top of page
< Back

Books and bookmen: the Cambridge teachers of Rabbinics 1866-1971

Nicholas de Lange

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Jewish Historical Studies , volume 44, 2012 Books and bookmen: the Cambridge teachers of Rabbinics 1 866-1 97 11 NICHOLAS DE LANGE In piam memoriam RL The purpose of this paper is to pay tribute to my predecessors, the first five Lecturers and Readers in Rabbinic and Talmudic Literature (the actual title of the post has varied). These five men, Solomon Marcus Schiller-Szinessy, Solomon Schechter, Israel Abrahams, Herbert Loewe and Jacob Leib Teicher, held the post, with interruptions, from 1866 to 197 1, when I suc- ceeded Teicher. They represent a distinctive Cambridge tradition that deserves the epithet "unique". I am not aware of any other university post devoted to the study and teaching of Rabbinic and medieval Hebrew language and texts that has existed through this period. In 1866, when the post was created, Rabbinics was the Cinderella of Hebrew studies, and Jews, with other non- Anglicans, were still barred from taking degrees in the University. Yet in Cambridge there was a real enthusiasm for Rabbinic Hebrew, and a small but steady circle gathered around dedicated teachers to study the rab- binic commentators on the Bible and Jewish classics such as the Talmud and even the Zohar. All this stands to Cambridge's credit; even more so the ini- tiative to pay a regular stipend to a teacher and bestow the University's official recognition on his work. All five of these men were Jews; all of them were fine scholars: beyond that they have little in common. Two were home-grown (one, Herbert Loewe, was a Cambridge graduate); the other three came here from the Continent. Some, but not all, had studied at a university; some, but not all, had rabbinic diplomas; some, but not all, took an active interest in the life of the Jewish community beyond the purely academic orbit. In personality they were all very different from each other. I only knew one of them personally, my teacher and immediate predecessor Jacob Teicher, but I feel I have come to 1 Based on a paper read to the Society on 14 June 2012. An earlier version was delivered as a vale- dictory lecture before the University of Cambridge, 17 May 201 1 . It is dedicated to the memory of my dear teacher and colleague Raphael Loewe, to whom I owe an inestimable debt. He gave me helpful advice in the preparation of the lecture. I am also grateful for the help of Michael Loewe and Anna Teicher, who gave me valuable information about their respective fathers. 139</page><page sequence="2">Nicholas de Lange know the others too, through their writings and through the many traces they have left behind them in Cambridge and further afield. My title, "Books and Bookmen", is borrowed from Israel Abrahams, who for many years contributed a column to the Jewish Chronicle under this title. I chose it because I want to focus on one particular aspect of my predecessors' work: their engagement with Hebrew books, and especially Hebrew manu- scripts, in Cambridge. In the past 150 years Cambridge has become one of the most important centres in the world for Hebrew manuscripts, and the Rabbinics teachers have played a key role in this process. The nineteenth century was a time of spectacular growth in rabbinic and medieval Hebrew scholarship, among both Jews and Christians. Cambridge made a unique contribution to this activity, largely, I think, because of a par- ticularly strong appreciation among Christian scholars of the importance of rabbinic studies for the early history of Christianity, coupled with a sense among many of these scholars that rabbinics was best learnt from Jewish teachers. It was Christians, not Jews, who led the effort to ensure the official recognition of rabbinic Hebrew studies within the University. Among the notable Cambridge publications in rabbinics several were the work of Christian scholars, closely collaborating with Jewish teachers. The acquisi- tion of Hebrew manuscripts for the University and college libraries was another fruit of this collaborative effort. All this is well expressed in the Report of the General Board on the estab- lishment (or rather re-establishment) of a Readership in Rabbinics, in 1930: For a satisfactory understanding of the first centuries of the Christian era an acquaintance with Rabbinic literature is invaluable. Five distinct subjects - religion, literature, topography, history and archaeology - are involved. Moreover, the contribution of Judaism to modern religious and philosophical thought ought not to be overlooked, and the mediaeval literature of the Jews, not merely in its religious but also in its social, historical and other aspects, should not be closed to those who need to consult it. The general public, too, are entitled to look to the University for safe guidance, based on linguistic and historical scholarship. Finally, the important collections of Hebrew MSS. and books in the University and College libraries require the constant assistance of a specialist both in the elucidation of existing material and in keeping it up to date. This help the past Readers have extended not only by personal service but also by obtaining gifts - some of them of considerable interest and value - which would otherwise not have been secured.2 At the same time as the importance of rabbinic study was being in- creasingly appreciated in Cambridge, Jewish scholars in various European 2 Cambridge University Reporter No. 2797, vol. 60, no. 45 (Saturday 21 June 1930), 1 166. 140</page><page sequence="3">Books and bookmen: the Cambridge teachers of Rabbinics 1866-1971 countries were making enormous advances in the study of rabbinic and medieval Hebrew texts, by applying to them the methods of classical schol- arship. The practitioners of this new learning, often referred to as Wissen- schaft des Judentums, although many of them studied in universities, were unable to obtain teaching positions in the universities because of entrenched prejudice. Many supported themselves as rabbis, private teachers or com- munal functionaries. Eventually "shadow universities" were set up in the form of rabbinical seminaries, where these scholars were able to gain employ- ment as teachers and to pursue their research in a congenial and supportive academic environment. After some early experiments in Padua and Paris (both 1829), the first of these modernizing seminaries was established in Breslau in 1854. The following year Jews' College was opened in London, and similar institutions were set up elsewhere, notably Budapest (1877) and Vienna (1893). The roll-call of scholars who studied and taught in these sem- inaries is impressive indeed. Unable to publish their research in other jour- nals, they set up specialized journals, notably the Monatsschrift fur Geschichte und Wissenschaft des Judentums (founded originally in Dresden in 1851), and later the Revue des Etudes Juives (Paris 1880). Their English-language equiv- alents are part of my story. The first university formally to appoint a Jewish scholar to teach rabbinic studies was Cambridge, where in 1866 Solomon Marcus Schiller-Szinessy was appointed "Teacher of Talmudic and Rabbinic Literature". Remarkably, this was five years before the passing of the Universities Tests Act 1871, which enabled practising Jews, and other non- Anglicans, for the first time to take up fellowships at Cambridge colleges. An analysis of all the factors that led to this "Cambridge first" is beyond my scope.3 Let us turn instead to the person of the first of my subjects. I Solomon Marcus Schiller-Szinessy was born on 23 December 1820 in Óbuda (Old Buda, now part of Budapest), the son of a rabbi and merchant.4 As a child he attended a Jewish school, but also received private instruction in the Talmud from various rabbis. At the age of fifteen he left home and went to study, first in the Royal Gymnasium in Gyöngyös, 50 miles east of Budapest, and then in the important Evangelic Lutheran College of Eperjes (now 3 Some of them are mentioned in S. C. Reif, "A Jewish usurper among Chistian Hebraists? - Cambridge 1966", in Hebrew study from Ezra to Ben- Yehuda , ed. W. Horbury (Edinburgh, 1994), 279-92. 4 For many of the biographical details that follow I am indebted to Raphael Loewe, "Solomon Marcus Schiller-Szinessy, 1820-1890, first Reader in Talmudic and Rabbinic Literature at Cambridge", Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England 21 (1968), 148-89. 