JEITELES


JEITELES (Jeitteles, Geidels), prominent family first appearing in Prague. The first known Jeiteles was MOSES BEN SIMON, on record as a house owner in 1615. His son LOEB (d. 1666) was gabbai of the ḥevra kaddisha for 30 years and also of the Altschul Synagogue. BERL (Issachar Baer; d. 1685), leader of the Prague community from 1666 until his death, was imprisoned in 1664, when the community elders refused to hand over to the authorities those Jews who had attacked the witnesses against the Prague chief rabbi Simon Spira-Wedeles. He was jailed again in 1667, on a charge of instigating the shooting of the renegade informer Wenzel Wimbersky but was released in the same year. AARON BEN BAER JEITELES (d. 1777) was known as a talmudic scholar and kabbalist. His allegorical commentary on the Pentateuch, Zera Aharon, was published in 1797. MOSES WOLF (d. 1848), secretary of the ḥevra kaddisha for many years, was apparently Aaron's son. He published a compendium for the ḥevra kaddisha (1828) based on the Ma'avar Yabbok of *Aaron Berechiah b. Moses, which included a history of Prague Jewry and in which he made use of Marcus Fischer's (see Moses Fischer) allegedly medieval Ramshak Chronicle. He was the first to recognize the importance of gravestone inscriptions for historical research, and his notes served his son-in-law Koppelmann *Lieben in his Gal Ed. SIMON JEITELES was Jewish "Vorzensor" for the Jesuit censor, Haselbauer, in the second half of the 18th century,

Jeiteles

and ISRAEL JEITELES owned a Hebrew printing press in the 1770s.

The main branch of the family were descendants of the apothecary MISHEL LOEB (d. 1763), who played a central role in spreading the Enlightenment in Prague and investing it with a characteristically Jewish national consciousness. Mishel's son JONAS (1735–1806) originally prepared for a rabbinical career in Abraham Moses Zerah *Eidlitz' yeshivah. However, he went on to study medicine at the universities of Leipzig and Halle, graduating in 1755. Settling in Prague, he later became chief physician of the Jewish community hospital (1763) and supervisor of the Jewish surgeons' board (1777), declining the offer of the post of physician to the Polish king, Stanislas II Augustus. He published articles on medical subjects and parts of his book, Observata Quaedam Medica (1783), were translated in early 19th-century medical textbooks. His main medical achievement, however, which was largely instrumental in earning him the name of the father of the Prague Enlightenment, was his propagation of Edward Jenner's smallpox vaccination in the face of Christian and Jewish prejudice: he inoculated his own daughter and more than 1,500 persons. In 1784 after an audience with *Joseph II, he was permitted to treat patients "without consideration of their religion." A master of ancient and modern languages, Jonas was a friend of Ezekiel *Landau. Jonas' eldest son, BARUCH (Benedict; 1762–1813), a scholar and Hebrew writer, strove for a synthesis of modern and traditional scholarship. In his youth he ran away from home to Berlin, but later returned and was reconciled with his teacher, Ezekiel Landau. He contributed poems to Ha-Me'assef (the journal of the *Me'assefim) dealing with the lonely and difficult position of the enlightened intellectual in traditional society. When he eulogized Landau in his Emek ha-Bakha (1793) in a wholly Orthodox and traditional manner, the radical editor of Ha-Me'assef attacked him. A booklet, Sefer ha-Orev, published allegedly in Salonika in 1795 under the pen name Phinehas Hananiah Argosi de Silva, which attacks the disrespectful attitude of the Berlin radicals to rabbinical scholars, is generally considered to be Baruch's refutation of their attacks. So, too, the pamphlet, "A Discussion between the Years 5560 and 5561" (1800 and 1801) a polemic against the Frankists in Prague, is generally attributed to him. He published four editions of Moses Mendelssohn's commentary on Maimonides' Millot ha-Higgayon, three of them in German translation in Hebrew type, and Ta'am ha-Melekh (1801), glosses to Isaac Nuñez Belmonte's novellae on Maimonides' Sha'ar ha-Melekh. A sermon supporting his father's vaccination campaign was published in 1805. A man of independent means, Baruch founded a yeshivah in his house and encouraged rising Hebrew authors. In 1813 he induced leaders of the Prague community to open a hospital for wounded soldiers "of all nationalities" in the Jewish quarter. He himself died of hospital fever while caring for them.

