MUHR, ABRAHAM (1781–1847), leader of Silesian Jewry. Muhr moved from his native city of Berlin to Plesse (Pszczyna; now in Poland), Prussian Silesia. In 1813 he published a pamphlet, Jerubaal, in opposition to David *Friedlaender's Ein Wort zu seiner Zeit, which demanded extreme reforms in the liturgy and education in response to the Prussian emancipatory edict of 1812. Although Muhr opposed the repudiation of tradition in favor of questionable changes, nevertheless he proposed that sermons in German and choir singing be allowed, and was prepared to sacrifice various customs in order to make the services more respected and meaningful. Subsequently he became an advocate of Reform and an admirer of Abraham *Geiger. He was instrumental in the building of a synagogue in Plesse (1835), where he carried out his 1813 proposals. In 1836 Muhr succeeded in having a cabinet order repealed which introduced the form of address "Jew" in official transactions. He also played a role in the partial repeal of the prohibition on the use of non-Jewish names. In 1840 he was one of the leaders in the organization of a regional body of Upper Silesian Jewry, the first modern union of Jewish communities in Germany. In 1844 he proposed establishing a Jewish agricultural colony, but in 1847 he died in Breslau (now in Poland). His brother Joseph (1772–1848) was leader of the Berlin community.
M. Brann, Abraham Muhr, ein Lebensbild (1918); idem, in: Festschrift Martin Philippson (1916), 342–69; M. Antonov, in: BŻIH, no. 21 (1957), 118–24, 177; Zur Judenfrage in Deutschland (1844); B. Mevorach, in: Zion, 34 (1969), 194f.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.