141</page><page sequence="4">Nicholas de Lange Prešov in Slovakia), founded in 1667. He gained a PhD from the University of Jena in mathematics and philosophy in 1845. He had previously, in 1843, received rabbinic ordination, after three weeks of intensive study, from the famous reforming rabbi Aron Chorin of Arad (1766-1844), who also ordained Leopold Zunz and other prominent scholars of the time. Schiller- Szinessy had thus gained the best all-round education to which an intellec- tually gifted and ambitious Jewish student of his place and time could aspire. He was fluent enough in Latin to lecture in it but, so far as I know, he had no Greek. After completing his studies at Jena he returned for a time to Eperjes, where, while serving as a preacher at the synagogue, he also taught at his old college, a remarkable achievement for a Jew at that time. Lajos Kossuth, the leader of the abortive Hungarian revolution of 1849, had also studied at the College. Schiller, an ardent militant in the Magyar cause, was wounded, cap- tured and imprisoned by the Austrians. He somehow escaped and made his way to England, settling in Manchester, where he served as a communal rabbi, first as "Local Rabbi" of the Old Hebrew Congregation (the main Ashkenazi Orthodox synagogue in the city) and later as the first minister of the breakaway Reform synagogue.5 He swiftly gained a reputation for his scholarship and his skill as a preacher. In 1863 he settled in Cambridge, where he supported himself by giving private lessons. Two years later he was engaged by Henry Bradshaw, then the keeper of the University's manuscripts, at the latter's private expense, to work on the Hebrew manuscripts in the University Library. The following year, in 1866, he was formally appointed as Teacher of Talmudic and Rabbinic Literature in the University, the first time such a position was officially recognised, although for some time it had been the practice to pay sums of money to occa- sional "Hebrew Teachers", such as Joseph Crool, "who held the post of Hebrew Teacher for upwards of 30 years (1806-1838)".6 CrooPs successor, Dr Hermann Bernard, a Christian of Jewish background, had died in 1857, leaving something of a gap. Although Bernard had followed Crool without an interval, and had received a stipend from the University, this was in no sense an established post. Crool was not the only teacher of Rabbinics, though: P. H. Mason (1827-1912), of St John's College, had been giving lessons in the subject for some years; he took Schiller's appointment as a per- sonal affront.7 Arthur Lukyn Williams (1853-1943), who studied under both Mason and 5 On this period of his life see Bill Williams, The making of Manchester Jewry, 1740-1875 (Manchester, 1976 ), passim. 6 Testimonial in favour of Schiller-Szinessy by Robert L. Bensly, University of Cambridge Archives, CUR 39.17.3. 7 See his letter to the Syndics of the University Press, dated 19 May 1866, in the University Archives, Pr.B.4.1. 198-9. 142</page><page sequence="5">Books and bookmen: the Cambridge teachers of Rabbinics 1866-1971 Schiller, and later translated the first tractate of the Mishnah and Tosefta,8 wrote of him: "Peter Hamnett Mason has hardly received that recognition at the hands of scholars and historians which he deserves. For, after all, no one has ever done so much as he to develop the study of Hebrew in the University of Cambridge. It was not only his knowledge that attracted his pupils; it was also his enthusiasm and his outlook: he deliberately refused to write books, so that he might have the more time and energy for his pupils."9 Schiller's appointment was initially for three years, at an annual stipend of £30, the same amount as had been paid to Bernard. The appointment was renewed at three-yearly intervals, and at the same stipend, until in 1875 fr was renewed for ten years, at an annual stipend of £100. In 1885 Charles Taylor, a former pupil of Schiller's and a man of independent means, donated £200 to the University to raise his stipend from £300 to £350 p.a. for four years. Schiller died on 1 1 March 1890. Schiller-Szinessy's most lasting legacy is his work on the Hebrew manu- scripts in the University Library. He wrote detailed descriptions of about two-thirds of the manuscripts, which are (or should be) the first port of call for anyone interested in the manuscripts. Only one volume of the Catalogue was published in 1876, covering 72 manuscripts of the biblical text and com- mentaries.10 A slim second volume, comprising 25 Talmudic manuscripts, was printed but never formally published. The full manuscript of his descrip- tions, in six bound volumes, is now itself classified as one of the Library's manuscripts, and is available on request in the Manuscript Reading Room. It is an extraordinarily fine specimen of the bibliographer's art, and hardly has an equal for the fullness of its treatments.11 Herbert Loewe, writing of his descriptions of manuscripts, attributes to him "knowledge that bordered on omniscience, a knowledge that few since have approached and none have equalled"12. The Library acquired large numbers of Hebrew manuscripts during the time when he worked there, by purchase or by gift, thanks to his vision and to his contact with booksellers in Central Europe, such as Samuel Schönblum of Lemberg (Polish Lwów, now Ukrainian Lviv) and Hirsch Lipschütz of Cracow, and to the generosity of his pupils, such as W. A. Wright and Charles Taylor (whose collection included several manuscripts that had belonged to Schiller, and even one that he had copied himself for Taylor). 8 Tractate Berakoth (Benedictions): Mishna and Tosephta , translated from the Hebrew with intro- ductions and notes (London and New York, 1921). 9 A. Lukyn Williams, Talmudic Judaism and Christianity (London, 1933J, viii-ix. 10 S. M. Schiller-Szinessy, Catalogue of the Hebrew Manuscripts preserved in the University Library , Cambridge (Cambridge, 1876). 11 Schiller's descriptions form the basis for the very brief descriptions in Stefan C. Reif, Hebrew manuscripts at the University Library, Cambridge (Cambridge, 1997). 12 Preface to his Handlist, reproduced in ibid., 43. 143</page><page sequence="6">Nicholas de Lange Schiller also catalogued the Hebrew and other Semitic manuscripts in Trinity College Library13 and published a description of the unique entire manuscript of the Palestinian Talmud.14 Among his other publications one deserves special mention: his edition of the First Book of Psalms with David Kimhi's commentary.15 This remains the only critical edition of the commentary (though seriously marred by the lack of a textual apparatus). In the elegant Hebrew rhymed prose of the Preface, Schiller describes the genesis of the work: a number of his pupils16 wanted to read the Psalms with Kimhi's commentary, but the printed edi- tions were full of mistakes. His "pupil and friend" W. H. Lowe (1848-1917), the editor of the Mishnah from a manuscript acquired for the Library in 1 869, 17 offered to accompany him on a trip to Paris to study the many man- uscripts of the work in the Bibliothèque Nationale: "So we travelled to Paris together, and this is how we worked: I read the variants aloud (and they were innumerable!), and he cheerfully noted them down. The days were oppres- sively hot (it was July and August), but the sweetness of the Rabbinic tongue made them like the cool of night. We stayed in Paris for seven weeks, we wrote for five days a week, and we studied for six hours a day, and by God's grace we found many pearls". He also pays tribute to another pupil, who has already been mentioned: Dr Charles Taylor (1840-1908), the Master of St John's College. He was a math- ematician with a strong interest in Rabbinics, who in 1877 had published an annotated edition and translation of the Mishnah tractate Aboth.18 Schiller thanks Taylor for his generosity, and indeed we recall that he later paid part of Schiller's stipend out of his own pocket. Also singled out for mention in the Preface is Henry Bradshaw ( 1 83 1-86), the University Librarian, whom Schiller mentions as his teacher: "He opened his treasure-house to me, and did not spare his time or his money ... He bought several manuscripts, including one of Kimhi". This was Ms Add. 1 574, a fifteenth-century manuscript of Kimhi's commentary on the Psalms, 13 Appendix (written with W. A. Wright) to E. H. Palmer, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Arabic, Persian , and Turkish Manuscripts in the Library of Trinity College , Cambridge (Cambridge and London, 1870). 14 A Description of the Ley den MS of the Palestinian Talmud (Cambridge, 1878). 15 The Psalms with Qimchi's longer commentary , I (Cambridge and Leipzig, 1883). Only the first volume was published. 16 Including, first and foremost, George Phillips (President of Queens' College, 1857-92), and also W. Wright, W. Aldis Wright, R. L. Benslv, A. E. Budge and ten or so others. 17 The Mishnah on which the Palestinian Talmud rests ; edited . . .from the unique manuscript preserved in the University Library of Cambridge, Add.470.1 (Cambridge, 1883). 18 Sayings of the Jewish Fathers , comprising Pirqe Aboth and Pereq R. Meir in Hebrew and English , with critical and illustrative notes and specimen pages of the the Cambridge University manuscript of the Mishnah "Jerushalmith " from which the text of Aboth is taken (Cambridge, 1877). 