I. Buildings Integral to the Former Life and/or Persecution of Jews in Hamburg - Neustadt/St. Pauli.
© Wilhelm Mosel, Deutsch-jüdische Gesellschaft Hamburg.
10. Rear of Nos. 43 and 45 Erste Brunnenstraße/Alter Steinweg.
The first Temple was built by the architect H. G. Krug and dedicated in 1818. It was situated in a courtyard in the former Erste Brunnenstraße, surrounded by gardens. The design and furnishing of the inside of the building determined it as a place of worship of the Reform community: the women's gallery no longer had grills, and there was a pulpit, and an organ on the western side with its own gallery; the last two additions being the influence of the Christian church.
An account from 1836 states:
The community was part of the Temple Movement who called their place of worship a "Temple" rather than synagogue. In contrast to Orthodox Judaism, Reform Judaism rejects the idea of an actual reappearance of the Temple in Jerusalem, following the arrival of ther Messiah.
The New Israelite Temple Society was founded in 1817 following prior unsuccessful attempts made in the Netherlands, Westphalia and Berlin. The majority of members were prosperous former members of the German-Israelite Community, who in almost all other aspects had already assimilated to the christian world around them. They additionally sought to make reforms within the religious sphere and saw through this the possibility of emancipation (equal rights for Jews). Administratively the society remained within the German-Israelite Community.
The word emancipation was, in Germany after 1831, applied to equal rights for Jews. Article 16 of the Basic Rights of the Frankfurt Federal Assembly in which Jews were assured equal civic and civil status came into effect on 23.02.1848. Although this applied to Hamburg it was not until the new Hamburg constitution of 1860 and two further laws passed in 1864 that the emancipation of Hamburg Jews acquired a legal status.
Israel Jacobson (1768-1828) was one of the pioneers of the Temple movement. He was born in Halberstadt and in his youth became familiar with the ideas of the Enlightenment, in particular from the works of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing and Moses Mendelssohn. He later moved to Braunschweig and established, among other things, a very successful business. In 1795 he was appointed chief rabbi for what today are the districts of Gandersheim and Holzminden. Early in his life he associated financial success with philanthropy. In his capacity of chief rabbi he experienced the wretched situation of Jewish youth and had the idea of founding a Jewish educational instition. This he achieved, in opposition to the local inhabitants, in 1801 in Seesen, on the western edge of the Harz Mountains.
In 1807 Jerôme was crowned King of Westfalen in Kassel and shortly thereafter granted the Jews total equality with the Christians. Jacobson was directly involved and became the Spokesman for the Jews when it came to implementing the decrees. During the course of his involvement he was appointed the highest Jewish representative in the kingdom.
In 1810 he named his synagogue in Seesen, in Niedersaxon, "Temple" and adopted the
Christian form of worship i.e. with confirmation, the sermon in German, the playing
of the organ, and choral music.
In 1817 Dr. Eduard Kley became the first spiritual leader of the Hamburg Temple. He arrived in Hamburg from Berlin and was appointed head of the Israelitische Freichule (Israelite Free School) (School for the Poor). Kley officially opened the Temple in 1818. In 1818 Dr. Eduard Kley and Dr. Gotthold Salomon (1784-1857) became the first spiritual leaders of the Neue Israelitische Tempelvereins (New Israelite Temple Association).
The religious service of the Hamburg Temple was disseminated at the 1820 Leipzig Fair where Jewish businessmen from Germany, many other European countries, and from the USA met and discussed the new ritual. As a consequence, the Reform community, including New York and Baltimore, adopted the Hamburg Temple's new prayer book, which was read from front to back, as in the Christian world.
Today Reform Judaism, with its origins in the Hamburg Temple, has alone in the USA circa 2 million members.
The first members included Meyer Israel Bresselau, Lazarus Gumpel and Ruben Daniel Warburg. Later members included Salomon Heine and Dr. Gabriel Riesser, who was chairman of the Temple Association from 1840-43.
The movement was not only strongly attacked by the orthodoxy for being irreligious and freethinking but was critised from within the Reform movement itself. Directly after the publication of the new prayer book in 1818 the dayanin of the Bethdin of the orthodox German-Israelite Community posted a ban on the use of the book in the synagogue in Elbstraße. This and a collection of written critisms was ineffective. When in 1841 the new edition of the prayer book was published its use was also banned.
The influence of the Temple movement was not restricted to the liberal community; one of the lasting effects has been the introduction of the sermon in German, also within the orthodox community.
Today nothing remains of the former first Temple or the Erste Brunnenstraße.
German text: Dipl.-Pol. Wilhelm Mosel, Deutsch-Jüdische Gesellschaft, Hamburg.