|Vol. VII, No. 8
Marcheshvan 5610, November 1849
Changes in Ministers.—There have been at the late autumnal elections many changes in the ministers through the country. The Rev. B. Gotthelf, late of the congregation Kenesseth Israel of Philadelphia, has been elected at Louisville, Kentucky, for one year, as Hazan, teacher and lecturer, with the handsome salary of $1200 per annum, from which sum, however, he is to pay himself an. assistant teacher; he has, at the same time, a promise that an addition will be made to his income in case he gives satisfaction. His place in Philadelphia has been supplied by the Rev. Mr. Sternheimer, who lately arrived here from Germany. The Rev. J. K. Gutheim, having some time since signified his intention of withdrawing from the Congregation Bnai Jeshurun, of Cincinnati, the Rev. H. A. Henry, late of London, has chosen in his place. It is with real regret that we have learned Mr. Gutheim’s determination of withdrawing from the ministry, and devoting himself to another pursuit. He has, as our readers also know, the elements of a good speaker; he has zeal for the cause of Israel, and in brief, such qualities, that his place will not be easily supplied, especially as we have so few who can deliver English sermons, without which qualification, we think no minister should any more be elected, <<425>>if the congregations mean at all to uphold the dignity of religion, and assume a position equal to the Christian communities through the land. We hope, therefore, that Mr. G.’s retirement from the service of the Synagogue, may not be a final one. Mr. Henry, at the same time, comes with a high reputation, and we trust that he will prove a useful guide to his new flock. As our correspondent W. has already stated in an article on Albany, Mr. Isidore Kalish has been elected for Cleveland, Ohio. We look on him as a useful accession to our ministry, and he cannot fail of being serviceable, if he at all comes up to the standard of excellence which our learned correspondent gives of him. Mr. B. M. Emanuel acts as Hazan and Shochet for the Mobile congregation, pro tem. We have not yet heard whether the vacancies in Baltimore, Buffalo, and Boston, have been filled. Both the congregations in New Orleans are yet without ministers; but we hope that these two important bodies may not be long without proper persons to perform for them the duties or religion, and that it such are obtained, they may be so treated by their constituents that they will have no occasion to desire a withdrawal from their position.
Cincinnati.—At the regular annual election of the Congregation Bnai Israel of Cincinnati, the following gentlemen were elected as the officers for the current year: David Mayer, Parnass; Daniel Ullman, Gabah Zedokah; Samuel Bruel, Gabah Beth Haim; J. Seasongood, Treasurer, and Joseph Abraham, Secretary. The Society for the Relief of the Jews in Palestine, is now fully organized, and numbers about one hundred members; the officers are: J. K. Gutheim, President Nathan Maltzer, and Abraham Aub, Vice-Presidents; Hyman Moses, Treasurer, and Joseph Jonas, Secretary. The above officers form the executive board for the collection of the dues, and for transmitting the funds to be distributed among the poor Jews in Palestine indiscriminately, and without the deduction of any commission, save ordinary rates of exchange. The Ladies’ Hebrew Benevolent Society have elected for the ensuing year as Directress, Mrs. Henrietta Wolf; Treasurer, Mrs. Louisa Symmonds, and Secretary, Mrs. Bathsheba Harris.
New York.—We learn that the influx of strangers has been lately so great, that during the holydays, one Synagogue especially, the Shaar Hashamayim, the people that came could not be admitted, and had fairly to stand in the entry to hear the minister, so as to be able to join in the service. It is natural to expect a constant, and perhaps increasing, stream of immigration; and we again impress upon the various men of influence the absolute necessity of forming some sort of union <<426>>through which the scattered elements of greatness may be brought to cooperate for one general good end, and that not each little knot of Jews may be like some fragment of a mighty wreck floating without plan or object upon the surface of the deep. The thing is not of such difficult attainment as some may fancy, and all that is needed, is that each congregation will give its assent, in the first instance, for a meeting to assemble, and then compare their various views, and afterwards carry them out honestly and with a good will. Success, under such circumstances, is certain; and the cause of religion will flourish, and we shall not have to mourn over scenes of disunion which now are occasionally witnessed.
Boston.—We were not aware, until a few days ago, that a Polish congregation under the name of Beth Israel, had been organized in Boston. They consecrated a hall, situated over the Boylston Market, on Friday before Rosh Hashanah, the 14th of September, with the usual ceremonies. The minister’s name is P. Rosendale, a Pole, who was sent thither from New York, about a week previously, and had been but a month in the country, and is reputed to be a gentleman of profound scriptural and scientific knowledge. He is represented as dressing quite in the old Polish style, and as about fifty years of age. His address, in Hebrew, is said to have lasted nearly two hours. He was followed by a Mr. L. Makis, whose name is strange to us; and when he had ended, Mr. J. W. Ezekiel, the President, and formerly a resident of Philadelphia, made some remarks in English, which, to judge from the newspapers sent us, must have made a favourable impression. The congregation, only lately organized, already numbers more than a hundred members, and much credit is given to Mr. Ezekiel for his efficiency in producing this result. We hope to hear more good news from this body, and wish them success.
