A History Of Heinrich Brody

by Kosher River Cruise Kosher Tour Operator
Henrik_BródyDr. Heinrich Chajim Brody was a rabbi in Hungary and Czechoslovakia at the cusp of the 19th and 20th centuries. He was the last chief rabbi of Prague before the Holocaust. He was a scholar of Hebrew medieval poetry. Between 1898 and 1905, he also served as a rabbi of the conservative kehila in Náchod, Bohemia.

Brody was born in Ungvár (Užhorod) on 21st May 1868. Ungvár was part of the Kingdom of Hungary, later Czechoslovakia, and then the Soviet Union. Today it is part of Western Ukraine. 

During his bris he got his Hebrew name חיים בן שלמה, “Chajim ben Shlomo“. His father was also a rabbi and was a descendant of Abraham Broda, a renowned Talmudic scholar of 17th century in Prague. His maternal grandfather was the famous Talmudist and Posek Shlomo Ganzfried of Ungvár, author of the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch. Brody’s father was the rabbinical judge Shlomo Zalman Brody (1835-1917). Brody married Esther Ehrenfeld in 1899,. She was the daughter of Dr. Nathan Ehrenfeld, the chief rabbi of Prague at the time.

Brody was studied in the public schools of his native town and at the rabbinical colleges of Tolcsva and Pressburg (Bratislava). He also studied at the Hildesheimer Theological Seminary and at the University of Berlin, where he received his doctorate in 1894. He was an enthusiastic scholar of the Hebrew language and literature, an interest that later evolved into a life-long passion. 

Brody became the secretary of the literary society Mekiẓe Nirdamim for a short time. In 1896, he founded his own "Zeitschrift für Hebräische Bibliographie" (“Magazine for Hebrew Bibliography“). He was a co-editor together with Abraham Freiman.

In 1898, Brody became the rabbi of the conservative congregation of Náchod, Bohemia. He stayed active for seven years until the middle of 1905. When he was offered to become the chief rabbi of Prague after his predecessor – and father in law – Dr. Nathan Ehrenefeld, he agreed and moved to his new community.


His position must have been a difficult one since the vast majority of the Jews in Prague of that time adhered to reform Judaism. Nonethelss, Brody maintained a strong adherence to Orthodox Judaism and further fortified a relatively small (approximately one thousand out of more than 60,000) but true and stable core of the orthodox minyan of Prague, concentrated around the Alt-Neu Shul. 

He also became a natural leader of the Mizrahi movement of Prague and, later also the president of the Sinai Organization for Conservative Judaism. “Conservative“ in the 1900s meant “conservative against reform Judaism“, what nowadays we consider as “modern orthodox“. 

Brody, aside of being a rabbi, also taught Jewish children at the famous Talmud-Thora School in Jáchymova Street at Josefov between 1905 and 1930. In 1930, he moved to Berlin where he was active as a Judaic scholar, eventually managing to move to Palestine after Hitler seized power in Germany, settling in Jerusalem in 1934. He died in 1942 and is buried alongside his wife at the Mount of Olives.

Though he was not buried in Prague, his legacy has helped contribute to the Jewish community there, which one can see when they go on kosher tours around the city.

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Created on Jan 22nd 2018 03:48. Viewed 142 times.


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