Today in Jewish History - September 26 / Tishrei 20
1729 September 26, - 1786 MOSES MENDELSSOHN (Dessau, Germany)
Courtesy of The Jewish Encyclopedia
Born into an orthodox Jewish family, he was influenced by Rabbi David Hershel Frankel, whose knowledge of philosophy and Talmud was vast. At fourteen, he left on foot for Berlin, together with Frankel. There he met Gotthold Lessing, who introduced him to German literature and helped him publish his philosophical Dialogues. In 1783, Mendelssohn and his pupil, Naphtali Wessely, translated the Pentateuch into German. He served as the subject of Lessing's play Nathan the Wise and was the founder of Ha Me'assef, a Hebrew magazine. Believing in Jewish-Christian friendship, he tried to awaken secular interests in his fellow Jews and make them less alien to the Christian world. This backfired, as many of his own grandchildren converted to Christianity.