144</page><page sequence="7">Books and bookmen: the Cambridge teachers of Rabbinics 1866-1971 bought in 1876 from the scholar Solomon Joachim Halberstam of Bielitz (1832-1900), whose notes are bound in with it. Schiller-Szinessy was clearly a gifted and devoted teacher. He liked to say that he was "the disciple of great teachers and the teacher of great disci- ples".19 In Lukyn Williams's judgment "He was probably the best Talmudic scholar in England, not excepting Neubauer20 ... He was to me a most lovable and learned teacher and friend."21 He established the Readership on a sound basis, and gained respect for himself and his subject. His disciples continued his work, published rabbinic texts, and transmitted what they had learnt from him to their own pupils. He was known affectionately as "the Rabbi" and credited by some with theurgic powers: on one winter Friday afternoon, it was said, he had found himself locked inside the precinct of the Senate House, and by some unknown means had suddenly found himself miraculously transported outside the railings.22 II Soon after Schiller-Szinessy's death the Readership was formally sup- pressed23 but £100 p.a. was devoted to the teaching of Talmudics. Under this arrangement, Solomon Schechter was appointed University Lecturer in Talmudics. However, by the end of the following year the Lectureship was converted back into a Readership,24 thanks to a generous benefaction by Claude Goldsmid Montefiore (1858-1938). Montefiore promised the University an annual sum of £250, "to continue so long as Mr Schechter held the office and then to lapse".25 A scion of several of the wealthiest Anglo-Jewish families, Montefiore was a considerable philanthropist. He was also, unusually for a Jew, a prominent New Testament scholar who wrote a two- volume commentary on the syn- optic Gospels, and he was one of the founders of Liberal Judaism in Britain. After reading classics at Balliol College, Oxford, he went to Berlin to study Judaism and it was there that he met Solomon Schechter. Solomon Schechter had been born on 7 December 1847 in the Romanian town of Focçani, an important trade center on the Molda vian-Wallachian 19 Loewe, "Solomon Marcus Schiller-Szinessy", 162. 20 On Adolf Neubauer (1831-1907), Reader in Rabbinic Hebrew at Oxford, and a sub-librarian at the Bodleian Library, whose Hebrew manuscripts he catalogued, see E. Horowitz, &lt;UA Jew of the old type'": Neubauer as cataloguer, critic, and necrologist", Jewish Quarterly Review 100 (2010), 649-56. 21 Lukyn Williams, Talmudic Judaism and Christianity , viii-ix. 22 See Loewe, "Solomon Marcus Schiller-Szinessy", 162-3. 23 Grace of 28 April 1890. 24 Grace of 17 December 1891. 25 Cambridge University Reporter 1891-92, 240. HS</page><page sequence="8">Nicholas de Lange border. His father, a follower of Habad Hasidism, was his first teacher; then he studied at yeshivot but he had a restless curiosity and read widely among Jewish authors who were frowned on in theyeshivah, such as Josephus and Maimonides. Eventually he made his way to Vienna, where in 1875 he entered the Bet ha-Midrash , an institution which had been founded by Adolf Jellinek (1821-93), a noted midrashic scholar and preacher, and which can be seen as a precursor of the more famous Israelitisch Theologische Lehranstalt, founded in 1893. Other teachers there in Schechter's time included Isaac Hirsch Weiss (1815-1905), the author of the remarkable five-volume history of the oral Torah Dor dor ve-dorshav , and Meir Friedmann (Ish-Shalom; 1 83 1-1908), a prolific editor of midrashim. Schechter was ordained as a rabbi at this time. While in Vienna he also attended some courses at the university in philosophy and the Romanian language. In 1879 he left Vienna for Berlin, where he entered the Hochschule fur die Wissenschaft des Judentums, which had been founded in 1870 by the scholar and religious reformer Abraham Geiger (1810-74). The Hochschule was at the very forefront of the Wissenschaft des Judenthums movement. In Berlin Schechter particularly came under the influence of the rabbinic scholar Israel Lewy (1841-1917), who was a teacher at the Hochschule, and of Moritz Steinschneider (1816-1907), the great bibliographer, who, unable to teach in the University and scorning to teach at the Hochschule, which he regarded as a scholarly ghetto, was employed as the head of a Jewish girls' school. After Leopold Zunz, Steinschneider was the greatest pioneering scholar of the Wissenschaft move- ment. His catalogue of the printed Hebrew books in the Bodleian library26 and a series of catalogues of Hebrew manuscripts had laid the foundations for Hebrew bibliographical study and opened up vast fields of research in Jewish literature. While he was in Berlin Schechter also followed courses in the University in a wide range of subjects: he attended lectures by such eminent authorities as Dillmann on Old Testament textual criticism, Strack on Hebrew grammar, Droysen on ancient history, Zeller and Paulsen on phi- losophy and Moritz Lazarus (who also taught at the Hochschule) on psy- chology, pedagogy and aesethetics.27 The encounter which would change Schechter's life radically was not with an older scholar but with Claude Montefiore, who was only in his 20s. The young Montefiore persuaded Schechter to accompany him back to London in 1882 as his private tutor in rabbinics. Thanks to Montefiore's financial support, Schechter was able to study the rich collections of Hebrew manu- scripts in the British Museum and the Bodleian Library. In 1883 he wrote to a friend of a wonderful manuscript of the Midrash ha-Gadol , a previously unstudied midrashic compilation on the Pentateuch, which had been brought 26 Catalogus Librorum Hebrceorum in Bibliotheca Bodleiana (Berlin, 1852-60). 27 Norman Bentwich, Solomon Schechter: a biography (Cambridge, 1938), 44f. 146</page><page sequence="9">Books and bookmen: the Cambridge teachers of Rabbinics 1866-1971 from Yemen and given to him by Montefiore. He set to work studying it and in 1890 in his application for the lectureship at Cambridge he described the editing of the " Great midrash " as his main scholarly project.28 Later, in 1902, Schechter was to publish part of this work, on the book of Genesis, from various Yemeni manuscripts.29 The list of testimonials that Schechter attached to his application to Cambridge reads like a roll-call of Jewish scholarship at the time: it includes the names of his old teachers Jellinek and Weiss from Vienna, Steinschneider from Berlin, Wilhelm (Vilmos) Bacher (1850-1913) and David Kaufmann (1852-99) from Budapest, the historian Heinrich Graetz (1817-91) of Breslau, and Adolf Neubauer in Oxford, as well as two Oxford professors, Samuel Rolles Driver (1846-1914) and Thomas Kelly Cheyne (1841-1915), and specialists in other fields such as Jacob Freudenthal (1839-1907), pro- fessor of philosophy at Breslau.30 In September 1890, then, Schechter was appointed as a Lecturer, and in February 1892 he was promoted Reader. He was a member (though never a fellow) of Christ's College, where William Robertson Smith, Professor of Arabic, was a fellow, and a strong supporter of Schechter; in fact it was he who suggested to Montefiore that he underwrite Schechter's promotion.31 Another Fellow of Christ's was Norman McLean,32 University Lecturer in Aramaic and later Master of the College. Other close academic associates of Schechter during his time at Cambridge included Francis Crawford Burkitt, Rendell Harris and Charles Taylor, whose name has become inseparable from that of Schechter in connection with the Cairo Genizah manuscripts. The story of this remarkable cache of manuscripts and the parts played by Taylor and Schechter, as well as the University Librarian Francis Jenkinson, in bringing most of them to Cambridge has often been told, and I do not propose to retell it here.33 Suffice it to say that it has ensured for Schechter a monument more lasting than bronze and for Cambridge a reputation of being 28 Bentwich, Solomon Schechter , 81. 29 Midrash hag-gadol , forming a collection of ancient Rabbinic homilies to the Pentateuch ; edited for the first time from various Yemen manuscripts and provided with notes and preface by S. Schechter (Cambridge, 1902). 30 Bentwich, Solomon Schechter , 81. 31 See further S. C. Reif, "William Robertson Smith in relation to Hebraists and Jews at Christ's College, Cambridge", in William Robertson Smith: Essays in Reassessment , ed. W. Johnstone (Sheffield, 1995), 210-23. 32 He is chiefly remembered for editing, with A. E. Brooke, the larger Cambridge Septuagint. There is a brief memoir of his work by H. St .J. Hart, "Norman McLean, 1865-1947", Proceedings of the British Academy 63 (1977), 399-401 . 33 S. C. Reif, A Jewish Archive from Old Cairo (Richmond, Surrey, 2000); Reif, "Jenkinson and Schechter at Cambridge: an expanded and updated assessment", Jewish Historical Studies: Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England 32 (1990-92), 279-316. H?