Schechter, Solomon

Schechter, Solomon

(shĕkh`tər), 1847–1915, Jewish scholar. Born in Romania, he was educated in Vienna and at the Univ. of Berlin. He went to England in 1882 and in 1890 he was made lecturer in Talmud at Cambridge; he became professor of Hebrew at University College, London, in 1899. In 1887 he published his critical edition of Avot According to Rabbi Nathan. In 1897 he traveled to Cairo and brought back to Cambridge some 100,000 manuscript fragments from the famous Cairo genizaCairo geniza
, archive of ancient Jewish manuscripts found in the synagogue of Fostat-Cairo, Egypt (built 882). In the 1890s western scholars visited the synagogue and removed the materials to the Bodleian Library at the Univ.
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. Among these, Schechter identified the hitherto missing Hebrew version of Ecclesiasticus. In 1902 he became president of the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City, which he developed into a center of learning and a spiritual home of the Conservative movement. He was also the founder of the United Synagogue of America, the association of Conservative congregations. Among his books are Studies in Judaism (1896; 2d series 1908; 3d series 1924) and Some Aspects of Rabbinic Theology (1909).

Bibliography

See biography by N. de M. Bentwick (1938); M. Davis, The Emergence of Conservative Judaism (1963).

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Schechter, Solomon

(?1847–1915) Hebraic scholar, educator; born in Focsani, Romania. Educated in Vienna and Berlin, he went to England in 1882, where in 1890 he was appointed lecturer in the Talmud and rabbinical literature at Cambridge University. He gained wide notice for identifying a Hebrew fragment, brought from Egypt, as a lost portion of Ecclesiasticus (one of the Apocrypha of the Bible); he went off to Cairo and located some 50,000 old Hebrew and Arabic manuscripts (including some more parts of Ecclesiasticus) which would provide the basis for many of his subsequent books, such as Documents of Jewish sectaries (1910). In 1901 he accepted the post of Jewish Theological Seminary of America (New York City). He soon became the major Jewish scholar in the U.S.A. while the seminary and its lay arm, the United Synagogue of America, became important centers of Conservative Judaism. He wrote what is regarded as the first modern approach to Jewish theology, Some Aspects of Rabbinic Theology (1909).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.