||A rare but important essay by the scholarly and traditional but progressive Dr. Leopold Lucas. Mitteilungen auf Grund neuer Forschngen über die Religionen, essays on religion in ten chapters includes a preface, the history of the Moisaic time, the moral ethical character of Judaismm, the ethics of Judaism and Christianity, the nature of positive religion and others.
Leopold Lucas was born on 18 September 1872 in Marburg and had a longstanding connection with Wissenschaft des Judentums. His great uncle was the famous philosopher of religion, Salomon Ludwig Steinheim, and familial ties existed to Heinrich Heine. After his Abitur in Marburg in 1892, Lucas took up the study of oriental languages, history and philosophy at the Universities of Berlin and Tübingen, completing a dissertation in 1895 entitled Die Geschichte der Stadt Tyrus zur Zeit der Kreuzzüge (‘The History of the City of Tyre at the Time of the Crusades’). Simultaneously, he studied at the Lehranstalt, where he received his rabbinical ordination in 1898. In 1899 Rabbi Lucas left Berlin to take his position as Rabbi of Glogau in Silesia, becoming the successor of Rabbi Benjamin Rippner (1842-1898). At this time the Jewish community of Glogau numbered 863 persons, among a population of 20,000 inhabitants. It was here that he and his wife brought up their family. Rabbi Lucas’ strong identification with his community manifested itself, when he turned down the far more prestigious position as Rabbi of Magdeburg. He remained the spiritual leader of Glogau’s Jewry until its destruction by the Nazis. Rabbi Lucas is remembered as a highly gifted cleric, and his religious orientation can best be described as conservative-liberal. He combined a traditional religious lifestyle, exemplified by organizing daily synagogue services, keeping a kosher household and respecting the restrictions on the Sabbath day, with progressive views of an ever-evolving Judaism. His views are evident in his rabbinical inauguration sermon, where he portrays the essence of Judaism as consisting of three basic elements: belief in God, ethical law (‘Sittengesetz’) and historical development. These three components must interact harmoniously, none of them having precedence over any of the others. Rabbi Lucas’ tolerant and deeply humanistic world view becomes apparent when he envisions ‘the day when all legitimate parties will unify to create a peaceful state, and Israel, hand in hand with all true religion, will eradicate wrongdoing from the face of the earth.’ He showed great compassion for the numerous unbelievers of the time, whom he did not hold responsible for their scepticism. He held that their condition was the fault of modem society, lamenting that in the process of acculturation the unity of the Jewish people had been destroyed. He regarded as a solemn duty the recreation of this harmonious state which he was so sure had once existed. Lucas worked to create unity between all religious factions, showing remarkable concern and acceptance for all. He promised his community that he would teach a self-confident, non-apologetic theology which would not make concessions either to natural science or to philosophy. Rabbi Lucas gave frequent lectures for the benefit of the general public which were directed towards enlightening and improving Jewish-Gentile relations. This preoccupation mirrored his personal interest in the history of early Christian-Jewish relations. In 1910 he published Zur Geschichte der Juden im vierten Jahrhundert. This important study focused on the period in which Christianity had become the official state religion of the Holy Roman Empire and was redefining its position towards Judaism. In addition to his numerous lectures and discussion forums, Lucas published S. L. Steinheim’s manuscript Moses and Michelangelo (1899), Die Wissenschaft des Judentums und die Wege zu ihrer Förderung (1906), Mitteilungen auf Grund neuerer Forschungen über die Religionen (1920) and numerous scholarly book reviews. In 1911 he was elected a member of the Byzantinische Gesellschaft in Athens. During his early years in Glogau, Rabbi Lucas never lost sight of the goal of creating an organization to systematize and strengthen Wissenschaft des Judentums. From May 1902 onwards he renewed his efforts to find support for a new organization. At that time Martin Philippson, the chairman of the Deutsch-Israelitischer Gemeindebund, the largest German-Jewish establishment, became enthusiastic about the idea and offered his support. His endorsement was the turning point for public interest in Lucas’ project. It had been suggested that greater support for existing institutions, like the Lehranstalt, would make a need for this new initiative obsolete. But Rabbi Lucas argued for a truly independent scientific forum, unfettered by one single institution, and with a broad range of contributors from across the German-speaking Jewish world. A first appeal, sent out by Rabbi Lucas, was met with interest, but also with resolute opposition from the Jewish scholarly establisbment. Rabbi Lucas criticized the state of Wissenschaft des Judentums, thereby minimizing the achievements of the existing seminars and offending their supporters. Nevertheless, the idea did spark sufficient interest for a new appeal to be drafted by Rabbi Lucas in collaboration with Hermann Cohen. This second document was circulated and signed by the leading protagonists of Wissenschaft des Judentums in the German-speaking countries, and on 2 November 1902 the Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaft des Judentums was founded in Berlin. In his introductory speech on the occasion of the founding of the Gesellschaft, Rabbi Lucas explained the objectives of the new organization. He castigated the ‘lamentable backwardness’ (‘beklagenswerte Rückständigkeit’) of Jewish scholarship in general, which he found to be often uncritical and uncoordinated. Although the Jewish world was blessed with gifted scholars, there was an indisputable need for an institution to centralize their research. In the light of the large number of theologians who were ‘erecting entire systems against Judaism’ and influencing public opinion, only a systematic and concerted effort on the part of the Jewish scholars could resist this challenge. Their major weakness was precisely that any plan or system was ... unnoticeable’. Research being done at the time was far too detailed, and had lost both the interest of Jews and its connection to real-life Judaism. It was vital to reconnect Jewish Studies with the Jewish community and bring about a trend in scientific research which would make it accessible to everyone. If this was not an option at German universities, where Jewish Studies was still not a recognized discipline, the Jews themselves would have to make it possible through the establishment of their own institution.
Lucas died in died in the concentration camp in Theresienstadt. In his honor, his son, Franz Lucas, established one of the world's most significant peace prizes, the Dr. Leopold Lucas Prize, is awarded to individuals who have contributed to international understanding, to the dialogue among religions and to the spread of the idea of tolerance. The selection of the award winner was entrusted to the University of Tübingen because Dr. Lucas obtained his doctorate there in 1895. Recipients of the award to date have been Schalom Ben Chorin and Karl Popper, as well as for Karl Rahner, Annemarie Schimmel and the Dalai Lama.