Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Joseph Breuer (1882-1980) was a rabbi community leader in Germany and the United States. He led the German-Jewish community in Washington Heights, New York. He had obtained a Phd and was also known as Rabbi Dr. Breuer.
Joseph Breuer was born in 1882 in Papa, Hungary to the local Rabbi Solomon Breuer . His mother was Sophie Breuer née Hirsch, daughter of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch of Frankfurt am Main, Germany. When the latter died in 1888, he was succeeded by his son-in-law, and Joseph was to live in Frankfurt until the 1930s.
He attended the local yeshiva founded by his father (the Torah Lehranstalt), and became teacher and later head at that institution. He married Rika Eisenmann of Antwerp. In the 1930s, he briefly moved the yeshiva to Fiume, Italy, but this arrangement only lasted a brief period of time. After his return to Frankfurt, he was arrested by the Gestapo, and plans were made to leave Germany. A former pupil procured an affidavit, and the family relocated to New York.
In New York, Breuer took the initiative to start a congregation with the numerous German refugees in Washington Heights, which would closely follow the morale and customs of its "spiritual ancestor" in Frankfurt. The congregation came to be called Khal Adath Yeshurun ("KAJ"), but is colloquially called "Breuer's" after its founder. In addition, he founded a boys' yeshiva (Yeshivas Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch) named after his illustrious grandfather, and a teachers' seminary for girls that would be renamed the Rika Breuer Teachers' Seminary after his wife's death. All institutions closely followed the teachings and ideology of Rabbi Breuer's grandfather, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch.
Towards the end of his life, the name Levi was added to his own name as a blessing to recover from an ilness. He died in 1980, survived by his children Marc, Jacob, Samson, Rosy Bondi, Edith Silverman, Sophia Gutmann, Hanna Schwalbe and Meta Bechoffer.
Views and philosophy
Breuer was very well known for his involvement in setting up an Orthodox Jewish infrastucture in post-World War II America. He wrote several books, including translations and commentaries on the Biblical books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel.
Breuer can be considered the main post-war representative of the Torah im Derech Eretz movement in the United States. Apart from the abovementioned books, he limited his written work to contributions to the community organ (Mittleilungen). His influence was mainly due to his public speeches and his indefatigable work on the community's services. A number of important ideas, still, can be distinguished:
- Independent Orthodoxy: Rabbi Breuer drew on his grandfather's work of Austritt - the principle that Jewish communities can only truly claim to be Jewish if they are ideologically and otherwise independent from any other organisations. In America, where the community organisation was not enforced by local law, this became an even stronger issue than in Europe. This stance also led of his limited involvement with Agudath Israel of America.
- Torah im Derech Eretz: Rabbi Breuer saw the risk of misinterpretation of his grandfather's ideas on how Judaism could be harmonised with the general culture of the outside world. He repeatedly stated that compromising on Jewishness and halakha was in variance with Torah im Derech Eretz. With the rise of the yeshiva movement, he also remarked that Torah im Derech Eretz was by no means a temporary measure (as was often claimed by protagonists of the "Torah only" view).
- Kosher we-Yosher: Although one of the phenomena of post-World War II Orthodoxy has become the (re)introduction of stringencies in halakha (Jewish law), Rabbi Breuer held that these should not be limited to the ceremonial sphere but also to the many financial and social laws of Judaism. He would, for example, refuse a hechsher (certification of kosher products) to companies with a bad financial records.
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details