Michael Heilprin (Hungarian: Heilprin Mihály, 1823 – 1888) was a Polish-American Jewish biblical scholar, critic, and writer, born at Piotrków, Russian Poland, to Jewish parents. His family was distinguished by its knowledge of Hebrew lore as far back as the 16th century. Michael Heilprin was a scholar who was familiar with more than a dozen languages.
His father, Phineas Mendel Heilprin, left Poland for Hungary in 1842. On the outbreak of the Hungarian revolution in 1848, Michael threw himself ardently into the movement led by Kossuth. The collapse of the revolution resulted in him leaving Europe in 1856 for the United States where he remained for the rest of his life.
He was connected with the American Cyclopædia from 1858 and was one of the associate editors of the new edition of that publication (1873–1876). From the time of its establishment in 1865, he became a regular contributor to the New York Nation. In 1879-1880, he published two volumes of The Historical Poetry of the Ancient Hebrews, Translated and Critically Examined, a work of profound original research. The work was left incomplete at the author's death.
He directed the establishment of several successful agricultural colonies in the United States for Russian-Jewish immigrants.
Views on slavery
In the civil-war era, prominent Jewish religious leaders in the United States engaged in public debates about slavery. Generally, rabbis from the Southern states supported slavery, and those from the North opposed slavery. The most notable debate was between rabbi Morris Jacob Raphall, who endorsed slavery, and rabbi David Einhorn who opposed it.
In 1861, Raphall published his views that slavery in a treatise called "The Bible View of Slavery". He wrote, "I am no friend to slavery in the abstract, and still less friendly to the practical working of slavery, But I stand here as a teacher in Israel; not to place before you my own feelings and opinions, but to propound to you the word of G-d, the Bible view of slavery." Heilprin, concerned that Raphall's position would be seen as the official policy of American Judaism, vigorously refuted his arguments, and argued that slavery—as practiced in the South—was immoral and not endorsed by Judaism.
- Kenvin, Helene Schwartz (1986). This Land of Liberty: A History of America's Jews. Behrman House, Inc. pp. 90–92. ISBN 0-87441-421-0.
- Benjamin, Judah P. "Slavery and the Civil War: Part II" in United States Jewry, 1776-1985: The Germanic Period, Jacob Rader Marcus (Ed.), Wayne State University Press, 1993, pp. 13-34.
- Hertzberg, Arthur (1998). The Jews in America: four centuries of an uneasy encounter : a history. Columbia University Press. pp. 111–113. ISBN 0-231-10841-9.
- Benjamin, Judah P. "Slavery and the Civil War: Part II" in United States Jewry, 1776-1985: The Germanic Period, Jacob Rader Marcus (Ed.), Wayne State University Press, 1993, pp. 17-19.
- Adams, Maurianne (1999). Strangers & neighbors: relations between Blacks & Jews in the United States. Univ of Massachusetts Press. pp. 190–194. ISBN 1-55849-236-4.
- Friedman, Murray (2007). What went wrong?: the creation and collapse of the Black-Jewish Alliance. Simon and Schuster. pp. 25–26.
- Sherman, Moshe D. (1996). Orthodox Judaism in America: a biographical dictionary and sourcebook. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 170. ISBN 0-313-24316-6.
- The Bible View of Slavery, By: Rabbi Dr. M.J. Raphall Congregation B'nai Jeshurun, New York City 1861
- Adams, Maurianne (1999). Strangers & neighbors: relations between Blacks & Jews in the United States. Univ of Massachusetts Press. pp. 190–194. ISBN 1-55849-236-4..
- "Heilprin, Michael". Jewish Encyclopedia. 1901–1906.
- Wilson, James Grant; Fiske, John, eds. (1892). "Heilprin, Phineas Mendel". Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton.