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Ludwig Lewysohn

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Lewysohn, Ludwig (1819–1901), rabbi, Germany, Sweden.

Read more about Ludwig Lewysohn in:


by Michael R. Warburg

Yehuda Leib Ludwig Lewysohn (1819-1901) was born on April 15, 1819, in Schwersenz (Swarzeds osnania (Prussia). His father was Rabbi Joseph and mother Gitel Henriette Wiener. Their youngest son Yehudah, Leib, Ludwig studied since he reached the age of 13 yrs old under Rabbi Feibel Fraenkel and later under Rabbi Raphael Benzion and Rabbi Eliah Gutmacher, Rabbi Menachem Oierbach and Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Zukerman. In 1842 (when LL was 23 years old) went to Breslau and entered the Catholic Gymnasium. In 1843 went to Berlin for Matriculation in the 'Realgymnasium' Berlin. Later studied at Halle University oriental languages (Hebrew, Arabic, Greek and Latin) and philosophy. His Ph.D. dissertation was written in Latin: "De sacrificiis veteris testamenti" (i.e. on the sacrifices in the old testament later published as a book: "Die Opfer des alten Testaments. Beitrag zum Studien der Biblischen Archaologie Bamberg 1867). He received his Ph.D. on November 30, 1847.

In 1848 he was nominated as preacher in Frankfurt/Oder (1848-1851). He passsed his examination with excellence receiving the right to teach: 'facultas pro schola'. In 1851 he married Roasalia Zendig, daughter of Rabbi Yehezkeel Zendig. In 1851 became the Rabbi of Worms, a position he held until 1858. His wife died in 1852. In 1854 he married Phillipine Baer (daughter of the publisher Joseph Baer) from Frankfurt/Main.

In 1858 he received two offers for positions: 1. as Rabbi of Baltimore and 2. as Rabbi in Stockholm. He chose Stockholm and became chief Rabbi of Sweden in 1859. The reason why LL prefered Sweden was that he had already 4 children and did not wish to leave Europe. He retired on May 1st, 1883 at the age of 64. Nothing is known of his activities after his retirement in 1883 till his death in Stockholm on March 26, 1901.

LL arrived in Stockholm on August 1858 and preached on a Sabbath sermon in the old synagogue Tyska Brunn (The German Well) in Gamla Stan (the old town). Later, he officiated in the New Synagogue at Wahrendorffsgatan which was inaugurated in 1870.

He became a Swedish citizen in 1873 (Royal resolution September 16, 1873).

The daughter from his 1st wife: Natalie (February 10, 1852, Worms). From his 2nd wife: Johanna (December 5, 1854, Worms, unmarried, died on June 21, 1916, Stockholm), Felix (May 31, 1856, Worms, died on September 12, 1864), Otto (September 2, 1857, Worms, unmarried, died May 9, 1907 in Stockholm), Ottilie (November 1, 1859 in Stockholm, unmarried, died on March 18, 1917 in Stockholm), Emma (September 30, 1861 in Stockholm, unmarried, died on April 20, 1881 in Stockholm), Bettina (April 18, 1863 in Stockholm, unmarried, died May 29, 1903 in Stockholm).

After being two years in Sweden, he knew already enough Swedish to preach in that language. After 5 years he published his book of preaching ("Aseifat Drashot") which included numerous (1815!) sermons or 'Drashot'.

He was fluent in German, Swedish, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, English and French. He published 30 books and numerous articles mainly in German, Swedish and Hebrew.

Lewysohn's most important book was: Die Zoologie des Talmuds, 1858 (dedicated to his brothers Abraham and Salomon), the first scientific attempt by a Jewish scholar to collate all Talmudic and Midrashic references to animal life.

Lewysohn also published a book on epitaphs from the old Medieval Jewish cemetery in Worms: Sechzig Epitaphien von Grabsteine des Israelitischen Friedhofs zu Worms regressiv bis zum Jahre 905 (Frankfurt/Main 1855) known also as NAFSHOT ZADDIKIM, 1855 Joseph Baer, Frankfurt (dedicated to his parents Joseph Lewysohn and Henriette Wiener Lewysohn).

Some publications are in Hebrew periodicals and anthologies including: GAN PRAHIM (1891), "NER HAMAARAVI (1895) KADIMAH (1899) OZAR HAKHOKHMA VE HAMADA (1854) HA-MIZPEH, OZAR HASAFRUT 1887-1902, and KOHUT: Semitic Studies in Memory of Rev. Dr. Alexander Kohut 1897.

He was a regular contributor to the Hebrew Press, particularly HA-MAGGID but also HATSOFE, HAMEVASER, HAIVRI, ZION, LEV IVRI, NOGA YAREACH, SHEM VEYEFET, HAASIF, OTSAR HASIFRUT VEHACHOCHMA, OR HATORA, YERUSHALYIM. He also wrote on Jewish subjects in German journals: Z.v.Geschichte und Wissenschaft des Judentums, Judisches Literatur Blatt, Literatur Blatt des Orients, and in French, English, and Swedish journals. He contributed also to the Swedish encyclopedia Nordisk familjebok. Konversationslexikon och Realenyclopedi, 1st ed. (using the signature L.L.).




Religious publications (Drashot, Tfilot)

Obituaries & Memorial lectures



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