German-Jewish history is incomplete without attention to its internal dimension, which focuses, in particular, on the Jewishness of the Jews rather than on their relationship to the world around them. Although in the course of the modern period, the internal sphere is reduced in relation to the external, it remains significant for understanding the continuation and adaptation of communal institutions and personal identities. Moreover, the boundary between external and internal becomes ever more permeable so that, for example, expressions of Jewishness become universal in the objectives they seek while values internalized from the outside become »typically« Jewish.
This essay focuses upon Rabbi Manuel Joël, stressing for the first time his unusual position between the Positive-Historical and the Liberal movements within German Judaism. His stance produced controversy both with the Liberal Rabbi Abraham Geiger, his predecessor in the Breslau rabbinate, and Heinrich Graetz, his teacher at the Positive-Historical Breslau Theological Seminary. Points of dispute included Joël’s prayer book and his participation in the Liberal Leipzig Synod of 1869. Yet controversy eventually gave way to reconciliation and Joël could ultimately enjoy the respect of both factions.