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Biographical/Historical Information

Isaac Bernays was born in Mainz on September 29, 1792. He studied at the University of Würzburg before becoming chief rabbi at the Jewish congregation in Hamburg in 1821. Bernays was the first Orthodox rabbi in Germany who introduced the German sermon into the service. Moreover, he reformed the congregation’s Talmud Torah school into an institution of higher learning by adding classes in German, science, geography, and history. Bernays, a relative of Heinrich Heine, was the grandfather of Martha Bernays, who married Sigmund Freud. Isaac Bernays died in 1849.

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Isaac Bernays, Leo Baeck Institute, F 5902.