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Solomon Schechter

Rabbi Solomon Schechter was the second President of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (1902 to 1915) and founder and President of the United Synagogue of America[?]. Under his leadership the Seminary obtained a distinguished faculty, and a dynamic momentum.

His greatest academic fame came from his study of the Cairo genizah, an extraordinary archive of ancient Jewish texts that were preserved in an Egyptian synagogue. The find revolutionized the study of Medieval Judaism.

Solomon Schechter emphasized the centrality of Jewish law (halakha) in Jewish life in a speech in his inaugural address as President of the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1902:

"Judaism is not a religion which does not oppose itself to anything in particular. Judaism is opposed to any number of things and says distinctly "thou shalt not." It permeates the whole of your life. It demands control over all of your actions, and interferes even with your menu. It sanctifies the seasons, and regulates your history, both in the past and in the future. Above all, it teaches that disobedience is the strength of sin. It insists upon the observance of both the spirit and of the letter; spirit without letter belongs to the species known to the mystics as "nude souls" nishmatim artilain, wandering about in the universe without balance and without consistency....In a word, Judaism is absolutely incompatible with the abandonment of the Torah."

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