended the University of Bonn, the University of Berlin, and the University of Leipzig.

He first became rabbi at Dessau in 1838 but was forced to resign in 1841 because he promoted a radically liberal form of Judaism, later to become known as classic German Reform Judaism. In 1843 he published his "Die Messias-Lehre der Juden in Kanzelvorträgen" and "Religionsphilosophie der Juden."

In 1843 he was appointed chief rabbi of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg by King William II of the Netherlands. During this period he published his "Die Humanität als Religion." He took an active part in the annual rabbinical conferences held at Brunswick (1844), Frankfurt am Main (1845), and Breslau (1846). In 1844 he published his "Reform im Judenthum."

Having received a call from the Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1866, he resigned his post in Europe and moved to the United States. There he succeeded Dr. David Einhorn. From his arrival onward he became closely identified with, and an open advocate of, radical Reform. In 1869 he was elected president of the rabbinical conference held in Philadelphia, at which the principles of Reform Judaism were formulated. In that year he engaged also in numerous ritual and doctrinal controversies.

Hirsch remained officiating rabbi of the Philadelphia congregation for 22 years, resigning in 1888, after having spent 50 years of his life in the ministry. Moving to Chicago, he took up his abode there with his son, philosopher and rabbi Prof. Lehre ("teaching" or "lore") but is expressed in symbolic ceremonies that may be changed in accordance with historic development.

He was the first to propose holding Jewish services on Sunday instead of the traditional Jewish Sabbath Shabbat.

He contributed to the early volumes of The Jewish Times (1869–1878). His

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