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Fanny Neuda

1819 – 1894

by Bettina Kratz-Ritter

Although her prayer book for women, Stunden der Andacht (Hours of Devotion), first published in 1855, remained popular and widely-used until the middle of the twentieth century, little is known about its author, Fanny Neuda. Born in Eibenschitz, Moravia on March 6, 1819, Neuda was a member of a rabbinic family. Both her father and her brother, Abraham Adolf Schmiedl, were rabbis and she remained true to family tradition by choosing to marry Abraham Neuda (b. 1812), a religiously liberal and widely educated man who served as rabbi in Loschitz, Moravia. Abraham was himself the son of Rabbi Aaron Neuda of Loschitz and the nephew of Rabbi Jacob Neuda of Lomnitz, Moravia. When he died in 1854 at the early age of forty-two, his young widow “erected a monument of living memories”: her collection of personal prayers in book form, entitled Stunden der Andacht (Hours of Prayer) and subtitled A Book of Prayer and Moral Uplift for Jewish Women and Girls, for use in personal and domestic prayer, as well as for all occasions in women’s lives (Prague, 1855).

A best-seller that ran into twenty-eight editions, it soon became the standard women’s prayer book of its time. This is all the more remarkable because at the time of its publication in 1855 there already existed numerous examples of this form of literature, which had first appeared on the market at the beginning of the century. But in contrast to the earlier works, which were mainly composed by men, Fanny Neuda’s Stunden der Andacht was probably the first prayer book for Jewish women in the nineteenth century written by a woman. The sale record indicates the fulfillment of Fanny Neuda’s hope that her prayer texts, “the fruits of a woman’s heart,” would “find an echo in the hearts of women.”

Apart from being composed in a particularly fervent and intimate style of prayer, the texts are characterized by a conservative theology and a middle-class morality typical of the time. Thus Fanny Neuda recommends that in bringing up Jewish girls the moral qualities of the German classics should be applied, as well as the deliberate encouragement of innate female religiosity; they should strive for “ennoblement of the heart, enhancement and strengthening of religious feeling.”

Encouraged by her success, Fanny Neuda pursued her activities as an author, publishing stories that present the world and lives of Jewish women, always with a similar educational message of edification. She died in Merano, in the Italian Alps, on April 16, 1894.

SELECTED WORKS BY FANNY NEUDA

Stunden der Andacht. Prague: 1855; Naomi (stories). Prague, Leipzig: 1867; Jugend-Erzählungen aus dem israelitischen Familienleben (Stories of Jewish Family Life). Prague: 1867, 1890.

Lexikon Jüdische Frauen. Edited by Jutta Dick and Marina Sassenberg.

Bibliography

Dinah Berland, editor. Hours of Devotion: Fanny Neuda's Book of Prayers for Jewish Women. New York: Schocken Books, 2007.

More on: Prayer, Writing
More on Fanny Neuda
5 Comments

"Hours of Devotion" has been part of my soul's transformation since I started my daily prayer. I am extremely grateful for Fanny Neuda inspirational prayers and to Dinah Berland for bringing them alive. It is an Honor to have this book with me at all times. I would love to meet Dinah Berland one of these days, God willing.

Shalom,
Claudia (Maayan)

My childhood memory of my maternal grandmother, Thekla Bechhof, who had to leave her German birthplace and home in 1937, is of her praying from Fanny Neuda's Stunden der Andacht. She kept the slim black volume in the chair in which she sat daily. No doubt she'd brought it with her during those difficult turbulent times. I remember being told: "sie betet Neuda"!

It was lovely to reconnect to this memory through a very informative presentation by Dinah Berland in Saratoga Springs, NY recently.

My Grandmother Fannie Bruckmann born in 1889 had a Jewish Grandfather who was born in Lostice in 1800, because of this connection I believe that my Grandmother was named after Fanny Neuda.

I'm happy to announce that the Open Siddur Project has completed its crowdsourced proofreading of our transcription of Stunden Der Andacht's 1858 edition resulting in a new digital edition of Fanny Neuda's important work. We hope that by releasing this new digital edition to the world with a Creative Commons Zero (CC0) Public Domain dedication, we will encourage publishers of new Siddurim to incorporate Neuda's tkhinot in their original language, side-by-side with new translations. Please feel free to adapt, remix, and redistribute this new digital edition of Stunden Der Andacht and share your improvements with a Creative Commons Attribution or Attribution/ShareAlike license.

The foundation Respect and Tolerance in the Czech Republic, which is dedicated to preserving the Jewish history of the Lostice area, where Fanny Neuda lived and worked, has recently come out with the first Czech edition of her prayer book. Here's the link: http://www.respectandtolerance...

Cover of "Stunden der Andacht" ("Hours of Devotion")
Full image

The cover of Stunden der Andacht (Hours of Devotion).

How to cite this page

Kratz-Ritter, Bettina. "Fanny Neuda." Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. 1 March 2009. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on June 29, 2017) <https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/neuda-fanny>.

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