Hungarian separatist orthodoxy and the Migration of its legacy to America: The Greenwald-Hirschenson debate

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Amid the myriad Jewish efforts to accommodate modern Europe's novel realities, Hungarian Orthodoxy stood out, according to Jacob Katz, in promoting “enhancement of the tradition…limitation of contact with the outside world…[and] exclusion of the recalcitrants.” Over the course of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, prominent disciples of this stream spread its influence to other parts of the Jewish world. Although the Orthodox rabbinic elite that initially arose in America was dominated by Polish and Lithuanian figures, there were a few conspicuous early twentieth century immigrant rabbis in America, whose outlooks and policies were shaped or inspired by their exposures to Hungarian Orthodoxy. The current study engages two of them, Rabbi Yekutiel Yehudah “Leopold” Greenwald (1889-1955) and Rabbi Hayyim Hirschenson (1857-1935). The divergent ways their respective early encounters with Hungarian Orthodoxy were reflected in their subsequent paths, impart vivid evidence of the multiple legacies that Hungarian Orthodoxy nurtured beyond its original borders. Through exploring these variant manifestations of the Hungarian worldview within the American Jewish landscape, this article offers novel perspectives on the way immigrant religious figures navigated the Americanization process that ostensibly was at odds with their European roots.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)250-283
Number of pages34
JournalThe Jewish Quarterly Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2015


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