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SEMINAIRE ISRAELITE DE FRANCE:

French rabbinical school. On Jan. 23, 1704, Abraham Schwab and Agathe, his wife, founded a yeshibah at Metz; and on Nov. 12, 1705, there was executed before a notary public a deed of trust, a copy of which is still preserved in the seminary archives. The founders gave a site in the Rue de l'Arsenal, Metz, and endowed the yeshibah with a yearly income of 6,000 "livres écus" for the support of five rabbis as professors.

Origin.

On March 30, 1820, the minister of the interior approved a resolution of the Consistory of Metz, dated Dec. 21, 1819, by which the yeshibah became a Talmud Torah, the sum of 1,200 francs being set aside for its support and placed in the hands of a committee of five members chosen by the consistory. The number of pupils was limited to eight, four of whom were exempt from the payment of fees. In addition to religious instruction, the students were required to attend for one hour daily classes in elementary French and arithmetic in the primary school of Metz.

On Aug. 21, 1829, a decree of the French government sanctioned the resolution, presented for consideration by the Central Consistory of the Jews of France, elevating the Talmudic school at Metz to the status of a central rabbinical school. The institution was accordingly opened in July of the following year, and was maintained at the expense of the Jewish communities of France until March 28, 1831, when the government of Louis Philippe made an annual appropriation of 8,500 francs for the state support of the school. Shortly after this the pupils were released by a ministerial circular from the obligation of military service. The successive directorsof the school at Metz were: Chief Rabbi Lion Mayer Lambert, 1829-38; Chief Rabbi Mayer Lazard, 1838-1856; and Chief Rabbi Isaac Trénel, 1856-59.

By a decree of the empress-regent Eugénie, dated July 1, 1859 (Napoleon III. being in Italy at the time), the Central Rabbinical School was transferred from Metz to Paris as the Séminaire Israélite de France, and it was granted an annual subsidy of 22,000 francs. Chief Rabbi Isaac Trénel was the director of the seminary until his death in 1890, his successor in October of the same year being the present (1905) incumbent, Chief Rabbi Joseph Lehmann.

Constitution.

On Dec. 1, 1860, new regulations for the institution were approved by the minister of public instruction and worship, by which it was placed under the government of the Consistory of Paris subject to the supervision of the Central Consistory, and administered by a committee consisting of the chief rabbi of the Central Consistory (president), the chief rabbi of the Consistory of Paris (vice-president), two lay members of the Central Consistory, and six members to be appointed by the Consistory of Paris and confirmed by the Central Consistory. The number of resident pupils receiving gratuitous tuition was limited to ten, and the annual subsidy of 22,000 francs was increased to 32,000 francs. In 1884, however, the allowance of 10,000 francs for free scholarships was discontinued by the state, although the grant of 22,000 francs was maintained. The average annual expenses soon rose to 80,000 francs, this sum being furnished by the subsidies of the state, by the Paris and provincial consistories, and by donations and annual subscriptions. The military law of July 27, 1872, exempted candidates for the rabbinate from military service; but by the enactment of July 15, l889, they were required to serve one year in the army.

The Minor Seminary.

The constitution of the Société du Talmud-Thora or minor seminary was adopted Dec. 5, 1852; and the school itself was opened in the following year under the management of Chief Rabbi Isaac Trénel. Rabbi Zadoc Kahn became its director in 1862, being succeeded some years later by Chief Rabbi Lazare Wogue. In 1873 the Talmud Torah was placed under the same control and in the same building as the seminary, although it retained its separate organization. On Dec. 30, 1892, the minister of public instruction and worship ratified the following amendment to the regulations of Dec. 1, 1860: "To secure the steady growth of the Jewish seminary, a preparatory class, or Talmud Torah, shall be established, where candidates for the rabbinate may pursue both the study of the classics and the elementary study of theology. This class shall be held in connection with the Jewish seminary, and shall be under the direction of the administrative committee of that institution." A class of ḥazzanim was established in the minor seminary in 1899.

On Sept. 12, 1882, the chief rabbis Lazare Isidor and Zadoc Kahn, and Isaac Trénel, the director of the seminary, delivered addresses at the opening of its oratory. The public is admitted to this oratory; the curator is Lucien Dreyfuss, a member of the administrative board of the synagogues of Paris.

The faculty of the Séminaire Israélite de France and of the Talmud Torah is at present composed of the following members, besides a number of rabbis and lay professors who give instruction in general subjects: Chief Rabbi Joseph Lehmann, director; Chief Rabbi Abraham Cahen, adjunct director; Israel Lévi; Hartwig Derenbourg, member of the Institut de France; Mayer Lambert; Jacques Kahn; Joseph Halévy; Julien Weill; and S. Debre.

Bibliography:
  • Abraham Cahen, Ephémerides Israélites, pp. 7-8, Paris, 1861;
  • Isaac Trénel, Rapport sur la Situation Morale du Séminaire Israélite, Paris, 1867;
  • Zadoc Kahn, Sermons, 2d series, pp. 361-369, Paris, 1886;
  • Isaac Ury, Recueil des Lois Concernant les Israélites Depuis 1850 à 1903, Bordeaux, 1887-1903;
  • Arsène Darmesteter, Reliques Scientifiques, pp. viii.-ix., Paris, 1890;
  • Joseph Lehmann, Rapport sur le Seminaire Israélite et le Talmud-Thora, with an introduction by Zadoc Kahn, Paris, 1902;
  • Joseph Lehmann, Rapport Moral et Financier sur le Séminaire Israélite et le Talmud-Thora, Paris, 1903.
S. J. Ka.
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