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By Eli Ginzberg

First released in 1966, Louis Ginzberg: Keeper of the legislations is an strange biography.

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Louis Ginzberg: Keeper of the Law

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Extra resources for Louis Ginzberg: Keeper of the Law

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However, they can be pieced together both from what he said and left unsaid. Basically, he had a highly critical view of Frankfurt Jewry. Neither Samson Raphael Hirsch, the founder of the ultra-Orthodox community, nor his successor Rabbi Breuer, contributed significantly to the development of Jewish thought. My father appreciated that Hirsch was a man of deep conviction and that he was able to help stem the rapid advances of the Reform Movement, but the rigid formalism which became the hallmark of the ultra-Orthodox left him bemused and critical.

Moscow looked into the matter of the police commissioner (of Klin), and we had to move back to the western part of Russia. “It was possible to live under these conditions and main­ tain our self-respect because of our deeply religious feeling. A good Jew had enormous pride and he pitied a good goy. ’ Culturally and morally the Jews were really much su­ perior. ” In Klin, young Louis started his formal education and continued his pranks. Although there were only a small number of Jewish families in Klin—an earlier estimate made by my father was 60 or 70, rather than 200—there were two ritual slaughterers who doubled as teachers.

It took a considerable time for the rabbi to decide that he should take some action; then he had to wake his wife, and she in turn had to wake the maid, who then had to get dressed. No rabbi could awaken the maid! The former classmates found much pleasure in their re­ union, and they were soon engrossed in a heated discussion about the passage in Maimonides that the rabbi had been studying when his unexpected visitors arrived. Young Louis helped himself to the bread, jam and tea that the lady of the house provided, but his father was too involved in the argu­ ment to take time off to eat.

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