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Bernhard Felsenthal papers

 Collection
Identifier: P-21

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains correspondence in English, German, Hebrew and French between Felsenthal and various key players in Reform Jewish and Zionist organizations. Correspondence topics include: the founding of the American Jewish Historical Society: the Jewish Publication Society; B'nai B'rith; the legal position of Jews in England and the United States with particular reference to the Naturalization Acts; the religious and social life and the history of Jews in Russia and Poland; Bible readings in public schools; the study of Jesus in Jewish Sabbath Schools; anti-slavery issues in the Fremont Campaign in 1856; and other correspondence pertaining to his numerous activities.

The major correspondents, in number of items, are Cyrus Adler, Felix Adler, Julius Bien, Isidor Bush, Gotthard Deutsch, David Einhorn, Abraham Geiger, Henry Gersoni, Gustav Gottheil, Richard James Horatio Gottheil, Kaufmann Kohler, George Alexander Kohut, Maurice Mayer, Moses Mielziner, Joshua Heschel Schorr, David Stern, Benjamin Szold, Henrietta Szold, and Julius Rosenthal. Included in the collection are letters to his daughters, Emma and Julia Felsenthal.

A typed index of correspondents is included with collection.

Dates

  • undated, 1844-1922

Creator

Language of Materials

The collection is in English, Hebrew, German, and French.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to all researchers, except items that may be restricted due to their fragility, or privacy.

Use Restrictions

No permission is required to quote, reproduce or otherwise publish manuscript materials found in this collection, as long as the usage is scholarly, educational, and non-commercial. For inquiries about other usage, please contact the Director of Collections and Engagement at mmeyers@ajhs.org.

For reference questions, please email: inquiries@cjh.org

Biographical Note

Felsenthal was a German-American rabbi and author born January 2, 1822 in Münchweiler, Germany. His education included the Polytechnic High School in Munich and the Teachers' Seminary at Kaiserslautern. He emigrated to America in 1854 and settled in Madison, Indiana, where he remained for three years as rabbi and teacher. In 1858 he accepted employment in the banking-house of Greenebaum Brothers in Chicago. In the same year the Jüdische Reformverein was founded, with Felsenthal as its secretary. In 1859 he published a pamphlet entitled "Kol Kore Bamidbar: Ueber Jüdische Reform," which attracted attention both in America and abroad.

The Reformverein evolved into the Sinai Congregation, and in June 1861, Felsenthal became its first rabbi. After officiating for three years, he took charge of Zion Congregation in West Chicago. Felsenthal served until 1887, when he was relieved from active duty and pensioned as rabbi emeritus. He has holds degrees from both Chicago University and Hebrew Union College.

Extent

1 Linear Feet (2 manuscript boxes + 1 oversized folder)

Abstract

This Collection consists primarily of English, German, Hebrew, and French language correspondence concerning Reform Judaism, Zionism; the founding of the American Jewish Historical Society; the Jewish Publication Society; B'nai B'rith; the legal position of Jews in England and the United States with particular reference to the Naturalization Acts; the religious and social life and the history of Jews in Russia and Poland; Bible readings in public schools; the study of Jesus in Jewish Sabbath Schools; anti-slavery issues in the Fremont Campaign in 1856; and other correspondence pertaining to his numerous activities.

Arrangement

This collection is intellectually organized into two series.

Physical Location

Located in AJHS New York, NY

Acquisition Note

Gift of Bernhard Felsenthal's daughters: Emma Felsenthal, 1933-35, and Julia Felsenthal, 1949

Related Material

The Leo Baeck Institute holds a few Felsenthal items, including a typed manuscript recounting the history of the Felsenthal family until 1939: "The Felsenthal Family" Manuscripts; photocopied notes on Felsenthal's travels in the United States: Bernhard Felsenthal Collection, 1854-1857.
Title
Guide to the Bernhard Felsenthal papers, undated, 1844-1922 P-21
Status
Completed
Author
Finding aid created by marc2ead_ajhs.xsl
Date
© 2009
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Description is in English.

Revision Statements

  • 2016-09-22: PDF box list converted to dsc. Finding aid encoding revised by Janine Veazue.
  • 2016-09-22: Box 2 folder titles changed from "Miscellaneous correspondence" to "Correspondence" by Tanya Elder.
  • 2017-12-05: dao links added by Leanora Lange.
  • March, June 2020: EHyman: post-ASpace migration cleanup

Repository Details

Part of the American Jewish Historical Society Repository

Contact:
15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States