</page><page sequence="10">Nicholas de Lange "the Mecca of Genizah studies", in the quaint phrase of a more recent scholar.34 In addition to his Readership in Talmudics, Schechter held the post of Under-Curator, and from 1900 Curator, in the University Library. He also held the Chair of Hebrew at University College London, from 1898, succeeding David Marks, the Senior Minister of the Reform Jewish Congregation. Despite all these opportunities for teaching and research, Schechter was, by his own account, not happy in England. Deeply antipathetic though he was to organized religion, he felt the lack of a regular Jewish community in Cambridge; his financial dependence on Montefiore irked him; and he felt that his qualities and achievements were not sufficiently recognized. He wrote to a friend, Herbert Bentwich (1856-1932), a fellow member of the circle of the Wanderers and the Maccabaeans in London (on which more presently), in 1899: "It is not a question so much of money as of having some recognition from an institution for which I have done so much. But I am afraid both we and our science (Jewish learning), are in Exile (Galuth) even in England. This is the point which embitters my life, even more than the comparative poverty with which we have had to struggle."35 For several years, in fact from the time when he arrived in Cambridge, he received invitations to go to America, specifically to the Jewish Theological Seminary, founded in New York in 1886. On the death of the founding President of the Seminary, Sabato Morais, in 1897, Schechter was offered the Presidency, and after protracted negotiations he took it up in 1902. He died on 19 November 19 15. Schechter's time in Cambridge, in contrast to his American years, was inextricably bound up with Hebrew manuscripts. He continued his prede- cessor's work of describing the Hebrew manuscripts in the University Library and he was actively involved in the acquisition of new manuscripts for the Library, in conjunction with the Librarian, Francis Jenkinson (1853-1923). His coup in going to Egypt in 1896-7 and bringing back the bulk of the Cairo Genizah manuscripts was the stuff of legend, and immea- surably enriched the importance of Cambridge in Hebrew studies. Schechter's publications reflect his strong interest in manuscript research. After cutting his teeth, as it were, on a couple of editions, he published his first major work in 1887: an edition of the Aboth de Rabbi Nathan .36 This important aggadic text exists in two different recensions, one which had been 34 S. D. Goitein, A Mediterranean Society, I (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1967), vii. 35 Bentwich, Solomon Schechter , 98. 36 Aboth de Rabbi Nathan: hujus libri recensiones duas collatis variis apud bibliothecas et publicas etpri- vatas codicibus edidit; prooemium notas appendices indicesque addidit , Salomon Schechter (Vienna, London and Frankfurt, 1887). 148</page><page sequence="11">Books and bookmen: the Cambridge teachers of Rabbinics 1866-1971 printed several times among the so-called minor tractates of the Babylonian Talmud, the other previously unpublished. Schechter edited both recensions in parallel columns, and his edition has been hailed as one of the best early editions of a rabbinic text. With no scholarly position or even a university degree at the time, this publication established Schechter's credentials in decisive fashion. Between 1892 and 1894 he published a series of "Notes on Hebrew man- uscripts in the University Library, Cambridge" in the Jewish Quarterly Review , a new journal founded in 1888 by Claude Montefiore and Israel Abrahams. Also in the Jewish Quarterly Review he published a homiletical midrash on the Song of Songs, from a unique manuscript in Parma. In 1896 he published it in book form, dedicated to Moritz Steinschneider on his 80th birthday.37 In the same year, together with Simeon Singer (1846-1906; an Anglo-Jewish minister remembered today for his his new edition and English translation of the Authorized Daily Prayer Book , first published in 1890), he published some Talmudical fragments in the Bodleian Library.38 From 1897 on, his attention was mainly focused on the Genizah fragments, many of which he published himself in the pages of the Jewish Quarterly Review . In 1899, together with Charles Taylor, he brought out an edition of Genizah fragments of the book of Ecclesiasticus.39 After leaving for America he con- tinued to publish Genizah materials, notably fragments of Saadya Gaon,40 and what he called "a Zadokite work", which has subsequently been discov- ered also among the Dead Sea Scrolls.41 He also published various collections of articles and lectures on historical and theological subjects.42 Solomon Schechter held the post for the shortest length of time and was the only holder to resign in favour of a position elsewhere. He is the best- known of all the holders, although probably less for his scholarly contribu- tion, impressive though that is, than for the part he is remembered as playing in the foundation and establishment of the Conservative movement in American Judaism. In Cambridge his name is perpetuated, jointly with that 37 Agadath Shir Hashirim, edited from a Parma MS., annotated and illustrated with parallel passages from numerous MSS. and early prints , with a postscript on the history of the work (Cambridge, 1 896). The text was also published by Salomon Buber (Berlin, 1894). 38 Talmudical fragments in the Bodleian Library (Cambridge, 1896). 39 The Wisdom of Ben Sira : portions of the book Ecclesiasticus from Hebrew manuscripts in the Cairo Genizah collection presented to the University of Cambridge by the editors (Cambridge and New York, 1899). 40 Saadyana: Genizah fragments of writings by Rabbi Saadya Gaon and others (Cambridge, 1903). 41 Documents of Jewish Sectaries (Cambridge, 19 10). The work is generally known today as the Damascus Rule. 42 Notably Studies in Judaism, 3 vols. (London and vol. ) Philadelphia, 1896-1924); Some Aspects of Rabbinic Theology (London, 1909). For further information see Adolph S. Oko, Solomon Schechter , M. A., LITT. D. : A Bibliography (Cambridge, 1938). 149</page><page sequence="12">Nicholas de Lange of Charles Taylor, in the classification system of the University Library, where the designation "Taylor-Schechter" is attached to the main collection of Genizah manuscripts. He has left behind the memory of a passionate and somewhat fierce-tempered man, capable of strong friendship but also able to cause offence. His somewhat wild appearance and fiery temperament are well summed up in an anecdote I have by oral tradition: his friend Herbert Bentwich had on the wall of his study an engraving by Dürer showing an Old Testament prophet, with unkempt beard and blazing eyes. On one occasion Schechter rang the doorbell and the new housemaid ran breathlessly to Bentwich to announce him: "Sir, sir, it's the gentleman in the picture!"43 An appreciation of his contribution to Cambridge was expressed in the Address that was presented to him on his departure: "The indefatigable zeal with which you have discharged your duties as Reader in Talmudics would in itself entitle you to the gratitude of the University. But, however great may be the work which you have performed in an unofficial capacity, it is far sur- passed in importance by the researches which have gained for you a pre- eminent place in the history of Jewish studies".44 Yet Schechter himself, as I have already intimated, often felt lonely, alien- ated and unappreciated in Cambridge. He did not engage with Christianity in the way that his predecessor had and that his successor was to do after him. In fact he could be outspoken and even somewhat contemptuous on the subject. In a letter sent to a Jewish friend in 1894 he wrote: If you had the misfortune to read as much Christian theology as I do, you would be convinced that ... at bottom they are longing for nothing else than the savage god or gods which the policy of Charlemagne took away from them . . . Are there no such things as truth and untruth? And is it not the duty of the teacher to expound the former and to warn against the latter, even at the risk of hurting fools? Or is the mission of theology like that of a leader-writer in "The Times", whose business it is to register public opinion and throw it in some shape of Oxford English with a touch of sham philosophy, so that the Philistines are almost astonished at the depth of their own wisdom?45 Schechter doubted his impact as a teacher. "I have no influence among the Christians here", he wrote. "The utmost I have are two pupils on the average, with whom I read for the Tripos."46 There is something in this: he made himself colleagues in Cambridge but he did not raise up many disciples. With the benefit of hindsight, one of his successors remarked that "Schechter had 43 This story was told to me by the late Ignaz Maybaum (1897-1976); I do not know where he heard it. 44 Bentwich, Solomon S chechtej i io-i i . 45 Letter to R. Gottheil, quoted by Bentwich, Solomon Schechter , 101-2. 46 Ibid., 98. 