Tuesday, June 23, 2015

An unrecorded scathing criticism of Louis Ginzberg from 1902

Well, I think it hasn't been called attention to before.

This appeared in the American Israelite on October 16, 1902. The author is the incredibly colorful figure Adolphe Danziger, who repeatedly calls Louis Ginzberg "Dovka" - although I had not previously known of this nickname, or that, or if, he perhaps had the name Dov in addition to Levi. There can be no doubt to whom he refers. (Maybe Danziger was simply giving him a typical eastern European nickname as a sort of slur designed to cut a Doktor down to size; maybe, but doubtfully, he means "דוקא"; so if anyone can clarify the name issue, please do so.) 

As you can see, in addition to the proverbial ham sandwich, he practically accuses Ginzberg of having converted to Christianity in the way he references what I assume must be the topic of his doctoral dissertation (Die Haggadah bei den Kirchenvätern). He does allow, however, that Ginzberg knows more than Schechter and all the professors at the JTS put together!

Here is the rest of the text, referring to material printed in the Jewish Exponent attacking Ginzberg (click to enlarge):


  1. At one point he calls him "Dr. David Ginsburg"

  2. Louis Ginzberg's starting date at JTS is sometimes given as 1902 and other times as 1903 (Wikipedia has both!). My search for a David Ginzberg or Ginsberg or Ginsburg turned up nothing useful. The only reason I can think of for Danziger's use of the names "David" and "Dovka" for Louis is that maybe he was sarcastically seeking to identify him with the meshumad scholar Christian David Ginsburg (who never taught at JTS). But given Danziger's own sketchy career, perhaps he should not have been casting the first stone.

  3. Really love the site. Great to see some new posts!

  4. Joe in Australia1:22 AM, June 25, 2015

    Yes, I find the *Christian* David Ginsburg explanation the most likely one: he's snidely pretending to find some confusion between them.

  5. I also think it's a deliberate conflation with david ginsburg. Re chilul shabbos my recollection is that Ginzberg himself writes (or perhaps his son quotes him as saying?)how embarrassed he was when his father came to visit him and he was carrying money on shabbos



Related Posts with Thumbnails