Jamaica.—On Thursday, September 13th, the Rev. Solomon Jacobs delivered by appointment, a sermon at the Portuguese Synagogue, in Kingston, in aid of the mission of Rabbi Jechiel Cohen, to collect funds for the rebuilding of the Synagogue Beth-El at Jerusalem. The attendance was not large; but those who were present, are represented as giving freely for the furtherance of the object proposed. The paper, from which we copy, adds in conclusion, “We must, however, remark, that we noticed very few of our Christian brethren there, and we must remind them, that the Jews of this community have always evinced great liberality in contributing to the erection of Christian places of worship when called upon.” It shows well for our people when the public <<427>>press can address such a rebuke to its readers, and proves that the liberality of Israelites is not confined to their society alone.
Palestine.—We learn that Sir Moses and Lady Montefiore have returned home from their journey to Palestine a few weeks ago, and that they have spent in deeds of benevolence, about 5000 pounds sterling. We copy from the European Times the subjoined as a proof what can be done with real goodness of heart, when those whom God has blessed with the means, are willing to devote a portion thereof to the improvement and advancement of human happiness; and we hope that some who will see this may be incited to go and do likewise, to the extent their means and opportunities will enable them to act. “Sir Moses Montefiore has founded at Damascus a large hospital, and two primary schools, for indigent Jews, among whom he has also distributed 160,000 Turkish piastres (about 40,000 francs.) The Jews of Damascus, in order to testify their gratitude Sir Moses Montefiore for these acts of benevolence, have bestowed on him the title of Nassi (Prince) of the Israelites of Damascus.”
Europe.—The news relating to our people from abroad, is not worth copying into our magazine, the most being only of a strictly local character, without any interest to persons abroad. But in the midst of the troubles which have lately fallen us in the terrible war in Hungary, where both parties plundered and murdered the Jews, it is something to be grateful for that, as it is said, the Emperor of Austria has remitted the war fines levied on the Jews by his general, Haynau.
Paris.—The collection taken up by the Grand Rabbins of Paris, (Messrs. Ennery and Isidore) in behalf of the sufferers by the cholera, has produced about 7000 francs, the Rothschild family having contributed towards this 2500 francs. A portion of this sum has been employed for the relief of the indigent sick, and the other is destined to be annually distributed among the orphans. The result, obtained through the exertion of the venerable pastors, affords another proof that the most mournful circumstances which are sent to afflict mankind cannot alter, in the hearts of Israelites, the inexhaustible charity which is the most precious stone in their immortal crown.—L’Univers Israelite.
Reconversion to Judaism of a Distinguished Poet.—We have known already for a long time that Henry Heine, the well-known baptized Israelite, who was so celebrated for his wit and unbelief, has again become a Jew, whilst confined to his bed of sickness, and that he only awaits the recovery of his strength to give a public testimony of his return to the Synagogue. But in private affairs, as also in matters of public concern, we have never, in the ten years of the existence of the <<428>>Archives, made an improper use of a conversation, by divulging it in our Magazine; but in the present instance our reserve would be useless, because the Jewish Gazette of the 21st of May, devotes an entire article to the subject. It is thus that a man who once said, “Judaism is no religion, but a misfortune,” finds at the present moment his happiness in Judaism. No sincere Israelite will be astonished at this hopeful conversion, brought about by misfortune and reflection.—Archives Israelites for July.