150</page><page sequence="13">Books and bookmen: the Cambridge teachers of Rabbinics 1866-1971 less time for post-graduate teaching than his predecessor . . . His lectures to the undergraduates were extremely popular. These and the Genizah publi- cations were quite enough to occupy his whole time. Hence a generation of seniors grew up that knew not Rabbinics as their fathers did."47 Ill The third Reader was, by contrast with his exotic predecessors, a very English figure, and he amply repaired any deficiency of Schechter in this respect. Israel Abrahams (1858-1925) was born on 26 November 1858 at 10 Finsbury Square, London. This was the address of Jews' College, a training college for ministers and teachers, and of a day-school, Jews' College School. Both had been founded in 1855. The first "Head Master" was Dr Louis Loewe (1809-88) who had previously held an appointment of "orientalist" to the Duke of Sussex and had experience of running a Jewish school in Brighton. (His grandson Herbert Loewe became Israel Abrahams's succes- sor at Cambridge.) Dr Loewe was appointed for three years and, on his res- ignation in September 1858, was succeeded by Israel Abrahams's father, Barnett Abrahams (1831-63), previously the Dayan (rabbinical judge) of the Spanish and Portuguese Congregation. He served as Principal of Jews' College School from 1858 and of Jews' College itself from 1861 until his early death at the age of 32. His wife, Jane Rodriguez Brandon, came from a long- established Sephardi family, and Israel Abrahams worshipped in his youth at the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue in Be vis Marks. He acquired his Hebrew education from his father, and was educated from 1872 at Jews' College and University College London, where he graduated with an MA in philosophy in 1 88 1. He was a lecturer at Jews' College from 1881, and from 1899 Senior Tutor, until 1902, when he left to go to Cambridge. Considering its close connection with the Chief Rabbinate and the Orthodox establish- ment, the College was in Abrahams's time a remarkably open-minded insti- tution: for example, Claude Montefiore, a critic of Orthodoxy, used to preside at prize-giving. Israel Abrahams took a lively interest in everything Jewish and was fond of the company of like-minded people. He was an active member of an eclec- tic group of men who called themselves "the Wanderers", because they met in each other's rooms and because they were free to digress from the subject under discussion. The group was dominated by the novelist Israel Zangwill, the folklorist and literary critic Joseph Jacobs, and Solomon Schechter. Among the other participants were the journalist Asher Myers, the historian Lucien Wolf, and the artist Solomon J. Solomon. In 1891 Abrahams was a 47 Herbert Loewe, Israel Abrahams: A Biographical Sketch (typescript, 1944), 75. 151</page><page sequence="14">Nicholas de Lange founder of the Society of Maccabaeans, a society of Jews in the professions. In 1893 he was one of the founders of the Jewish Historical Society of England; he also edited its transactions and was its president in 1904-5. He was a fluent and elegant preacher and writer. He published books on various aspects of Judaism, the best-known being Jewish Life in the Middle Ages (1896, which originated in lectures to a working men's club). From 1885 until 19 19 he wrote many articles in the Jewish Chronicle, mostly in a column headed "Books and Bookmen". From 1889 to 1908 he and Claude Montefiore edited and partly wrote the Jewish Quarterly Review , for which Montefiore provided financial backing. Abrahams was thus in many ways a natural choice to succeed Solomon Schechter when he left for New York in 1902. Yet Schechter himself had doubts, which in his direct way he expressed in reply to a request by Abrahams for a testimonial on his behalf: Of course I will give you a testimonial. But you must give me your promise that you will devote yourself for the next three years entirely to Rabbinic literature Halakha + Aggadah. You must excuse my frankness with you, but this is a Rabbinic Chair, and the first thing which will be required of you is not Hellenism or English history, but the exposition of Rabbinic texts. We must not forget that men like [Charles] Taylor, [Arthur] Chapman &amp; [William Emery] Barnes are not "Amei Ha'aretz" and know as much Rabbinics as the regular London Ministers who are in the Jews College. Of Biblical Hebrew they know infinitely more. It would be thus a calamity if they find that the Rab. Reader makes mistakes, or is not able to answer their letters when they ask for information. You must excuse my being so frank with you. But the whole future of Rab. Studies in England is largely depending on this Chair, and nothing less than the best will do.48 Schechter contrives to appear both somewhat paranoid in the face of Christian Hebrew scholars and patronising towards Abrahams, who was per- fectly well able to respond to the enquiries of Christian theologians about rab- binic matters, as his two volumes of Studies in Pharisaism and the Gospels were later to demonstrate. Apart from Schechter his referees included Bacher from Budapest and Driver and Cheyne from Oxford, who had all previously supported Schechter, and such well known specialists as A. E. Cowley of Oxford, G. H. Dalman of Leipzig, M. Friedmann of Vienna, A. Harkavy of St Petersburg and Israel Lévi of Paris. 48 Full text of the letter in D. B. Starr, "The importance of being frank: Solomon Schechter's departure from Cambridge", Jewish Quarterly Review n.s. 94 (2004), 12-18. (Starr fails to appre- ciate the occasion of the letter, which is dated 16 February 1902.) 152</page><page sequence="15">Books and bookmen: the Cambridge teachers of Rabbinics 1866-1971 Abrahams took to Cambridge as Schechter had never done, although he had no previous connection with the University. Yet he had studied at London and had close connections with Oxford, where he had gone for pur- poses of research. He was on friendly terms with the Oxford Hebraists, including Driver, Cowley, Neubauer and Steinschneider. Abrahams was made a member of Christ's, Schechter's old college. He took an active inter- est in the University Press and advised the Syndics of the Press in his subject. Apart from his undergraduate teaching he regularly attended the weekly seminar offered by the Hebraist Arthur Chapman in his rooms in Emmanuel. Chapman, whose name is still commemorated in what used to be his garden in Emmanuel, had been a pupil of Schiller-Szinessy, as had Annesley William Streane (1844-1915). Both were keen students of rabbinics and after Schiller's death they had kept up their study on their own. They were delighted to have Abrahams as their teacher and the circle eventually expanded to take in many of the younger Cambridge theologians.49 One of them, William Alexander Leslie Elmslie, of Westminster College, went on to edit a tractate of the Mishnah, Avodah Zar ah .50 In 1906 Abrahams was made Curator of Oriental Literature in the University Library. His pupil and successor Herbert Loewe describes him in the Library: "He was always examining the MSS. and leaving notes on slips of paper to help those who followed him."51 He died in Cambridge on 6 October 1925 and was cremated at the Golders Green crematorium in London. Herbert Loewe, in his memoir about his teacher, has left us this pen- portrait of Abrahams: You would consult him about a difficulty and he would make an appointment at the Library, where you would find all the books in readiness. He would take you from Room 12, where the Hebrew Collection stands, to the most out-of- the-way parts of the building and would show you an undreamed-of clue in European literature or art or folklore. He would bring you back to Room 12, your note-book bulging with slips, talking as he went, until you sank down exhausted at a table, when he would proceed to summarise the morning's walk and work, and when the University Church struck one o'clock you would find a methodical scheme, fully equipped with material, on your last page. And then he would take you to lunch and give you a cigar. When you said goodbye he would probably return to the Library and do the same for some one else all over again, unless the University were playing the Australians at Fenner's!52 49 Loewe, Israel Abrahams, 98. 50 The Mishnah on idolatry: 'Aboda Zara (Cambridge, 191 1). 