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Zecharias Frankel
Brockhaus and Efron Jewish Encyclopedia e15 334-0.jpg
Religion Judaism
Born (1801-09-30)30 September 1801
Prague, Bohemia
Died 13 February 1875(1875-02-13) (aged 73)
Breslau, Silesia, Kingdom of Prussia, Germany
(now Wrocław, Poland)
Spouse Rachel Maier

Zecharias Frankel, also known as Zacharias Frankel (30 September 1801 – 13 February 1875) was a Bohemian-German rabbi and a historian who studied the historical development of Judaism. He was born in Prague and died in Breslau. He was the founder and, the most eminent member of, the school of historical Judaism, which advocates freedom of research, while upholding the authority of traditional Jewish belief and practice. This school of thought was the intellectual progenitor of Conservative Judaism.

Through his father, he was a descendant of the Vienna exiles of 1670 and of the famous rabbinical Spira family; on his mother's side he descended from the Fischel family, which has given the community of Prague a number of distinguished Talmudists. He received his early Jewish education at the yeshiva of Bezalel Ronsburg (Daniel Rosenbaum). In 1825 he went to Budapest, where he prepared himself for the university, from which he graduated in 1831. In the following year he was appointed district rabbi (Kreisrabbiner) of Litoměřice by the government, being the first rabbi in Bohemia with a modern education. He made Teplice his seat, where the congregation, the largest in the district, had elected him rabbi. He was called to Dresden in 1836 as chief rabbi, and was confirmed in this position by the Saxon government. In 1843 he was invited to become the chief rabbi at Berlin, which position had been vacant since 1800. However, after a long correspondence he declined, chiefly because the Prussian government, in accordance with its fixed policy, refused to officially recognize the office. He remained in Dresden until 1854, when he was called to the presidency of the Breslau seminary, where he remained until his death.


He married Rachel Maier of Teplice. Through her mother, she was the great-granddaughter of Isak Landesmann of Police u Jemnice, who was remembered as a notable victim of eighteenth century anti-Semitism.

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