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Bidding Information
Lot #    12885
Auction End Date    12/20/2005 2:27:30 PM (mm/dd/yyyy)
Title Information
Title (English)    Dat Yisrael: oder Das Judenthum
Title (Hebrew)    דת ישראל
Author    [First Ed.] Peter Beer
City    Prague
Publisher    Karl Barth
Publication Date    1809
Collection Information
Independent Item    This listing is an independent item not part of any collection
Description Information
   First edition. lviii, [6], 198 pp., 166: 102 mm., wide margins, light age and damp staining, stamps. A very good copy bound in contemporary half leather and marbled paper boards, rubbed.
   The subtitle reads: Dat Yisra'el oder, Das Judenthum ; das ist: Versuch einer Darstellung aller wesentlichen Glaubens- Sitten- und Ceremoniallehren heutiger Juden : zum Gebrauche bei dem Elementarreligionsunterrichte ihrer Jugend nebst einem Anhange für Lehrer.

This is a volume on the Jewish religious education of children by Peter Beer (Perez; pen name: Theophil Nikodem; 1758 (or 1764)–1838) an Austrian educator and author, representative of radical Haskalah in the Hapsburg Empire. Beer, who had a traditional Jewish education, also learned Latin and German. He attended the Prague and Pressburg yeshivot, and from 1780 studied pedagogy at Vienna University, being one of the first Jews to train as a teacher within the educational reform program introduced by Emperor Joseph II. From 1784 he taught at Mattersdorf, and from 1811 until his death at the new Prague "Normalschule." Beer was also appointed "teacher of morals" to the Jewish pupils at Prague high schools in 1813, being probably the first Jew appointed to hold a government appointment and entitled to wear a government employee's uniform.

In 1796 Beer published his Toledot Yisrael, a history of the Jews, omitting chapters likely to be unpalatable to enlightened circles, such as the slaying of the prophets of Baal by Elijah, as well as the entire talmudic period. It became the blueprint of biblical history textbooks used by teachers of the Enlightenment school in Europe for many years. In 1809 Beer published Dat Yisrael and in 1810 Emet ve-Emunah, religious manuals in German. His two-volume Geschichte, Lehren und Meinungen aller religioesen Sekten der Juden und der Geheimlehre oder Kabbala (1822–23) is interesting for the material on the Frankists and Hasidism. In them, he developed an ideology of "Mosaism," which, parallel to "Christianity" that embraces Catholicism, Protestantism, etc., covers all different Jewish sects. Beer wrote several appeals to the authorities on matters of public interest, including the question of military service and the establishment of a rabbinical seminary in Prague. He contributed to the periodicals Sulamith, Ha-Me'assef, and Bikkurei ha-Ittim, and published a prayer book for "educated women" (1815). He was instrumental in opening the Reform synagogue in Prague and in inviting Leopold Zunz to serve as preacher. He published a commentary on Genesis intended for readers of all creeds, drawing heavily on contemporary Protestant commentators. Only one installment of his translation of Maimonides' Guide was published (1834). It was sharply criticized by Joseph Derenbourg. Beer was highly esteemed by the Austrian authorities and was awarded a decoration. However, his educational activities were viewed with suspicion by the majority of Jews. His autobiography, edited by Moritz Hermann, was published in 1839.

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Listing Classification
19th Century:    Checked
Other:    Bohemia
First Editions:    Checked
Language:    German
Manuscript Type
Kind of Judaica