29 October 1933
Transcript of Fritz Pinkuss’s rabbinical certificate
Fritz Pinkuss (1905–1994) had been studying for six years when, on 2 July 1931, he passed his rabbinical examinations at the College for the Science of Judaism in Berlin. He first studied Jewish theology in Breslau (Wrocław), then earned his doctorate at the University of Würzburg before registering at the College in Berlin. It was at this “independent teaching institution dedicated to preserving, developing, and disseminating the science of Judaism” that he trained to be a rabbi.
His certificate, signed by renowned Jewish scholars including Leo Baeck and Ismar Elbogen, records this career, lists the titles of his final theses, and discharges him with “best blessings” for the future. Pinkuss was now qualified to work as a “rabbi, preacher, and religious instructor.” He went to Heidelberg and took the place of his uncle Hermann Pinkuss as rabbi in the city’s Jewish community.
In October 1933, Fritz Pinkuss, in his capacity as president of the community, issued himself with a certified copy of this testimonial and other documents. Convinced that the very existence of German Jewry was threatened by the Nazis, Pinkuss was probably already thinking about leaving Germany. By October 1934 he had made contact with the Jewish community in São Paulo, Brazil.
Fritz Pinkuss’s papers also include a Portuguese translation of the originally German certificate. The translation was made in 1936, the year that Fritz Pinkuss immigrated to Brazil with his wife Lotte Selma Pinkuss, née Sternfels, and their one-year-old son Michael Ludwig. He found a position as a rabbi, and built up the liberal German-Jewish community in São Paulo as the city’s chief rabbi. Pinkuss later established the Center for Jewish Studies at São Paulo University.
COLLEGE FOR THE SCIENCE OF JUDAISM, BERLIN
Dr. Fritz Pinkuss, born on 13 May 1905 in Egeln, Magdeburg, after earning his certificate of eligibility for university studies at the high school in Magdeburg, studied at the Jewish Theological Seminary in Breslau from April 1925 to July 1928 and at the College for the Science of Judaism, Berlin, from August 1928 to January 1931. For a total of twelve semesters he applied himself to the study of Jewish theology, took an active part in lectures and tutorials, and acquired extensive knowledge in the various fields of the science of Judaism.
Through his practice sermons, he also demonstrated his proficiency as a pulpit orator.
After completing his theological studies, he registered for the rabbinical examinations at our College. Of his written theses, one, entitled “Saul Ascher, a Little-Known Theorist of Judaism and of Jewish Emancipation,” was awarded the grade “good,” the other, entitled “Marriages Prohibited by Religious Law,” was awarded the grade “satisfactory.”
The final oral examination by the faculty listed below took place on 2 July 1931.
The examiners were:
Dr. H. Torczyner: Linguistics and Bible studies,
Rabbi Dr. L. Baeck: History of religion, homiletics, and methodology of Jewish religious instruction,
Prof. Dr. J. Elbogen: Jewish history and literature,
Prof. Dr. J. Guttmann: Philosophy of religion,
Dr. Ch. Albeck: Talmud studies.
The overall result of the examination was “good.”
On the basis of this examination, Dr. Fritz Pinkuss is, by virtue of this certificate, authorized to work as a
RABBI, PREACHER, AND RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTOR.
At the same time he is issued with a
by the instructor in Talmudic disciplines, Dr. Albeck, also signing below.
This we testify with our signatures and by affixing the official seal.
Our institution releases Dr. Fritz Pinkuss from his studies with our best blessings.
May he work successfully in the congregation of Israel for the honor of God and the good of humanity and always champion the cause of Judaism with faithfulness and zeal.
May he also continue to develop the scholarly gifts that he has already demonstrated, and contribute to the enrichment of the science of Judaism!
Berlin, 2 July 1931
FACULTY of the COLLEGE FOR THE SCIENCE OF JUDAISM.
For this transcript’s conformity with the original certificate,
(signature, Fritz Pinkuss)
Heidelberg, 29 October 1933