Resources on Faith, Ethics and Public Life

Zachariah Frankel

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

The father of Conservative Judaism, Zachariah Frankel was also a renowned rabbi, theologian, and historian of the Talmudic period. Frankel studied Talmud from a young age and become principal of the Jewish Theological Seminary in Breslau in 1854. Frankel argued that Jewish practice is diverse because the tradition developed in different socio-political contexts in various civilizations. He asserted that further revisions to Jewish ritual and practice were acceptable as long as they remained true to the spirit of Judaism. Frankel was not fond of Reform Judaism, which he argued strayed too far from the tradition; however, he also critiqued the new-Orthodox movement because they adhered too closely to ancient Judaism and ignored the historical-critical method. Frankel favored a middle path between radical reform and neo-Orthodox which incorporated changes into Jewish ritual and practice but still remained true to the spirit of Judaism. As such, he is considered the father of Conservative Judaism.
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