Concept

Heinrich Graetz

Summary
Heinrich Graetz (ɡʁɛts; 31 October 1817 – 7 September 1891) was amongst the first historians to write a comprehensive history of the Jewish people from a Jewish perspective. Born Tzvi Hirsch Graetz to a butcher family in Xions (now Książ Wielkopolski), Grand Duchy of Posen, in Prussia (now in Poland), he attended Breslau University, but since Jews at that time were barred from receiving Ph.D.s there, he obtained his doctorate from the University of Jena. After 1845 he was principal of the Jewish Orthodox school of the Breslau community, and later taught history at the Jewish Theological Seminary of Breslau (now Wrocław, Poland). His magnum opus History of the Jews was quickly translated into other languages and ignited worldwide interest in Jewish history. In 1869 the University of Breslau (Wrocław) granted him the title of Honorary Professor. In 1888 he was appointed an Honorary Member of the Spanish Royal Academy of Sciences. Graetz received his first instruction at Zerkow, where his parents had relocated, and in 1831 was sent to Wollstein, where he attended the yeshivah up to 1836, acquiring secular knowledge by private study. The Neunzehn Briefe über Judenthum, ("Nineteen Letters on Judaism") by Samson Raphael Hirsch, which were published under the pseudonym of "Ben Uziel" at Altona in 1836, made a powerful impression on him; and he resolved to prepare himself for academic studies in order to champion the cause of Orthodox Judaism. His first intention was to go to Prague, to which place he was attracted by the fame of its old yeshivah and the facilities afforded by the university. Being rejected by the immigration officers, he returned to Zerkov and wrote to Hirsch, then rabbi of Oldenburg, indicating his desire. Hirsch offered him a place in his house. Graetz arrived there on May 8, 1837, and spent three years with his patron as a pupil, companion, and amanuensis. In 1840 he accepted a tutorship with a family at Ostrowo, and in October 1842 he entered the University of Breslau.
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