Home page The Key of David Jews in the Civil War Jews in the Wild West History of Palestine The Occident Virtual Library


The Key of David

By Warder Cresson (Michael Boaz Israel ben Abraham).

Warder Cresson

Warder Cresson (1799-1860), or Michael Boaz Israel ben-Avraham, belonged to a prominent Philadelphia Quaker family. His polemical autobiography, THE KEY OF DAVID, describes his conversion to Judaism in 1844 and gives his reason for doing so. A proto-Zionist and messianic visionary, Warder Cresson spent the last years of his life in Jerusalem.

Cresson's conversion to "ultra-Orthodox" Judaism was considered so eccentric and bizarre that his non-Jewish family had him brought up on charges of insanity. Cresson was aquitted at his trial in Philadelphia and returned to Palestine. In Jerusalem, he married a Sephardic woman, Rachel Moledano, and had two children, David Benzion, and Abigail Ruth. While there are non-Jewish descendants of the Cresson family (from his first wife, Elizabeth), it is not known if there are any Jewish descendants.

THE KEY OF DAVID, offered here on this site, was written at a time when the author was suffering from considerable persecution for his religious views, and therefore contains a much harsher description of Christianity, the author's native religion, than JEWS AND THE MOSAIC LAW, although both works represent the same belief system. THE KEY OF DAVID is important for its cultural and historical significance and its glimpse into the soul of a wanderer.

Biographical information about Warder Cresson can be found in Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, "Quaker, Shaker, Rabbi: Warder Cresson, The Story of a Philadelphia Mystic" by Frank Fox, April 1971, p.147-193.

Previous Chapter Next Chapter