51 Loewe, Israel Abrahams , 96. M Ibid., 76-7. ISS</page><page sequence="16">Nicholas de Lange In point of devotion to manuscripts and their study, Israel Abrahams cannot stand direct comparison with Schiller-Szinessy or Schechter. The library's collections did not grow dramatically during his tenure nor was he a cataloguer. Yet he did not by any means neglect the manuscripts. He was "an indefatigable worker in the Genizah"53 and published some Genizah doc- uments.54 He devoted many years to a study of an important manuscript of the French prayer rite and prepared it for publication, but eventually decided not to publish it after the publication of the Mahzor Vitry from a manuscript in the British Museum.55 Abrahams was an extraordinarily prolific author. He wrote some thirty books, of which the best known is Jewish Life in the Middle Ages, published before he came to Cambridge.56 This was very popular in its day, and a revised and enlarged edition was brought out by Cecil Roth in 1932. His Annotated Hebrew Prayer Book (19 14) should be read with the Companion (1922) to the Prayer Book edited by Simeon Singer, whose daughter Abrahams had married and for whom he had great affection and respect. The two series of Studies in Pharisaism and the Gospels (19 17 and 1924) show Abrahams at his best as a rabbinics scholar engaging with Christian origins. He left several books unfinished or unpublished at his death. Jewish Ethical Wills (in which he presented with English translations a vast range of spiri- tual wills over the ages) was published posthumously in 1926. Starrs and Jewish Charters , a collection of quitclaim documents in Latin, with Hebrew summaries, in the British Museum, was begun with H. P. Stokes; it was com- pleted after Abrahams's death by Herbert Loewe.57 Abrahams planned that unjustly forgotten volume of essays The Legacy of Israel (1927) as a companion to two highly successful works, Sir Richard Livingstone's The Legacy of Greece (1921) and Cyril Bailey's The Legacy of Rome (1923). He edited it with the historian Edwyn Bevan (1870-1943) but died before it was completed; his brother-in-law Charles Singer (1876-1960), an extraordinary physician, zoologist, historian of science and medicine, and historian, took over his part of the editing. As has been seen, Abrahams was born and brought up in the bosom of Anglo-Jewish Orthodoxy, but he was a broad-minded man and was deeply 53 Ibid., 97. 54 E.g. "A formula and a responsum", in Jews1 College Jubilee Volume, ed. I. Harris (London, 1906), 101-8. 55 S. Hurwitz, Machsor Vitry (Berlin, 1893). 56 For a not uncritical assessment, see E. Horowitz, "Jewish Life in the Middle Ages and the Jewish life of Israel Abrahams", in The Jewish Past Revisited: Reflections on Modern Jewish Historians , ed. D. Myers and D. Ruderman (New Haven, CT, 1998), 143-62. For a list of his writings see D. Wright, "Select Bibliography of the Works of Israel Abrahams", in Jewish Studies in Memory of Israel Abrahams (New York, 1927), xix-xlvii. 57 Starrs and Jewish Charters preserved in the British Museum (Cambridge, 1932). 154</page><page sequence="17">Books and bookmen: the Cambridge teachers of Rabbinics 1866-1971 sympathetic to Liberal Judaism, as represented by Claude Montefiore and Lily Montagu. In 1902 he was a member of the first committee of the Jewish Religious Union and helped to draft the Union's first prayer book. He remained involved in the Liberal movement and conducted the first service at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue, London, in 191 1. Nevertheless, always a believer in pluralism, he managed to remain loyal to his Orthodox roots as well. Claude Montefiore wrote of him: "Israel Abrahams was not only an ardent Liberal, but he was, at the same time, a warm defender of the religious values of Rabbinic and orthodox Judaism." 58 He was also, in contrast to Schechter, deeply interested in, and sympa- thetic to, Christianity. A former pupil, Ephraim Levine, said of Abrahams that "He was wont to excel when in the company of Christian scholars", while a Christian colleague, F. C. Burkitt, wrote of him that "More than any Jews I ever met including Montefiore - he seemed to understand the aims of serious Christian scholarship and investigation".59 Lukyn Williams wrote of him: "I had known him slightly for many years, but was already becoming elderly when I first attended his public classes. But I learned then to value his careful scholarship and the resilience of his memory. Besides, he had what neither Peter Mason nor Schiller-Szinessy possessed in any special degree: the gift of language. Hence it is, in part, that his Jewish Life in the Middle Ages (1896) has proved to be one of the most attractive books of the end of the last century." And he added: "No one was more respected and loved by those who came under his influence."60 IV The Readership in Rabbinics which was held by Israel Abrahams for 21 years lapsed with his death in 1925. There was no endowment to support it: it had been maintained by the generosity of Claude Montefiore since 1892. Rabbinics teaching did not cease, though, with Abrahams's death. Herbert Loewe, who had been Abrahams's pupil and was teaching rabbinics at Oxford, had deputized for him occasionally since 1922, and now travelled regularly from Oxford to give what teaching was required.61 Herbert Martin James Loewe was born in London in 1882, one of the sons of James Henry Loewe, a banker. He received a classical education at St Paul's 58 C. G. Montefiore, "Israel Abrahams and Liberal Judaism", in Jewish Studies in Memory of Israel Abrahams , lxii. 59 Letter quoted by F. J. Foakes Jackson, "Israel Abrahams at Cambridge", in ibid., lv. Foakes Jackson also cites, however, and endorses the view of W. E. Barnes that "he was not as kindly (and just) a critic of the Christian view as Montefiore"; ibid., lvii. 60 Lukyn Williams, Talmudic Judaism and Christianity , ix-x. 61 Cambridge University Archives, Report of the General Board, 6. v.3 1 . 155</page><page sequence="18">Nicholas de Lange School and came up to Queens' College in 1901 on an open scholarship. He thus arrived in Cambridge shortly before Schechter's departure, and then became one of Israel Abrahams's first pupils. He took a first in the Oriental Languages Tripos (in Hebrew, Aramaic and Arabic) in 1904; he then took a first in the Theological Tripos. (He was probably the only Jew to read theol- ogy until recent times.) Loewe became a devoted pupil of Abrahams. He also felt a profound debt to Robert Hatch Kennett (1864-1932), College Lecturer in Hebrew and Syriac at Queens' (1887-1903) and Regius Professor of Hebrew (1903-32).62 Loewe stayed on at Cambridge for a while after gradu- ating, as a member of St Catharine's College, where he was a Director of Studies. Between 1909 and 191 1 he held the position of Curator of Oriental Literature in the University Library. He also taught for a while in schools of the Alliance Israélite Universelle in Egypt. In 191 3 he was made a lecturer in Oriental Languages at Exeter College, Oxford, an appointment which was soon interrupted by the First World War, when he served in India. After Abrahams's death in 1925, then, Loewe continued to teach rabbinics at Cambridge in addition to his duties at Oxford. It was not an ideal arrange- ment, particularly as Loewe was in frail health: he suffered from Hodgkin's disease. In 1930 he underwent a serious operation, which fortunately was successful. Meanwhile efforts were being undertaken to raise the necessary funds to lure Loewe back to Cambridge. The leading part in this undertaking was played by Redcliffe N. Salaman (1874-1955), who lived near Cambridge, in the village of Barley. Salaman was interested in genetics and selected the potato as a medium of research: he discovered resistance to potato blight in 1908 and was the first director of the Potato Virus Research Unit founded in Cambridge in 1926. He is best remembered as the author of The History and Social Influence of the Potato , published in 1949. In 1901 Salaman, after a whirlwind romance, had married Nina, the daughter of Arthur Davis, who was a member of the Wanderers, the association to which Schechter and Abrahams had also belonged. Arthur Davis was a keen scholar of Hebrew and brought up his two daughters, Nina and Elsie, with an excellent knowledge of the language and unbounded enthusiasm for it. Nina became known par- ticularly for her translations of medieval Hebrew poetry. Living near Cambridge brought her closer to Israel Abrahams. She died of cancer at the age of 47, in 1925, just a few months before Abrahams. Redcliffe Salaman took a strong interest in the question of the Rabbinics post and, having ascertained that he had the support of F. C. Burkitt (1864-1935), Norris Professor of Divinity, and the Faculty Board for Oriental Languages, he launched an appeal in 1930. By May 193 1 he had 62 See the obituary by Loewe, The Jewish Chronicle , 19 February, 1932. 