Emil G. Hirsch

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Emil Gustav Hirsch
Born(1851-05-22)May 22, 1851 (20 Iyar 5611)
DiedJanuary 7, 1923(1923-01-07) (aged 71)
(19 Tevet 5683)
EducationUniversity of Pennsylvania
OccupationReform rabbi
SpouseDaughter of David Einhorn
ParentSamuel Hirsch

Emil Gustav Hirsch (May 22, 1851 – January 7, 1923) was a Luxembourgish-born Jewish American biblical scholar, Reform rabbi, contributing editor to numerous articles of The Jewish Encyclopedia (1906), and founding member of the NAACP.


Emil Gustav Hirsch was born in Luxembourg, a son of the rabbi and philosopher Samuel Hirsch on May 22, 1851. He later married the daughter of Rabbi David Einhorn. He studied at the University of Pennsylvania, and in 1872 went to Berlin for post-graduate work. He was rabbi at Har Sinai Congregation in Baltimore (1877–78), and in Louisville, Kentucky (1878–80). But he did his greatest work in Chicago.

For forty-two years (1880–1923), Hirsch served as the rabbi of Chicago Sinai Congregation, one of the oldest synagogues in the Midwest. At this post, he became well known for an emphasis on social justice. From Chicago Sinai's pulpit, he delivered rousing sermons on the social ills of the day and many Chicagoans, Jews and Gentiles alike, were in attendance.

Appointed professor of rabbinical literature and philosophy at the University of Chicago in 1892, Hirsch also served on the Chicago Public Library board from 1885 to 1897. He took some part in politics as a member of the Republican Party.

He was an influential exponent of advanced thought and Reform Judaism. He edited Der Zeitgeist (Milwaukee, 1880–82) and the Reform Advocate (1891–1923). He also edited the Department of the Bible of the Jewish Encyclopedia and contributed feminist articles to The American Jewess. He also wrote studies of the historical relationship between Judaism and Christianity, including appreciations of its founding figures Jesus and Paul.[1] In addition, he published a number of articles for the Reform Advocate, a weekly journal which he edited for thirty years.

From 1872 to 1876, he studied at the Universities of Berlin and Leipzig. Returning to America, he married Mathilda Einhorn in Louisville, Kentucky.[2] Here, he remained until his death on January 7, 1923.

Hirsch left a legacy as a renowned preacher in American Jewry.[3] Many scholarly articles in the Jewish Encyclopedia were contributed by him. His social and philanthropic pursuits were a valuable contribution.[4]

Hirsch is the namesake of the Emil G. Hirsch Metropolitan High School of Communications, located in the Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood in Chicago. In keeping with his interest in education, Hirsch advised a wealthy congregant, Julius Rosenwald of Sears, Roebuck & Co., to use part of his wealth to help build public schools for black students in the segregated South; their facilities were consistently underfunded. The rural school building program, based on the use of matching funds from local communities, was one of the largest programs, but not the only, administered by the Rosenwald Fund.

He was a presidential elector in the 1896 presidential election.[5]

He was the maternal grandfather of U.S. Attorney General Edward Hirsch Levi.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Langton, Daniel (2010). The Apostle Paul in the Jewish Imagination. Cambridge University Press. pp. 98–102.
  2. ^ "American Jewish Archives" (PDF). American Jewish Archives. 1952.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ "Emil G Hirsch" (PDF). AMerican Jewish Archives.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ "Emil G Hirsch" (PDF).{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ Adler, Cyrus; Vizetelly, Frank H. "Hirsch, Emil Gustav". The Jewish Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2021-12-19.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)



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