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Anniversary of Franz Rosenzweig’s Death Observed in Germany

The 25th anniversary of the death of Franz Rosenzweig, noted Jewish philosopher who devoted himself to the instilling of a dynamic spirit into Jewish education, was observed by the Jewish Community here. Chief Rabbi Dr. R.R. Geis, of Baden, recalled that the last publication of the great religious thinker dealt with the 200th anniversary of the birth of Moses Mendelssohn who played such an important role in Jewish life.

West German President Theodor Heuss sent the meeting a telegram in which he praised Rosenzweig, whom he knew personally, as one who had in an exemplary manner demonstrated human forthrightness in the face of the greatest adversity. With his message, he had in mind that Rosenzweig was completely paralyzed from 1922 until he died in his 43rd year, in 1929, yet remained cheerful and creative although he was unable to speak or to move any part of his body other than his index finger. With it and the aid of a specially-constructed machine, he tapped out communications which his wife transcribed. In this fashion he carried on his Jewish literary as well as educational activities and, together with Martin Buber, produced the most important Jewish Bible translation to appear in the German language.

The Frankfurt meeting also commemorated the 150th anniversary of the “Philantropin” Jewish high school, in which many thousands of boys and girls received a modern education until it was closed by the Nazis in 1941. One of its headmasters was Hermann Baerwald, whose son, Paul, is honorary chairman of the Joint Distribution Committee, and held its active chairmanship in two World Wars.

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