The beginning of the end of German Jewry


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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 (Wroclaw), 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.

Christiane Bauer

Categorie(s): emigration | religious life | scholars
Fritz Pinkuss‘s rabbinical certificate dated 2 July 1931, authorized transcript in German, Heidelberg, 29 October 1933
Gift of Michael Ludwig Pinkuss

Hattarat Hora‘ah

After successfully completing his rabbinical examinations, Fritz Pinkuss received not only the certificate but also his Hattarat Hora‘ah, the diploma ordaining him as a rabbi. It is signed only by his professor of Talmud, the renowned scholar Dr. Chanoch Albeck.

As a district rabbi in Heidelberg, Fritz Pinkuss could certify the diploma transcript himself.

Rabbinical diploma (Hattarat Hora‘ah) issued to Fritz Pinkuss on 6 January 1932, authorized transcript in Hebrew, Heidelberg, 29 October 1933
Gift of Michael Ludwig Pinkuss