156</page><page sequence="19">Books and bookmen: the Cambridge teachers of Rabbinics 1866-1971 raised enough funds, largely thanks to a gift from the Chicago businessman and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald, who gave £5000, more than half the total. The Report of the General Board on the establishment of a Readership was approved by the Regent House on 20 June 193 1 . Throughout the appeal it was an open secret that the aim was to bring Herbert Loewe back to Cambridge to succeed his teacher. He was duly appointed and took up office in Michaelmas Term 193 1. James Parkes, who was a graduate student at Exeter College, Oxford, at the time (and later migrated to Barley himself) wrote subsequently that his "departure for Cambridge has left Oxford without a Rabbinics scholar."63 Loewe held the Readership with distinction, appreciated alike for his learning, his teaching and his personal integrity. Sadly, however, his tenure did not last long. He threw himself into the task of rescuing scholars from Nazi persecution and wore himself out by his unstinting efforts to help them. In his Presidential Address to the Society for Old Testament Study, in January 1939, he said: "When human lives are at stake, study seems futile, the pen must be laid down. The mind cannot be focused on literary problems when letters and telephones unceasingly call for instant effort and whole- hearted endeavour, in order to snatch from torture or murder some unknown fellow-creature who appeals for aid".64 He succumbed to Hodgkin's disease the following year, on 9 October 1940, the eve of the Day of Atonement, aged 58. Loewe's contribution to the study of Hebrew manuscripts in Cambridge was considerable. He formed an early intention of cataloguing the Hebrew printed books and manuscripts in the Cambridge college libraries.65 This project was only imperfectly realized. His first serious piece of scholarly work belongs to it: this was a catalogue of the Hebrew manuscripts in Trinity College library that had belonged to William Aldis Wright (1831-1914), the biblical and Shakespearean scholar, who had been a pupil of Schiller- Szinessy and maintained a keen interest in rabbinic Hebrew. He had a remarkable collection of manuscripts, most of which had formerly belonged to C. D. Ginsburg (1831-1914), the well known Masoretic scholar who, like Wright, was one of the revisers of the English Old Testament. With Wright's active help, Loewe completed the catalogue in 1908 but it was not published until 1926.66 63 Preface to The Conflict of the Church and the Synagogue (London, 1934), 4. 64 Cited by Jacob Haberman, Maimonides and Aquinas: A Contemporary Appraisal (New York, 1979), 144- 65 Catalogue of the Printed Books and of the Semitic and Jewish MSS. in the Mary Frere Hebrew Library at Girton College , Cambridge (Cambridge, n.d.), I. 66 Catalogue of the Manuscripts in the Hebrew Character : Collected and Bequeathed to Trinity College Library by the late William Aldis Wright (Cambridge, 1926). 157</page><page sequence="20">Nicholas de Lange With this experience behind him he worked, as noted, in the University Library, where he was commissioned to compile a handlist of the Hebrew manuscripts. This project was interrupted by the War but he continued to work on it during the 1920s, while he was coming to Cambridge to teach. It was completed by 1927. There were serious plans to publish it but for some reason these never came to fruition. The Handlist is kept in the Library and has a substantial Preface which sketches the history of the collection and describes Loewe's work on it.67 Of the planned series of College catalogues, leaving aside that of the Wright collection, which was a more thoroughgoing manuscript catalogue, only one was published: a Catalogue of the Printed Books and of the Semitic and Jewish MSS . in the Mary Frere Hebrew Library at Girton College . Mary Frere (1845-191 1) had a strong interest in the Bible and built up a considerable library, including quite a number of Samaritan manuscripts that she acquired from the Samaritan High Priest during a stay in Nablus. She was helped in making her selection by that remarkable scholar Paul Kahle (1875-1964), who was Pastor of the German Church in Cairo at the time. On her death in 191 1 her library was given to Girton College. It is curious that it includes the set of five prayer books of the Spanish and Portuguese liturgy that had belonged to Schiller-Szinessy, who had a preference for the Sephardi form of worship.68 Loewe's publications range widely over Hebrew literature, Jewish thought and Jewish-Christian relations. Of particular interest in the last of these areas is his involvement with the three volumes of essays published under the general titl z Judaism and Christianity in 1937-38. To the first volume, The age of transition , he contributed a very substantial essay about, and in defence of, Pharisaism. The second volume, entitled The contact of Pharisaism with other cultures , was edited by Loewe. The introductory essay, "The ideas of Pharisaism", is by Loewe himself: his subject is not Pharisaism as narrowly defined, but rabbinic Judaism in general. Of all the many books in which he had a hand, the best-known and most enduring is without a doubts Rabbinic Anthology , a selection of extracts from the rabbinic literature that he compiled with Claude Montefiore. Although more than 70 years old, this remains the most comprehensive and useful com- pilation of its kind. The extracts are arranged by topic and are accompanied by discussions which are made all the more interesting, and balanced, by the contrasting religious standpoints of the two editors. Montefiore was a con- vinced Liberal Jew, while Loewe's position was one of staunch Orthodoxy. 67 Or. 1770-72. "James Pearson of the University Library's oriental department worked on the handlist in 1938 and then, jointly with Herbert's son, Raphael . . . , completed a typewritten version, with some minor revisions, in 1956", Reif, Hebrew Manuscripts , 34. 68 Raphael Loewe, "Schiller-Szinessy", n. 1 16, says he had such a set in his possession. 158</page><page sequence="21">Books and bookmen: the Cambridge teachers of Rabbinics 1866-1971 At times, particularly when they touch on central issues, such as observance of the law, which divide the two movements, the reader feels as though he is eavesdropping on the conversation of two refined and learned disputants, divided by their theology but united by friendship and by a joint commitment to the task of presenting the teachings of rabbinic Judaism to English-speak- ing readers.69 Although he held the Readership for only a few years, Herbert Loewe's contribution to Hebrew and Jewish studies in Cambridge actually extended over a longer period than could be claimed by any of the other holders of the post - in fact over 30 years, as bibliographer, researcher and, particularly after Abrahams's death, teacher. He left behind the memory of a man of great reli- gious and intellectual integrity, a man of firmly held views who was yet tol- erant of those with whom he disagreed, and in fact with a positive attitude towards Jewish pluralism. In an essay about his predecessor Israel Abrahams he wrote with appreciation of his tolerance and openness, and hostility to bigotry, faddism and schism. His son Michael has told me that his father "deeply appreciated, in all humility and at the same time pride, that as an orthodox Jew he was entrusted to teach Hebrew to ordinands for the Church of England and to those preparing to enter the ministry". The American author of a book on Maimonides and Aquinas, Jacob Haberman, devotes an epilogue to a warm and reasoned appreciation of Loewe. He writes: "I was born in the wrong place, and too late, to have had the privilege of having known Mr. Loewe personally, but I nevertheless count him as a formative influence in my life."70 He also describes him as "a master builder of bridges of understanding" and "a man of peace and good will". V Jacob Leib Teicher was born in 1904 in Rudki, a shtetl some thirty miles south-west of Lemberg (Lviv) in Eastern Galicia. When Galicia was allocated to Austria in the partitions of the late eighteenth century, its substantial Jewish population was opened up to political emancipation and new ideas, particularly through the educational reforms of Emperor Josef II. After being fought over and changing hands several times in the First World War, Eastern Galicia became part of Poland. Polish annexation was internationally recognized in 1923, the year that Teicher completed his schooling at the gym- nasium in Lwow. Before entering the gymnasium he had combined atten- dance at a state elementary school with a traditional Eastern European Jewish education in the cheder , continued later by private tutors in Talmud and 69 C. J. G. Montefiore and H. Loewe, A Rabbinic Anthology (London, 1938); reprinted in 1974 with a Prolegomenon by Raphael Loewe. 70 Haberman, Maimonides and Aquinas, 145. 