Reform Judaism In the 19th Century
The most extreme precursor to the Reform movement was a man bythe name of Samuel Holdheim. He was born in 1806 in Kempo in theprovince of Posen. At a young age he studied at a yeshiva and receiveda Talmudic education. He began to study German and secular subjectsafter his marriage to a woman with a modern education. After theirdivorce several years later, he began studying at the University ofPrague and Berlin and received a doctorate from the University ofLeipzig. Following service in Frankfurt -Am-Oder he became aLandesrabbiner or chief Rabbi of Mecklenberg-Schewerin. In the year1847 he became the rabbinate of a reform congregation in Berlin . Atthis point he already disapproved of most liberal Rabbis and came tobe known as the most exemplar of reform Rabbis in all of Europe ( 241)
The question comes to mind as to what exactly triggered thisdifferent belief in Judaism which differed significantly from previoustenents. It started during the time of the French revolution, a timewhen European Jews were (for the first time) recognized as citizens ofthe countries in which they lived in. Ghettos were being abolished,special badges were no longer required and Jews could dress the waythey wanted, settle were they pleased and work the occupations theydesired.
Many Jews settled outside of Jewish districts, and began tolive like their neighbors and speak the language of the land. Theywent to public schools and began to neglect Jewish Studies and forgetabout he Shulchan Aruch.
In 1815, after Napoleon’s defeat, Jews lost the rights ofcitizenship in many countries. Many Jews converted to Christianity inorder to retain those rights. Many thoughtful Jews were concernedabout this. They realized that many of these changes took place notbecause of a dislike for Judaism, but in order to obtain bettertreatment. Many rabbis believed that the way to address this was toforce Jews to give up public schools and universities. This didn’twork.
Rabbis suggested that observance might have to be changed inorder to appeal to the Jew living the modern world. They realized thatevery now and then old practices and new ones were introduced,