Geiger, Abraham

Geiger, Abraham gīˈgər [key], 1810–74, German rabbi, Semitic scholar and Orientalist, theologian, and foremost exponent of the Reform movement in Judaism. When he received his doctorate (1833) from the Univ. of Bonn, he was already a rabbi in Wiesbaden. He sought to remove all nationalistic elements from Judaism (particularly the “Chosen People” doctrine) and to emphasize the Jewish “mission” to spread monotheism and moral law. He shortened the prayerbook, permitted instrumental music in the synagogue, abolished the second days of holidays, and advocated prayer in the vernacular. However, he opposed Sunday worship and refused to serve any congregation that broke with the established Jewish community. In 1870 he became chief rabbi of the Berlin congregations and director of the newly established seminary for the scientific study of Judaism. He was a prolific writer. His great work is Urschrift und übersetzungen der Bibel [text and translations of the Bible] (1857).

See J. L. Blau, Modern Varieties of Judaism (1966).

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