We wish to add a few words. Heinrich Heine has long enjoyed the reputation of one of the most remarkable men of the age. He has travelled extensively through Europe, and has furnished works both in prose and poetry, which have elicited the admiration of the critics; and as it is now, we regret that the little accession we have to Geman literature, has prevented us from becoming familiar with them. But this is nothing to the matter. Now it was this man, whom the editor of the Archives calls “si spirituel et si incredule,” so witty and so sceptical; who was induced either by some freak or by the absolute certainty that as a Jew he could not rise politically and hardly socially, to embrace Christianity for form’s sake; though we believe that even as an ostensible convert he was anything but a faithful adherent to the doctrines which he had adopted, and ridiculed them, if we understand correctly, in his various works. But now a change, as remarkable as gratifying, has come over him; he no longer doubts, he no more disbelieves, but wishes to live in that holy faith which he once renounced with false lips, which he scorned in the moment of his folly. Well may he bless that sickness which recalled him to himself, and kiss the rod which chastened and corrected him; and if he is yet alive, he no doubt has fulfilled the vow which he made in the hour of distress, for Heine is not the man to shrink from a duty when he once understands his position. One suggestion, however, we must add to the above before we close, and this is respectfully to submit to the conversionists and their victims the absolute folly of making outward converts, or even sincere ones, if you please, of intelligent Jews. Our religion is something so entirely in concert with our nature, that its eradication becomes absolutely impossible; do with the Jew what you please, make him neglect his Sabbath, feed him on the “flesh of the swine, of the creeping thing, and the mouse;” wash him in the waters of baptism; marry him a hundred times to the gentile; bring up his children as ministers of another religion; invest him with all the dignities of another creed; make him a preacher and ruler among the enemies of Israel: and you have nothing before you but a hollow‑hearted hypocrite; he sighs in secret for his Jewish hopes, for his early <<429>>joyous feelings, for his people, for his God; and when he dies, he will surely discard, in his last moments, all the false doctrines which he has been made to avow. We are willing, perfectly so, to let our assertion be subjected to the test of experience; and assuming it, then, as proved, we must ask the persons just spoken of, “What use is there to make people miserable in this life, and jeopardise their happiness hereafter? Does Christianity require such victims? Does its permanence need such sacrifices?” We think not; and hence we again appeal to those who well understand us, to forego their wicked attempts at injuring the house of Israel, seeing that “it cannot prosper,” the Lord of Hosts being with us. It is, at the same time, a matter of rejoicing, that by degrees apostacy is becoming unprofitable, as state after state repeals its exceptional laws; since in addition to most, if not all the states of Germany, Denmark in its new constitution, whilst establishing the Protestant as the religion of the state, does not disqualify any of its citizens who profess another faith; and we venture to say, that, remove the political incentive which has led so many hecatombs to the altars of a strange religion, and you will see that no more will be beguiled, and what is more, that the present religious indifference will gradually yield to a more strict conformity. Let us watch the result, and we do not fear a disappointment.
Dr. M. J. Raphall.—We learned, as we were preparing this number for the press, that the well-known Dr. Raphall, until lately preacher for the Birmingham congregation, and head master of the Hebrew National School of that town, embarked on the 8th of October at Liverpool for this country, and that his arrival may be daily looked for. It is not to be supposed that one who has contributed so greatly to the honour of the Jewish name, could be permitted to leave England without a hearty demonstration of the public gratitude; and it must be truly gratifying to this ardent Israelite, that distant congregations, besides the one so long under his charge, should deeply feel the loss the general community suffers by the voluntary withdrawal of one so highly endowed. We copy from the Jewish Chronicle of September 21st, the following proceedings of the Edinburgh congregation, for the satisfaction of our readers.
Synagogue Chambers, Edinburgh,
At a meeting of the Edinburgh Hebrew Congregation, in vestry assembled, held this day, P. Levy, Esq., President, in the chair, it was unanimously resolved,
That this congregation view the intended departure of Dr. Raphall for <<430>>America, as a national loss to the community of British Jews, and do hereby record their regret accordingly.
That, mindful of the eminent services Dr. Raphall has rendered the whole community of British Jews by his public lectures and his eloquent speeches and published letters in defence of our moral code, doctrine, and discipline, when attacked by renegades to our faith out of parliament and bigots within, they are desirous of marking their sense of such services by subscribing to a testimonial and purse to be presented to the Doctor, and that a subscription list be opened accordingly.
That the lectures, speeches, and published writings of Dr. Raphall have eminently served the cause of civil and religious liberty, and greatly tended to emancipate Christians from ignorant prejudices against their Jewish brethren, and to awaken in the minds of the Christian public a sense of the unjust civil disqualifications oppressing the Jewish people, till Jewish political freedom has become a principle enthusiastically contended for by our Christian countrymen.
That the co-operation of the Jews’ and General Literary and Scientific Institution, Sussex Hall, London, be invited, and the amount subscribed at this meeting be forwarded to M. S. Oppenheim, Esq., Secretary to the said Institution, to be handed over to any committee formed in London for carrying out the views embodied in the foregoing resolutions.
That a minute of these proceedings be forwarded to the editor of the Jewish Chronicle for publication, and the support of his powerful pen be solicited in furthering the object contemplated by this meeting.
(Signed) Philip Levy, Proses,
We know not whether Dr. R. means to become a permanent resident in America; but we bespeak for him in advance, a hearty welcome from all American congregations whithersoever he may bend his steps. We no doubt shall have more to say concerning him hereafter.
To the Editor of the Jewish Chronicle.
