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Scholar and founder of American Conservative Judaism. Born in Romania, he studied in Vienna and Berlin and eventually came to England. There, the wealth of Hebrew manuscripts at the British Museum in London and at the Bodleian Library of Oxford absorbed him for years. He taught at Cambridge University, where he was elected Reader in Rabbinics. He became Professor of Hebrew at the University College of London in 1899. In 1896, Schechter came upon a large part of the original Hebrew of the Book of Ben Sira; this discovery led him to visit the Cairo Genizah, a literary “cemetery” for wornout sacred books and manuscripts. He investigated the many thousands of fragments in the Genizah, brought them back to Cambridge, and spent years sorting and studying this great scholarly treasure. The writings he published as a result of these studies brought him worldwide fame among scholars. In 1902, Schechter came to the U.S. to serve as president of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. During his presidency he reorganized the Seminary and enlarged its scope. His essays, particularly the three-volume Studies in Judaism, were widely read.

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