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Meyer Kayserling


Meyer Kayserling was a German rabbi and historian. Kayserling, born in Hanover, studied with S.R. Hirsch in Nikolsburg, S.J. Rapoport in Prague, and S.B. Bamberger in Wuerzburg and at Halle University. From 1861 to 1870 he was rabbi at Endingen, Switzerland, where he fought strenuously for Jewish rights; thereafter he was rabbi and preacher in Budapest.

Kayserling published a large number of works on various aspects of Jewish history, literature, and religion, mostly in German, which were very popular in their day, including Moses Mendelssohn: sein Leben und seine Werke (1862, 18882); Bibliothek juedischer Kanzelredner (2 vols., 1870–72); Die juedischen Frauen in der Geschichte … (1879); and a popular Jewish history, Lehrbuch der juedischen Geschichte und Lite ratur (1874); which ultimately went through ten editions. He also contributed the section on modern Jewish literature to Winter and Wuensche's handbook on post-biblical Jewish literature, Juedische Literatur seit dem Abschluss des Kanons … (vol. 3, 1896).

But Kayserling's reputation rests on his long series of pioneering publications on the history of Spanish Jewry and the Marranos, based to a great degree on original and, in some cases manuscript, sources. His Geschichte der Juden in Spanien und Portugal, which in fact covered mainly Navarre and the Balearic Islands (vol. 1, 1861) and Portugal (vol. 2, 1867), was the first work in which Hebrew sources were consistently used. His works on Marrano history and literature put the study on a new footing and were the basis of all subsequent treatments. They include Sephardim: Romanische Poesien der Juden in Spanien (1859); Menasseh ben Israel (1861); Christoph Columbus und der Anteil der Juden an den spanischen und portugiesischen Entdeckungen (1894; Christopher Columbus and the Participation of the Jews in the Spanish and Portuguese Discoveries, 1894, repr. 1968), written at the request of the Spanish government on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America; and his great bibliography of Marrano literature Bibliotheca española-portugueza-judaica (Fr., 1890, repr. 1962 and 1971). In addition, the articles he contributed to the Jewish Encyclopedia on these subjects have retained their importance. Many of his works were translated into English and some into Hebrew. More than 100 of his articles on Jewish history and literature published before 1900 are listed in M. Schwab's Répertoire des articles relatifs à l'histoire et à la littérature juives … (1914–23).


L. Philippson, Biography of Meyer Kayserling (1898); W.A. Meisel, Ein Lebens-und Zeitbild … (1891); M. Weisz, Bibliographie der Schriften Dr. M. Kayserlings (1929); E. Neumann, Kayserling (Hg., 1906).

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.