ADLER, LAZARUS (LEVI):
German rabbi, of the period of transition; born at Unsleben, Bavaria, Nov. 10, 1810; died at Wiesbaden, Jan. 5, 1886. He studied Hebrew literature at an early age, and, under his father's tuition, read both the Bible and the Talmud. In accordance with the system of education then prevailing, he was placed in the yeshibah (rabbinical academy) of Rabbi Hirsch Kunreuter, at Gelnhausen, where for five years he assiduously applied himself to Talmudic studies. Thence he went to Würzburg, Bavaria, partly to attend the lectures on the Talmud by Chief Rabbi Abraham Bing and partly to prepare himself for academic studies. In 1830 he was matriculated at the University of Würzburg. From his intercourse here with Einhorn and Dukes he received many spiritual suggestions. These were not wasted; and, under the advice of his teacher, Professor Wagner, he read Herder's writings, which definitely shaped his conception of the clerical calling in relation to preaching and practise.
In 1832, accompanied by friends, he journeyed to Munich, and in the winter of 1833 received the degree of doctor of philosophy at Erlangen. Returning home, he prepared for, and passed with honors, the Theological State Board examination, prescribed by law for teachers. With others of congenial views, Adler founded (Würzburg, 1837-38; Munich, 1839-45) "Die Synagoge," a non-partizan Jewish religious journal, whose sole aim was to instruct and to edify. At an assembly of representatives of Jewish congregations, convened at Würzburg by order of the Bavarian government, and which Adler attended as the representative of his native congregation, he showed the same moderate policy that he pursued throughout his life.
In 1840 Adler was elected district rabbi of Kissingen, a section of the country comprising twenty-four congregations. A memorandum on the civic position of the Jews in Bavaria, published by Adler in 1846 at Munich; a circular letter, addressed to the deputy Allioli, and entitled "Emancipation and Religion of the Jews, or the Jewish Race and its Adversaries" (Fürth, 1850); and an "Open Letter" (1852), addressed to the deputies Ruland, Sepp, and Allioli, were all well received.
In 1852 Adler received a call to Mayence; but, having also been offered the chief rabbinate of the electorate of Hesse, at Cassel, as successor to Philip Roman, who died 1842, he decided to accept the latter appointment. While at Cassel, in addition to his increasing ministerial duties, he contributed occasionally to the literature of his day. "Talmudische Welt-und Lebensweisheit" was the title of a work in which he intended to treat the Pirḳe Abot; but only the first volume appeared. A large number of excellent sermons that he published testify to his homiletic gifts. In the field of pedagogics he was also active, editing school-books, especially a reader for Jewish schools containing numerous translations (in German) from rabbinical literature. He also published "Discourses for the Promotion of Humanity" (in German, 3 vols., 1860, 1870, 1876). The Bavarian government would not permit him to attend the congresses of rabbis at Brunswick, Frankfort, and Breslau; but he took a prominent part in the proceedings of the congress at Cassel, over which he presided, and in those of the synods at Leipsic and Augsburg. An earnest speaker, he strenuously advocated moderation, pleading for union and peace. His last work, favoring wise reforms, bore the title "Hillel and Shammai, or conservative Reform and stable Conservatism; a message of peace to the congregation of Israel and its leaders," Strasburg, 1878.
- Kayserling, Bibliothek Jüdischer Kanzelredner, ii. 222.