Berlin.—“Sir,—Convinced that communications from here on the state of Judaism cannot fail to be interesting to your readers, I take the first opportunity, after the storm which has passed over my head, to address a few lines to you for insertion in your valuable journal. Were the Jewish Chronicle a political journal, I might be tempted to relate to you my adventures with the police authorities of this town; but as such a subject would be totally foreign to the purposes and tendencies of your journal, I will at once turn to things in general, and to Berlin Judaism in particular. It may be gratifying to you to hear that, while I have not yet had a sight of any of the German Jewish periodicals, (not one of our literary celebrities here encouraging them,) I have, hitherto, through the kindness of Mr. A. Asher, been able regularly to peruse your journal, which is doubly interesting to me, as it <<431>>keeps me au fait with what is doing among our brethren in England, and enables me to follow my learned friend, Mr. Dukes, in his able and useful researches at Oxford. The absence of a Jewish organ among our brethren here may be the cause of the erroneous notions which generally prevail as to the state of Judaism in this city. It is true, the reforming propensities of the age have here produced their worst effects; and the meeting-house of the Association for Reform bears no more analogy or resemblance to a synagogue, than that of the Quakers’ to a Catholic cathedral. The only Jewish feature left in it is a scroll of the law and a few Hebrew inscriptions. But even with these, the members of that association cannot come under the denomination of Jews, having overturned the main features of Judaism, viz., circumcision and the holy Sabbath. Formerly they used to meet both on Sabbath and Sunday; now, however, only on Sunday. Service is performed in the vernacular tongue, accompanied by an organ and choir; five verses are read out of the holy law, first in Hebrew and then in German, and Dr. Hold then delivers a sermon. The ladies sit on the right, and the gentlemen on the left row of benches within the nave. The old synagogue, on the other hand, forms a striking contrast to this modernised temple. Here we have a genuine specimen of a Synagogue of the good olden times. The building itself wears the aspect of venerable antiquity; it is very lofty, but not capacious enough to hold the crowded congregation that assembles here in a spirit of devotion scarcely surpassed by that of any of the London Synagogues.
“There being a constant influx of strangers, several inspectors are appointed, and stationed in different parts of the Synagogue, in order to prevent disturbance and to uphold decorum. The thrilling voice of the חזן (reader), assisted by an able and well-conducted choir, greatly tends to enhance devotion, and to elevate divine worship. But if the Synagogue is always well attended on Sabbath, it is densely thronged, even to suffocation, whenever the Rev. Dr. Sachs preaches (which is once a fortnight.) You would scarcely believe that you were in Berlin, where modern notions and missionary labours and oppressions have made such large inroads in our camp, and snatched from our ranks many who would have proved valiant fighters for our cause, and ‘broken forth upon’ our brethren. The young and the old (in age and sentiments), listen alike attentively to the eloquent strains of the highly-gifted preacher, who advocates the cause of orthodox Judaism, and preaches the word of God with a fervour and in a language calculated to inspire even the dullest and the most indifferent, and effectually to counteract the effects of scepticism and proselytism. By his eloquence he repels <<432>>the encroachments and resists the tide of the so-called modern enlightenment setting in on all sides: and, in the words of the prophet, is ‘a defended city, an iron pillar and brazen walls, against the whole land; they may fight against him, but they shall not prevail against him.’ Here, if anywhere, the good effects of pulpit instruction become manifest; and wherever the edifice of Judaism is tottering, or is becoming dilapidated, the Living Word is the remedy we must have recourse to, for it alone possesses the power לחזק את בדק הבית to repair the breaches of the house. More on this subject in my next.
“Wishing you and all your readers
כתיבה וחתימה טובה,
Return of Eight Jewish Members to the House of Assembly, Jamaica.—We perceive, by the letters and papers received from Jamaica of the 17th ult., that eight Jews were elected representatives in the House of Assembly, which contains altogether but 47 members. The gentlemen thus honoured are—Mr. Magnus for the parish of Trelawny (which ranks second in the island); Mr. George Phillips for St. James; Messrs. Lindo and Hart for St. Mary’s; Mr. Edward Lucas for Port Royal, Mr. Lyon for St. Dorothy; Mr. Salom for St. Thomas in the Vale; and Mr. Philip Laurence was again returned for Kingston. Whilst at home the lords dread the unchristianising of a Parliament having 650 odd members by one Jew, a Parliament in the English colonies admits eight Jewish members in a House of 47 members, and does not fear being Judaised by them. What an anomaly!—Jewish Chronicle, Oct. 5.
Important MS.—In a previous number of our Journal we gave a description of a MS. of our great commentator Rashi with deviations from all our printed editions. Like all other treasures of Jewish literature, however, it was not purchased by one of our Jewish brethren or institutions, but by the curators of the Bodleian Library, Oxford, who were anxious to secure this valuable relic. We should have rather wished to see it in the Beth Hamidrash (the Jewish college) of London. All that we can hope for now is, that Messrs. Edelman and Dukes, who are ransacking the rich stores of the Oxford library, be enabled to communicate to the Jewish public the result of their researches in exploring the mines of Jewish learning, which the wealthy Jews have allowed to be, as it were, estranged from themselves and concealed in a spot where, until within the last year, hardly a Jew had pitched his tent.—Ibid.