||Ansprache an meine Gemeinde (An address to my community) by Abraham Geiger, the leading advocate of Reform Judaism in Germany. The volume begins with introductory remarks, Meine lieben Brüder (My dear brothers), and is divided into two parts, I Sachverältuiss (the facts of the situation, pp. 2-15), and II Die religiose Verschiedenheit (the religious difference, pp. 15-27). The text is an exposition of Geiger’s religious views. Ansprache an meine Gemeinde is set in a single column in Fraktur; the title page has three owners’ stamps.
Abraham Geiger (1810–1874) was the foremost exponent of the Reform movement in Germany. He was the son of an old-established family in Frankfort, one of the leaders of the Reform movement in Judaism, and an outstanding scholar of Wissenschaft des Judentums. Geiger received a traditional education. His principal teacher was his elder brother, Solomon Geiger. He was also influenced by the teachings of R. B. W. Heidenheim. Subsequently, he began to study oriental languages and Greek, from 1829 in Heidelberg and then in Bonn. In Bonn Geiger became acquainted with his future Orthodox adversary Rabbi S. R. Hirsch, whom he greatly admired at the time, setting up in conjunction with him and several other young men a circle for developing the art of preaching. In 1832, Geiger became rabbi in Wiesbaden, where he took his first steps to introduce reform of the synagogue services, and began publication of the Wissenschaftliche Zeitschrift fuer juedische Theologie (6 vols. in 5, 1835–47), to which the most important Jewish scholars of his day contributed. In 1837 he convened the first meeting of Reform rabbis in Wiesbaden. In 1838, Geiger was chosen as dayyan and assistant rabbi by the Breslau community, but, owing to the strong opposition of its rabbi, R. Tiktin, Geiger was not able to take up his position until 1840. After Tiktin’s death in 1843, Geiger was accorded the rabbinate by the majority of the community, thus causing the Orthodox minority to secede. In Breslau Geiger established a school for religious studies and a group for study of Hebrew philology. Geiger was one of the most active participants in the Synods held by the Reform rabbis in Frankfort (1845) and Breslau (1846). He was among the initiators of the Juedisch-Theologisches Seminar in Breslau in 1854, but contrary to his wishes was not appointed its principal because of opposition from the conservatives. From 1863 Geiger served as rabbi of the Reform congregation in his hometown Frankfort, and from the beginning of 1870 was rabbi of the Berlin congregation; in 1872, the Hochschule fuer die Wissenschaft des Judentums was established in Berlin with his assistance and Geiger directed it until his death.
During his lifetime Geiger combined the work of a militant reforming theologian and a philologist-historian. He was active in all affairs of German Jewry of his time, while his scientific research ranged over almost every sphere of Judaism. Geiger valued prophecy in Judaism, and wished to maintain the feeling of Jewish continuity, but he was radically opposed to Orthodoxy which he regarded as ossified by nomism and lacking aesthetic forms to satisfy the cultured man. He aspired to lead Jewry to a form of assimilation which would both further fulfillment of the Jewish "mission" to spread rational faith in the One God and His moral law, and lead to a modification of the Jewish way of life and thinking. He was, therefore, interested, although he did not express this publicly, in abolishing every institution of Judaism in its existing form and constructing a new edifice upon its ruins. In order to attain this objective, Geiger concentrated his wide research on the history of the religion. The historiographical picture resulting from his work served the requirements of religious reform and civic emancipation.
In his desire to see Judaism solely as a religious community Geiger set out to eliminate from Judaism every mark of national uniqueness and of dissociation from the gentile nations. In 1845 he opposed prayer in Hebrew, which he further justified by the ignorance of the language among most worshipers. In the course of time his approach to religious reform became more moderate; while he omitted all reference to the Return to Zion from the prayer book which he brought out in 1854 for his community in Breslau, he retained Hebrew corresponding in its essentials with the original version alongside several prayers in German; but Geiger changed the German translation accompanying the prayers, in accordance with Reform spirit. In his last years his moderation became even greater; and in Berlin he reinstated celebration of the second day of the festivals, which he had abolished in Breslau. This change of outlook was actuated by two reasons: his wish to avoid a sudden split in Judaism, and his antagonism to Christianity. On these grounds, he did not agree to changing the Sabbath to Sunday, even though he permitted instrumental music on the Sabbath in synagogue and permitted several prohibited kinds of work on the Sabbath. These arguments also underlay Geiger's opposition to the abolition of circumcision, although he regarded it as "a barbaric act of bloodletting." Geiger's prayer book was the product of social and religious aims in conjunction with aesthetic considerations. He considerably shortened the order of prayer to enable worshipers to pray with devotion. He established prayers for rain in summer also, to suit conditions in Germany, and omitted portions from various prayers that he regarded as empty verbiage.
In his doctoral dissertation Was hat Mohammed aus dem Judenthume aufgenommen (1833), Geiger demonstrated the influence of Jewish tradition upon the Koran. A prolific writer, Geiger's principal work was Urschrift und Uebersetzungen der Bibel... (1857; 19282), in which he correlates the history of the biblical translations with the history of the sects in Israel (particularly the Pharisees and Sadducees). Geiger summarized his historical view of Judaism in general in a series of popular lectures that he delivered in Frankfort, Das Judenthum und seine Geschichte (3 vols., 1865–71; Judaism and its History, 1865, 1911). Also important are Geiger's Lehr-und Lesebuch zur Sprache der Mischnah (1845); and Parschandatha; die nordfranzoesische Exegetenschule (1855).