Leopold Zunz

Leopold or Lipman Zunz (10th August 1794 – 17th March 1886) was the Jewish inventor of ‘Judaic Studies’ as an academic subject. Zunz was born at Detmold, the son of Talmud scholar Immanuel Menachem Zunz (1759-1802) and Hendel Behrens (1773-1809), the daughter of Dov Beer, an assistant cantor of the Detmold community. The year following his birth his family moved to Hamburg, where, as a young boy, he began learning Hebrew grammar, the Pentateuch, and the Talmud. Politically motivated, in 1819 alongside Jews Joel Abraham List, Issac Marcus Jost, and Eduard Gans Zunz constructed the Verein für Kultur und Wissenschaft der Juden (The Society for the Culture and Science of the Jews) in Berlin in 1819 and in 1823 became the editor of the Zeitschrift für die Wissenschaft des Judenthums (Journal for the Science of Judaism) in order to insert ‘Jewish’ into the European field of study. However, it was Moritz Steinschneider that accentuated this by inserting the Jews into the general history of Caucasian civilization. In 1848 Zunz addressed many public meetings. He died in Berlin in 1886.

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