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German rabbi, scholar, and theologian Abraham Geiger (1810–1874) is recognized as the principal leader of the Reform movement in German Judaism. In his new work, Ken KoltunFromm argues that for Geiger, personal meaning in religion— rather than rote ritual practice or acceptance of dogma—was the key to religion’s moral authority. In five chapters, the book explores issues central to Geiger’s work that speak to contemporary Jewish practice—historical memory, biblical Jacket illustration: Abraham Geiger, circa 1860. courtesy of the leo baeck institute, new york. “Koltun-Fromm reveals the enduring relevance Geiger possesses for modern religious life. Abraham Geiger’s Liberal Judaism: Personal Meaning and Religious Authority is a crucial and imaginative academic study that has profound communal and personal meaning for scholars and laypersons alike.” —Rabbi David Ellenson President and I. H. and Anna Grancell Professor of Jewish Religion and Thought, Hebrew Union College ISBN-13: 978-0-253-34744-2 ISBN-10: 0-253-34744-0 http://iupress.indiana.edu 1-800-842-6796 Abraham Geiger’s Liberal Judaism Ken Koltun-Fromm Personal Meaning and Religious Authority Abraham Geiger’s Liberal Judaism Koltun-Fromm INDIANA Abraham Geiger’s Liberal Judaism explores how religious authority and personal meaning interweave to produce a liberal mosaic of Jewish practice in Geiger’s religious works. Discussing Geiger’s views of history, memory, text, education, ritual, gender, and the rabbinate in nineteenth-century German Jewry, Koltun-Fromm uncovers Geiger’s appeal to personal meaning to create religious authority for modern Jews. Jewish Studies / Religion interpretation, ritual and gender practices, rabbinic authority, and Jewish education. This is essential reading for scholars, rabbis, rabbinic students, and informed Jewish readers interested in Conservative and Reform Judaism. KEN KOLTUN-FROMM is Associate Professor of Religion at Haverford College and author of Moses Hess and Modern Jewish Identity (Indiana University Press, 2001). Jewish Literature and Culture series editor, Alvin H. Rosenfeld ABRAHAM GEIGER’S LIBERAL JUDAISM Jewish Literature and Culture Alvin Rosenfeld, editor ABRAHAM GEIGER’S LIBERAL JUDAISM Personal Meaning and Religious Authority Ken Koltun-Fromm indiana university press bloomington and indianapolis The author and the publisher wish to acknowledge the generous support of The Lucius N. Littauer Foundation. This book is a publication of Indiana University Press 601 North Morton Street Bloomington, IN 47404-3797 USA http://iupress.indiana.edu Telephone orders 800-842-6796 Fax orders 812-855-7931 Orders by e-mail iuporder@indiana.edu© 2006 by Kenneth Koltun-Fromm All rights reserved No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. The Association of American University Presses’ Resolution on Permissions constitutes the only exception to this prohibition. The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of American National Standard for Information Sciences—Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48-1984. Manufactured in the United States of America Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Koltun-Fromm, Ken. Abraham Geiger’s liberal Judaism : personal meaning and religious authority / Ken Koltun-Fromm. p. cm. — (Jewish literature and culture) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-253-34744-0 (cloth : alk. paper) 1. Geiger, Abraham, 1810–1874—Teachings. 2. Reform Judaism. 3. Authority—Religious aspects—Judaism. 4. Meaning (Philosophy)—Religious aspects—Judaism. I. Title. II. Series. BM755.G4K65 2006 296.8′341092—dc22 2005037578 1 2 3 4 5 11 10 09 08 07 06 For David and Barbara Fromm ...