Zeitschrift für Geschichte und Kultur der Juden
[Aschkenas: A Journal of Jewish History and Culture]
Ed. by Horch, Hans Otto / Jütte, Robert / Rürup, Miriam / Wenninger, Markus J.
By analyzing data from different archives for the first time the paper provides an account of the conflict regarding the imitation of Protestant cassocks by Jewish rabbis in 19th century Bavaria. The author compares the motives of both the rabbis and the representatives of the Protestant church and examines the role played by the state authorities in the conflict. Five very liberal rabbis in Franconia chose a robe similar to the Protestant cassock in use at the time, a decision that was inspired by their aspirations for acculturation and their claim for equality both as citizens and as a religious community. They wanted to make their aims visible by choosing modern work cassocks that the general public would consider dignified. The representatives of the Protestant regional church, however, wanted to protect their own identity as a privileged religious community that was superior to Jews. The particular denomination played a decisive part in the way the dispute developed: Moderately liberal rabbis living in a Catholic area accepted the Munich rabbinic cassock which had been approved by the state of Bavaria and which resembled the catholic soutane.