His son IGNAZ (Isaac; 1783–1843) studied law at Prague University before moving to Vienna (1810) and establishing himself there as a merchant. A prolific writer, he contributed to general and Jewish periodicals, his articles on Jewish history in *Sulamith being of particular interest. Along with his father, he supported his grandfather's efforts toward vaccination in a pamphlet (Die Kuhpockenimpfung, 1804) and published Biographie des Dr. Jonas Jeiteles (1806). His main literary achievement was Aesthetisches Lexikon (2 vols., 1835–38). Ignaz was eventually estranged from Judaism. One of Baruch's other sons, SAMUEL (d. 1861), who was baptized in 1828 as Sigmund Christian Geitler, Edler von Armingen, became an outstanding industrialist and philanthropist. Baruch's youngest son, LEOPOLD, was also baptized and adopted the name Geitler (1833). JUDAH LOEB (1773–1838), another of Jonas' sons, a Hebrew writer, contributed to the Ha-Me'assef and to the annuals Bikkurei ha-Ittim and Kerem Ḥemed, publishing poems and biblical and halakhic articles. He was also the author of an Aramaic grammar Mevo ha-Lashon ha-Aramit (1813) and a collection of poems Benei ha-Ne'urim (1821). One of the four chairmen of the Prague community, Judah supervised its German-language school. Unlike both the radical maskilim and the Orthodox, he favored a school in which secular and Jewish religious education would be united. It was mainly Judah who developed the peculiar blend of Hapsburg patriotism and awareness of the Jews as one of the nations in the empire which was characteristic of the Prague Haskalah. It found its outstanding expression in his opposition to Mordecai Manuel *Noah's program for his city of refuge, Ararat (Bikkurei ha-Ittim, 7 (1826/27), 45–49), claiming that nobody would answer Noah's call because "they are all now living under the rule of benign and merciful kings who deal mercifully and benevolently with us, as with all the other nations who live together with us in harmony and friendship." In 1835 he published a Hebrew and Aramaic translation of the Austrian anthem (shir tehillah me-ammei ha-araẓot). Judah was the first to use the expression *"Haskalah" for the Enlightenment movement. For Anton von *Schmidt's fourth edition of the Bible he translated and edited several volumes. In 1830 he settled in Vienna and edited the last two volumes of Bikkurei ha-Ittim (nos. 11 and 12) in 1831, making it of greater interest to Jewish scholarship.

Judah's son AARON (1799–1878) was baptized in 1828 and as Andreas Ludwig Joseph Heinrich Jeiteles became professor of anatomy at Vienna University and from 1836 at Olmuetz (Olomouc). He was active in politics and in 1848 was a member of the German National Assembly in Frankfurt on the moderate left. A prolific writer on medical subjects, he published in 1832 a call to physicians to pay more attention to psychology. Under the pen name of Justus Frey he also wrote poetry, some of which was set to music by Ludwig van Beethoven. His collected poems, Gesammelte Dichtungen, were published in 1899. In one of his later poems he warned Jewish youth not to become renegades. Two of his sons attained some importance, one as a German philologist and the other as a geographer.

Another of Jonas' sons, ISAAC (1779–1852), also became a physician, taking over Jonas' practice and becoming head physician of the Prague Jewish hospital. He published several medical papers: of importance are those dealing with the Bohemian mineral springs. Another of Jonas' four sons, BEZALEL (Gottlieb), moved to Bruenn (Brno) where he owned a Hebrew printing press. His son, ALOIS (1794–1858), studied medicine and philosophy in Prague and Vienna, and settled as a physician in 1821 in his native Bruenn. In Vienna he was a member of the circle of Beethoven and Franz Grillparzer. In 1819 he published jointly with Ignaz (see above) a short-lived Jewish periodical, Siona. His cycle of poems, An die ferne Geliebte, was set to music by Beethoven (1816). He translated Italian and Spanish dramas into German and his parody, "Der Schicksalsstrumpf" (1819), achieved success. His son RICHARD (1839–1909) was a railway expert. ISAAC JEITELES (1814–1857), a popular novelist in his day, published around 100 novels under the name of Julius Seydlitz. He was baptized a few days before his death.

The Jeiteles family continued to reside in Prague through the years. Its outstanding member was BERTHOLD (Issachar Baer; 1875–1958) who had originally studied chemistry. Strictly Orthodox, he preferred to open a glove factory so that he could observe the Sabbath. The publication of his works on talmudic subjects was prevented by the Nazi rise to power (1933). After the German occupation of Prague (1939) he was deported to *Theresienstadt, where he was able to continue his studies. He was put on a transport to *Auschwitz but was returned to Theresienstadt because there had been ten too many on the transport; officially, however, he was considered dead. In 1945 he returned to Prague and found all his hidden manuscripts intact. In 1948 he moved to New York. After his death, an Institute for Publishing the Talmudic Encyclopaedia of Dr. Berthold Jeiteles was established in Manchester (England) and the first book of Konkordanẓyah Talmudit (1951/52) on Rav was published. Still unpublished are 45 volumes on all personalities of both Talmuds, Tosefta, and Midrash and their opinions, as well as 18 volumes of Ẓiyyunim, an alphabetically arranged glossary of talmudic terms and names.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

R. Kestenberg-Gladstein, Neuere Geschichte der Juden in den boehmischen Laendern (1969), index, bibliography; S. Hock, Mishpeḥot Prag (1892), 165–9; T. Jakobovits, in: JGGJČ, 7 (1935), 421; S. Kaznelson, Die unsterbliche Geliebte (1954), index; Zinberg, Sifrut, 6 (1960), index; G. Kirsch, in: HJ, 8 (1946), 149–80, passim; B. Jeiteles, Konkordanẓyah Talmudit (1951/52), prefaces.

[Henry Wasserman and

Meir Lamed]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.