Resources on Faith, Ethics and Public Life

Samson Raphael Hirsch

This individual is not a direct affiliate of the Berkley Center.

Samson Raphael Hirsch is considered the founder of the contemporary school of Orthodox Judaism. Born in Hamburg, Germany, Hirsch received his early education at home and was greatly influenced by the ideas of Friedrich Schiller and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. As a young adult, Hirsch entered rabbinate training. He wanted to demonstrate the compatibility of traditional Judaism with modern Western culture. He completed his education at the University of Bonn, and in 1830 Hirsch became the rabbi of Oldenberg. In 1836, under the pseudonym “Ben Uziel,” he published The Nineteen Letters of Ben Uziel, through which he defended traditional Judaism. In 1838, he published Choreb, a rational explanation of the 613 mitzvoth (commandments). In 1846, Hirsch became the rabbi of Moravia and in 1851 was promoted to the position of rabbi of Frankfurt. As rabbi, he founded many Jewish schools and mikvot (ritual baths) in Germany to encourage Jewish practice.
back to top