Rabbi Azriel Hildesheimer was a yeshiva headmaster, an adjudicator, a leader. One of the greatest of his generation and a leader of Orthodox Jewry in Germany.
Rabbi Hildesheimer was born on May 11, 1820 in Halberstadt, Germany. He began serving as a rabbi in his hometown community in 1948, where he founded a yeshiva and assisted the local rabbi. In 1851, he was chosen to serve as the rabbi for the well known community of Eisenstadt, Hungary where he headed the local yeshiva and established an education system.
In 1869, he began his tenure as the rabbi for the Adat Yisrael congregation in Berlin, establishing its institutions and education system. In 1873, he opened a seminary for rabbinical studies which subsequently produced generations of rabbis, educators and public leaders who saved Jewish communities from spiritual decline. The rabbinical seminary functioned continuously until 1939, when it was closed by the Nazis.
Rabbi Hildesheimer fought vigorously against the Reform movement in all its manifestations throughout his life.
He was actively in favor of settling Eretz Israel and founded two companies to support the Jewish Yeshuv, helping many agricultural communities and needy individuals. He chaired the Almshouses on Mount Zion central committee in Jerusalem. In recognition of his work for the Jewish Yeshuv he was given the title “President of Eretz Israel”.
Rabbi Hildesheimer was renowned for his widespread work for the public needs of Jews throughout Germany as well as for Russian Jewry, which led to his being called “the Russian Jewish Consul”.
He published books on many subjects and wrote hundreds of articles in various fields for the Hebrew and German press. He also left letters filled with his responses to Jewish legal questions and interpretations of the Talmud.
Rabbi Azriel Hildesheimer died in Berlin on July 12, 1899.
Description of the Stamp and First Day Cover
The stamp features an image of Rabbi Hildesheimer (photo courtesy of the family).
The First Day Cover features the entrance to the Rabinnical Seminary in Berlin (1873).