Kohler, Kaufmann

Kohler, Kaufmann

(kouf`mən kō`lər), 1843–1926, American rabbi, scholar, and leader in Reform Judaism, b. Bavaria. He emigrated to the United States in 1869 and served with congregations in Detroit and Chicago before becoming (1879) rabbi of Temple Beth-El in New York City. From 1903 to 1921 he was president of the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati. He called the conference (1885) at which the Pittsburgh Platform of Reformed Judaism was adopted. One of the editors of The Jewish Encyclopedia, he also wrote Backwards or Forwards: Lectures on Reform Judaism (1885), Jewish Theology Systematically and Historically Considered (1918), Heaven and Hell in Comparative Religion (1923), and the Origins of the Synagogue and the Church (1929). His Studies, Addresses, and Personal Papers (1931) contains a short autobiography.

Bibliography

See R. J. Marx, Kaufmann Kohler as Reformer (1951).

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Kohler, Kaufmann

(1843–1926) rabbi, scholar; born in Fürth, Germany. During his studies in Munich and Berlin, he moved away from orthodox Judaism. In 1869 he came to the U.S.A. as rabbi of the Beth-El Congregation in Detroit. In 1871 he went to Sinai Temple in Chicago, where, despite fierce criticism, he brought about a number of radical reforms. In 1879 he became rabbi of Temple Beth-El in New York City, where he made similar changes. A series of lectures brought him into conflict with traditionalist scholar Alexander Kohut. On behalf of tradition, Kohut and his followers founded the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 1887, while Kohler called the Pittsburgh Conference. The Pittsburgh Platform, issued in 1885, eventually became the central document of American Reform Judaism. Kohler became president of Hebrew Union College at Cincinnati (1903–21), where he also taught a number of courses. He was a prolific scholar; his single best-known work is his 1910 book, Jewish Theology Systematically and Historically Considered.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.