With the growth of the Hungarian Jewish community in the 18th century, Rabbis from both Germany and Poland took up positions in the burgeoning communities. With the changing times, each generation of Rabbinical leadership experienced successive spurts of growth as well as the challenges of the modern era. The Hungarian story presents a unique set of challenges as they developed in this region, with the legacy of the Chasam Sofer’s Orthodoxy, the growth of the Chassidim and the eventual dominance of the less traditional Neolog community in Hungarian Jewish life.
One of the important Rabbinic dynasties of that era was that of the Levv family. From Rav Elozor Levv (1758-1837), known by the sefer he authored Shemen Rokeach, through several generations of his descendants, they came to represent the vicissitudes of the time period. Rav Yirmiyahu Levv (1811-1874) was one of the leading Hungarian Rabbis of the 19th century. Confronting both the growing Chassidic community in Hungary, as well as the threat to Orthodoxy posed by the Neologs, he eventually led the faction of Hungarian Jewry known as the “Status Quo” communities. By focusing on these specific individuals, it can serve as a prism for relating the story of the entire community.
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