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Community schism in the 19th century

In the 19th century the Jewish community split into two separately organized institutions.
The Jewish Reform movement rejected the conviction of the Orthodox that the Talmud stated divine law, and that all the regulations in it were binding on all Jews for all time. Rabbi Abraham Geiger, the spiritual father of the Reform movement, concentrated on the ethical principles of justice and equality as the focus of the Jewish religion. He regarded the religious commandments as human regulations which were accordingly changeable. For the Jews to be integrated into society and achieve emancipation, their religious laws had to be brought into line with modern society.
Among the first and most fundamental changes were the introduction of new orders of prayer, the translation of the prayers into German, and the construction of an organ in the synagogue. The traditional Jewish education was also adapted to its German environment, and observation of the sabbath, feast days and the diet laws were all dropped.
When Leopold Stein, a moderate supporter of the Reform Movement, was appointed to the rabbinate in 1844, the resistance of the Orthodox Jews against the innovations of the Movement strengthened. In 1851 the Orthodox community appointed Samson Raphael Hirsch as their rabbi. They founded their own synagogue and a separate school in the Schützenstraße. After a long struggle the Orthodox community was officially recognized in 1876 as a separate Jewish community. However, the majority of Orthodox Jews remained within their original community out of loyalty to tradition, after they had been promised the appointment of an Orthodox rabbi, Markus Horovitz, and the construction of an Orthodox synagogue at the Börneplatz. The result was that by the end of the 19th century there were two separate Jewish communities in Frankfurt, the main community (also known as the Israelite community) and the small separatist group, known as the Israelitische Religionsgesellschaft (Israelite Religious Association, or IRG). The IRG was strictly orthodox and had its own synagogue from 1907 at the Friedberger Anlage, while the Jewish community as a whole embraced both religious liberals (central synagogue, Westend synagogue) and the orthodox movement (Börneplatz synagogue), satisfying its religious needs. On 1 April 1939 the two communities were forcibly merged on the order of the Gestapo under the old name "Jewish community", and ceased to exist as independent institutions.

© Jüd. Museum Frankfurt 1992-2002 /  Sources