Mannheimer, Isaak Noa

Mannheimer, Isaak Noa, one of the most celebrated of modern Jewish pulpit orators and theologians, was born at Copenhagen, Denmark, Oct. 17,1793. His father was the reader of the synagogue of the Danish capital, and, anxious to afford his Isaak all the advantages of modern culture, placed the child in a school at the tender age of three years and a half. When only nine years old, Isaak was introduced to the study of the Talmud, and at the age of responsibility (thirteen) was noted for his great erudition in Jewish tradition. In his secular studies, also, he made rapid progress, and promised much for the future. In 1808 he entered the gymnasium, and by 1814 he was ready to pass his examination for admission to the university. Here he devoted himself to the study of philosophy, philology, and the Oriental languages. Scarcely had his course been completed when the government offered him employment as catechist of the Jewish society of his native place; he accepted the proffered position, and served his people to their great satisfaction. About this time the reformatory movements among the Jews of Northern Europe were taking place, and Mannheimer became one of the leaders in the progressive step. He was especially encouraged by a personal acquaintance with the German-Jewish reformer Jacobson, whom he met in Berlin, .whither he was called in 1821, as pastor of the Temple. But, by the interference of the government, the reform movement was greatly barred there, and, after a vain struggle with the orthodox, he accepted a call from Vienna in 1824, and removed to the Austrian capital in June, 1825. Austria, which was always slow to grant religious liberty to non-Roman-Catholics, had not up to this time recognized the Jews as a religious sect, and, without authority to act as pastor, Mannheimer was called to perform substantially similar duties in the official capacity of "principal of the Religious School" ("Direktor der Wiener Kaiserlich Konigl. offentlichen israelitischen Religionsschule"). Though personally decidedly in favor of the reform movement inaugurated by Jacobson and others, he felt it his duty, in this new relation, to assume a conservative position, and by his moderation and wisdom succeeded in building up one of the best Jewish congregations in Germany. His great oratorical talent did much to swell the number of his auditors, but his success as a leader of the Jews of the Austrian capital is due solely to his determination "to produce no rupture in the Jewish camp." He served his people faithfully to the end of his terrestrial course, March 17,1865. His influence on the Jews of Germany, however, still remains, and will be felt for years to come. During the stormy days of 1848 he represented his people in the nation's councils, as a deputy from Lemberg (Gallicia). His humane principles are manifest in his exertions for the abolishment of capital punishment. "Isaak Noa Mannheimer," says Grtitz (Gesch. d. Juden, 11:433), "might be called the embodied nobility of the Jews. He was a perfect man.... The inner and outer man, disposition and wit, inspiration and wisdom, ideal life and practical safety, poetical talent and sober sense, childlike goodness and hitting sarcasm, gushing oratory and earnest activity, love for Judaism and a special liking for reform, were in his being most harmoniously blended." As a pulpit orator he had no peer among his Hebrew brethren. Unfortunately, however, but few of his sermons were ever printed. For a list of them see Kayserling. Bibliothek jud. Kanzelredner, Jahrgang i (Berl. 1870), p. 291. His other works consist of a translation of the Jewish Prayer-book for Sabbath and holy-days (Sidur and Machzor), a few polemical tracts, and a translation of part of the Bible for Salomon's German version. For the study of homiletics his sermons are valued by both Christian and Jewish divines. See, besides Grätz and Kayserling, Ehrentheil Jüd. Charakterbilder (Rest. 1867), 1:57-66; Wolf, Isak Noa Maneheinler (Vienna, 1863); the same, Gesch. d. israelit. Culiusgemeinde in Wien (1861); Geiger, Zeitschrift, 3:167 sq. (J. H. W.)

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