By: Gotthard Deutsch
German journalist and communal worker; born Aug., 1788; died in Cassel Dec. 8, 1861. He was the son of Salomon (1757-1837), a miniature-painter who had received special privileges exempting him from some of the Jewish disabilities (comp. "Sulamith," viii. 406), and had been granted the title of court painter to the Elector of Hesse-Cassel. Jacob Pinhas prepared to follow his father's calling; but the events of the Napoleonic era caused him to abandon the vocation of an artist for that of a journalist. When Cassel became the seat of the kingdom of Westphalia, the "Moniteur,"' its official organ, was published there, and Pinhas, being conversant with both German and French, was appointed a member of its editorial staff. After the battle of Waterloo he obtained from the elector license to publish the "Kassel'sche Allgemeine Zeitung," which he continued to edit till his death. He advocated it constitutional form of government, and although this was considered revolutionary, his moderation and his honesty gained for him the confidence of the government, which always sought his advice on Jewish matters. For his literary merits the University of Marburg in 1817 bestowed on him the degree of Ph.D.
When, in 1821, the Jewish congregations of Hesse-Cassel received a new organization, being divided into four territories, Pinhas was appointed head of the "Vorsteheramt" of Niederhessen. As such he was instrumental in drawing up the law of Dec. 23, 1823, on the organization of the Jews, and in establishing the normal school of Cassel. When, later on, the "Landesrabbinat" was organized, Pinhas was made its "secular member." He was instrumental also in the drafting of the law of Oct. 31, 1833, which gave full citizenship to such Jews as were willing to abandon petty trading. This law was the first of its kind in Germany; but it remained to a great extent a dead letter owing to the reactionary policy of the government authorities.
The year 1848 brought upon Pinhas all the unpopularity which was the lot of those known to be sympathizers with the government, even when, like Pinhas, they had always defended moderately liberal principles. During the period of reaction following the abrogation of the constitution in 1852, even Pinhas' enemies acknowledged the far-sightedness of the man whom they had bitterly opposed; and it was due to his influence that the reaction did not go as far as had been demanded.
Of Pinhas' literary works, two volumes of the "Archives Diplomatiques Générales des Années 1848 et Suivantes" (Göttingen, 1854-55), which he published conjointly with Carl Murhard, deserve mention.
- Allg. Zeit. des Jud. 1862, No. 2.