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RIESSER, LAZARUS JACOB:

German rabbi, born 1763 in the valley of Riess (hence the name "Riesser"); died March 7, 1828, at Hamburg; father of Gabriel Riesser. In the "Zeker Ẓaddiḳ" Riesser calls himself "Eliezer, son of Jacob Katzenellenbogen," rabbi of Öttingen-Wallerstein. Owing to his great erudition as a Talmudist and his keen intellect Riesser was chosen as son-in-law by Raphael b. Jekuthiel Süsskind ha-Kohen, the incumbent of the rabbinate of Altona-Hamburg-Wandsbeck. He resided in Altona, where he held the office of secretary to the bet din. His Hebrew style may be designated as classic.

When, owing to disagreements with the Danish government, Kohen resigned his post (1799), Riesser lost his office and went with his father-in-law to Hamburg. There he entered business life, meeting with little success. In his leisure hours he wrote the biography of his father-in-law in elegant Hebrew, under the title "Ma'alele Ish"; this, together with two sermons by Raphael Kohen, was published under the title "Zeker Ẓaddiḳ" (Altona, 1805). When, in 1813, Hamburg was blockaded by the Russians Riesser removed to Lübeck. Riesser went back to Hamburg in 1816.

Riesser's correspondence with his son Gabriel, comprising twenty letters covering the period from May 7, 1824, to Feb. 22, 1828, have been published by Isler in "Gabriel Riesser's Leben," i. 36-61. The Heimann I. Michael collection, now in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, contains some manuscripts by Riesser.

Bibliography:
  • Isler, Gabriel Riesser's Leben, in vol. i. of Gesammelte Schriften, Leipsic and Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1867;
  • Geiger's Jüd. Zeit. vii. 232;
  • Zeker Ẓaddiḳ, Altona, 1805.
S. E. Schr.
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