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Neuda, Abraham

(1812–1854), rabbi and religious reformer. Abraham Neuda was born in Loštice (Ger., Loschitz) in the Habsburg province of Moravia. The only son of Aron Moses Neuda, rabbi of Loštice, Abraham attended yeshiva in Mikulov (Nikolsburg), where he studied under Moravian chief rabbi Neḥemyah Trebitsch. While there, Neuda secretly pursued secular “German” subjects with his fellow students.

When Neuda’s father became ill in 1835, the Loštice Jewish community—numbering perhaps 400—selected Abraham as his successor without seeking Trebitsch’s approval. Trebitsch vehemently opposed this appointment, not only because his own authority had been circumvented but also because Neuda had adopted certain Reform practices, such as delivering sermons in German in Loštice’s synagogue. (Some of these sermons were published in Masa’ devar Adonai; 1845.) In the face of Trebitsch’s adamant refusal to examine Neuda—a prerequisite for becoming rabbi of a community in Moravia—the latter appealed to the provincial government, which forced Trebitsch’s hand. Neuda also benefited from the support of the prominent Vienna preacher Isaak Noah Mannheimer. On 18 May 1841, Neuda was examined by a committee of three rabbis (Trebitsch, Yosef Feilbogen, and Tsevi Hirsh Fassel) and one Catholic priest (Ferdinand Paschab). Much to Trebitsch’s chagrin, Neuda passed this scrutiny and served as rabbi of Loštice until his untimely death in 1854. Soon thereafter, the government abrogated Trebitsch’s right to appoint rabbis.

Neuda supported other moderate religious reforms, including organ accompaniment during Sabbath worship and moving the bimah (reading platform) to the front of the synagogue. (His responsum, solicited by the Jewish community of Pápa, Hungary, was published in Zulässigkeit und Dringlichkeit der Synagogen-Reformen; 1845.)

Neuda was married to Fanny Schmiedl (1819–1894), daughter of Rabbi Juda Schmiedl. She was the author of short stories and a prayer book for women.

Suggested Reading

Michael Brocke, Julius Carlebach, and Carsten Wilke, eds., “Neuda, Abraham,” in Biographisches Handbuch der Rabbiner, pt. 1, Die Rabbiner der Emanzipationszeit in den deutschen, böhmischen und grosspolnischen Ländern, 1781–1871, vol. 2, p. 682 (Munich, 2004).