159</page><page sequence="22">Nicholas de Lange cognate subjects. His daughter Anna, in reply to a question from me, wrote that: The wider education Jozef [Jacob's father] offered his children reflected his own journey from his Hassidic background to a progressive Judaism that was typical of the Jewish cultural elite of Eastern Galicia who sought to combine a measured degree of assimilation to Polish culture with an enthusiasm for the Jewish national revival. Polish was spoken in the family; the children were all sent to state schools and into further education. At the same time Jozef s inter- est in Zionism stressed the importance of Hebrew, and from the time JLT was seven years old, a resident private tutor was employed in the home for the spoken language. JLT always considered his family and their wider circle of relations - lawyers, doctors and businessmen of the emerging Jewish middle class - as the true teachers of his childhood and adolescence. He was much more diffident in his attitude to the formal schooling he received, setting the scene, perhaps, for his enduring mistrust of received opinion and correspon- ding belief in his own independent judgement. At the No. 7 gymnasium, which had a substantial Jewish enrolment, Teicher studied essentially the curriculum of the Austrian classical gymna- sium and his teachers included some distinguished figures. In the face of growing expressions of antisemitism and agitation for limits on numbers of Jewish students, he took advantage of legislation by the newly formed fascist government in Italy, abolishing university fees for foreign students coming to study at Italian universities. From 1923 to 1928 he studied at the University of Florence, gaining the Laurea in Philosophy and Oriental Languages (Arabic and Hebrew), with a thesis on the philosophy of the four- teenth/ fifteenth-century rationalist Hasdai Cresças. The following year he began the Perfezionamento in Psychology and he subsequently studied at the Scuola dei Bibliotecari e Archivisti Paleografi. Concurrently he studied from 1923 to 1929 at the Collegio Rabbinico Italiano. Originally founded in Padua in 1829, the college had had its ups and downs before being reopened in Florence in 1899. Teicher took the final examination but decided not to put himself forward for rabbinic ordination ( semikhah ). His main teachers in Jewish Studies were Umberto Cassuto and Elia Samuele Artom, both of whom taught both at the University and at the Collegio Rabbinico Italiano. Cassuto (1883-1951) was Chief Rabbi of Florence until 1925, when he relinquished the office on taking up a chair of Hebrew language and literature in the University. Artom (1887-1965) was Cassuto's brother-in-law and worked closely with him. They both emigrated to Palestine in 1939, when the racial laws made it impossible for them to con- tinue in Italy. Cassuto's fame as a biblical commentator (which he should properly share with his brother-in-law) may unjustly obscure his achieve- 160</page><page sequence="23">Books and bookmen: the Cambridge teachers of Rabbinics 1866-1971 ments as a fine student of Hebrew manuscripts: he published several cata- logues and studies of Hebrew manuscripts in Italian libraries, including parts of the Vatican collection. Teicher came to England in September 1938 for what had been planned as a short study trip. The promulgation of the racial laws in Italy expelling foreign Jews from the country made it impossible for him to return, as intended, to Florence. He spent the initial months in London, before moving to Oxford at the beginning of 1939. Teicher spent the next four and a half years there, essentially supported by research grants from various Oxford col- leges, arranged initially in conjunction with the Society for the Protection of Science and Learning. In mid- 1943 he left Oxford to work in London until mid- 1 946 as secretary to Ignacy Schwarzbart, the Zionist representative on the National Council of the Polish Government-in-exile. Teicher was appointed to the Rabbinics lectureship in Cambridge in the autumn of 1946. While as a refugee he felt a sense of gratitude to Britain, as a continental intellectual he also felt out of place in what he saw as the parochial atmosphere of post-war Cambridge. Anna Teicher has suggested to me that his tenure of the Rabbinics position was overshadowed by his deep sense of disappointment at the failure of the Faculty to capitalize on the rec- ommendations of the 1947 Scarbrough Report to expand the teaching of Jewish Studies (as in his proposals, supported by W. A. L. Elmslie, presented to the Faculty Board in late 1947) to include Jewish literature and philoso- phy, history and institutions to the end of the eighteenth century, as well as provision for Modern Hebrew. He retired in 1971 and died in Cambridge on 17 November 1981. Jacob Teicher was a scholar with wide-ranging interests. His first and enduring passion was the history of philosophy, particularly medieval Jewish philosophy and its engagement with wider philosophical currents. By the time he arrived in Cambridge in 1946 he had published fifteen articles on Maimonides, Averroes and other thinkers. In 1948 he was invited to become the first editor of th z Journal of Jewish Studies. He edited xht Journal for some seven years and contributed articles to every issue. This was the period when the newly discovered Dead Sea Scrolls were beginning to attract intense interest and Teicher was among the first scholars to devote himself to their study. Widely differing views were held at that time about the origin and nature of the Scrolls and Teicher soon formed the view that they were witnesses to the earliest Christianity. Many of his contributions to th z Journal of Jewish Studies were on this subject but he also wrote about other subjects, including Genizah manuscripts and early printed fragments (the latter a sadly neglected area of study). He was a scholar of dazzling originality, who enjoyed challenging accepted ideas. Among his articles one finds such titles as "Maimonides' treatise on 161</page><page sequence="24">Nicholas de Lange resurrection - a 13th century forgery", "Was Spinoza banned?", "Are the Bar-Kochba letters genuine?", which give some indication of the question- ing character of his mind. As I remember him, he was a man who enjoyed a good argument. It happens that some of his views, notably those on the Dead Sea Scrolls and Maimonides's treatise on resurrection, have not stood the test of time, but these can be seen as the casualties of a proudly independent and original mind, healthily suspicious of received opinion. Concluding remarks The post in Rabbinics at Cambridge is, I have suggested, a unique position. It originated not, as tended to happen with such posts elsewhere, with some kind of programme on the part of Jewish scholars or philanthropists, but pri- marily from an appreciation among Christian theologians of the necessity for a knowledge of Rabbinics. Of course, the Wissenschaft des Judentums move- ment fed into the teaching and writing of its holders: they had benefited from it, were in contact with it and it coloured their work, both in terms of their interest in primary research on manuscripts and in the methods they employed. In broader terms the movements for political emancipation and social integration of the Jews, and for religious reforms, with which the Wissenschaft school in Europe was deeply involved, were part of the story of their lives. They were in contact with the exponents of Wissenschaft , as disci- ples and correspondents. Ultimately, however, they seem to me to have con- ducted their working lives more or less independently of it. (If there is an exception it is Solomon Schechter.) It is difficult and perhaps pointless to draw generalizations about five men who were so different from each other. For example in the matter of their religious allegiances and inclinations they were far from uniform: Schiller had ministered to a Reform congregation before coming to Cambridge, Schechter went on to be a figurehead and in some sense an architect of the Conservative movement in America, Abrahams was a founder of the Liberal movement in Britain, Loewe was a strong defender of Orthodoxy and Teicher was not associated with any particular denomination. Yet they all, even if their roots were ultimately in a traditional type of Judaism, belong firmly in the mod- ernist, not the traditionalist, camp. They all, in their different ways, gave a great deal to Cambridge and to the wider community. Locally their contribution was made mainly through their teaching and, as I have tried to show, also through their commitment to the manuscript collections of the University Library. As for their writings, who can measure the impact of books like Israel Abrahams's Jewish Life in the Middle Ages or Montefiore and Loewe's Rabbinic Anthology} Yet they also 162</page><page sequence="25">Books and bookmen: the Cambridge teachers of Rabbinics 1866-1971 published critical editions, monographs and innumerable articles in learned journals, encyclopedias and newspapers and magazines. Th z Jewish Quarterly Review under Abrahams's editorship and the Journal of Jewish Studies under Teicher's played a highly important role in the dissemination of scholarly research and reflection of the highest order. They also received a good deal from Cambridge, and I think that the most striking thing was the way that, at least for most of them, the engagement with Christian theology had a marked impact on their interests and their outlook, and distinguishes them to some extent from exponents of Hebrew and Jewish studies elsewhere. I myself succeeded Teicher in the post in 197 1 and retired from it in 201 1 . It is a cause of deep sadness to me that, for the usual financial reasons, the University has decided not to appoint a successor to me. Rabbinics is still a half-ploughed field, and the task of transmitting knowledge to new genera- tions is never-ending. It is my dearest hope that some benefactor may yet be found, sharing the vision and dedication of such men as Charles Taylor, Claude Montefiore, Redcliffe Salaman and Julius Rosenwald, to revive this unique Cambridge tradition. 163</page></plain_text>

bottom of page