|Vol. VIII, No. 6
Elul 5610 September 1850
Dr. Schlessinger.—This learned and eloquent defender of Judaism has gone back to his native land, Germany. We knew not of his departure till after it had taken place, or else we should have not left New York during a hurried visit of but two days’ duration without taking leave of him in person. Our readers have for the third time, in this number of our magazine, the opportunity of seeing some of this gentleman’s productions, and no doubt he could have become a regular and constant contributor to our pages. It was his intention, originally, to send for his family to join him here; but the state of his wife’s health was so precarious that the physicians would not permit her to undertake a long sea voyage; and as the political reasons which induced him to leave Germany are no longer operating, and Dr. Schlessinger being, therefore, able to return to her without any risk of being molested for his liberalism, a crime under a monarch’s rule, he resolved to repair to her in person, and he hopes, that under the blessing of Providence, she may be restored to health, when her husband is present to watch over her. We sincerely wish him a happy reunion with his own beloved kindred, and shall be glad to hear of his being reinstated in his position as Rabbi of Sulzbach, which, we understand, has been left vacant for him since his quitting. We part from him with deep regret, as he is one of the few whose heart and soul are true to the cause of his religion no less than to the freedom of his fatherland; still we do not think that he will be long suffered to remain away; but that his services may be <<316>>demanded in some of the large congregations at New York, where he is so generally known. Our readers would be surprised at the rapid strides in writing the English, Dr. Schlessinger has made in the course of about nine months which he spent here; and this little circumstance alone would show that he is precisely the sort of man who would be useful in this country. We trust, therefore, to have yet the pleasure of hailing him as the presiding teacher of some flourishing community in America.
Louisville.—We regret to learn that Mr. Henry, who officiated as Hazan for about a year past in a congregation at Cincinnati, has removed to Louisville, and having obtained a school there, founded, if we understand correctly, upon the ruins of the congregational school we were made to believe was but lately in a flourishing condition, is about offering himself as a candidate for the office of minister, now held by Mr. Gotthelf. We sincerely trust that, should he really carry his rumoured intentions into effect, the people will not lend their aid to dismiss a faithful officer and replace him with a person who, whatever his qualifications may be, and we confess our entire ignorance of him, allowed himself to be made the instrument at all events to displace, last year, Mr. Gutheim, now of New Orleans, from the situation which he had so worthily filled at Cincinnati. Indeed we cannot understand why people will act in this manner towards those who have served them well; it is indeed, but poor encouragement for any one to devote himself entirely to the general welfare, if he, with all his efforts, runs the risk of being compelled to make way for a stranger who only comes to this country or to a particular city to obtain an office,—without perhaps, having the qualifications or feelings which fit him for the position he desires. We have, we acknowledge, no right to interfere in the domestic affairs of the people of Louisville; but we deem this becoming a candidate for an office worthily filled by a person willing to continue at his post, so great an outrage and so palpable a sin against the plain spirit of the Scriptures (Deut. xxvii. 17), that we would be false to our calling as a journalist, did we not seize the first opportunity which has offered, to record our protest against it, and to express the hope that no such attempt may be crowned with success. Periodical elections may perhaps be justifiable as enabling congregations to pass their judgment often upon the merits of their ministers; but they ought surely not be made the means of oppression, and to invite a periodical contest for office, and to keep alive and foster the baneful party spirit which, alas! <<317>>is the reason of so much mischief among us, and occasions the failure of all attempts at doing good service to our cause. We could write a long essay on this topic; but we forbear, and recommend simply the Israelites of Louisville to express publicly their confidence in their minister by re-electing him by a triumphant vote, so that he may have no just ground of regretting having taken up his abode among them.
New Orleans.—The corner-stone of the new Synagogue, Shangaray Chassed, was laid on the 22d of July (not the 21st as stated in our last), by the ministers of the city, aided by other Israelites, among whom Mr. Touro was not missing. We have not received any particulars, wherefore we are compelled to be satisfied with this simple notice. We, however, hear that Mr. Gutheim made an address which was well received, and we have no doubt with ample justice.
Judaism in California.—Our readers know as well as we, that the emigrants to the “Land of Gold” went there generally to acquire wealth, and many feared, that religion would be lost sight of, in a community where all “make haste to get rich.” Perhaps the far greater portion of Jews at present there are thus affected; but there is a consolation in the thought, that all are not alike. For proof, we refer to the following, which has met our eye in a New York paper, credited to the Alta California of June 18th, a journal appearing at San Francisco. Our readers will be pleased with the tone of true liberality with which the paragraph is written, as it shows all absence of a narrow spirit against us, as often characteristic of persons not acquainted with our religion; and they will at the same time rejoice with us at the prospect of a Synagogue being speedily organized on the shores of the Pacific, and they will also join us in the wish that the example may spread, and be felt all along its shores. “One of the most solemn and impressive ceremonies of the Hebrew faith was performed yesterday at the Albion House, in the family of Mr. Kelseay. Dr. Zechariah officiated upon the occasion. At the same time we understand a Jewish Benevolent Society was formed. As there are many enterprising and useful citizens of the Jewish persuasion in our community, we have no doubt that this society will be a large one, and that ere long we shall hear of the establishment of a Synagogue at San Francisco.”
Will not some of our friends in that city keep us advised of the progress of things? They would confer a favour both on us and our readers.
France.—In obedience to the requirement of the invitation of the Minister of Public Instruction, the central consistory have elected Mr. Adolphe Franck, Member of the Institute, and Professor of Philosophy in the College of France, as the Jewish deputy to the Superior Council of Public Instruction. Mr. Franck is Vice-President of the central consistory of the Israelites of France and author of the work on Cabbala, which has received much commendation in Europe. No doubt but this worthy and learned scholar will honourably discharge the responsible functions which his colleagues have devolved on him, and se that the Jewish interests are well protected.—To judge from various articles in the Archives it appears that the Catholic clergy are making strenuous efforts to rise again into power. Three revolutions have not yet taught them wisdom, when they can defend the propriety of the ancient Inquisition. Perhaps they may pave the way for another day of the barricades and if this should be, they may then witness a final separation of church and state, and have no longer their support from the public purse. For our part we do not care how soon this may be accomplished; and in the mean time, we are glad that many Protestants as well as Jews feel the degrading position ministers occupy in being paid by the state, and receiving salaries entirely inadequate for their support, whilst the high dignitaries of the Catholic Church are well provided for. This should surely “be better regulated in France.”
* * * “‘We have gained but two things as the results of our revolution,’ observed an intelligent Prussian to me: ‘the removal of religious disqualifications and freedom to smoke in the streets of Berlin.’ You smile at my coupling the two together; but, I assure you, if the Jews consider they have cause to rejoice by having their civil shackles removed, no less does the German feel that he has achieved at least something, now that he has the liberty to puff where he likes.
“I was walking in the Linden to-day and met the funeral procession of Mr. William Beer, brother of the composer. After the hearse followed one of the royal carriages (the first time that the remains of a Jew have been thus honoured in this country), the carriage of Meyer Beer, the pupils of the Jewish free schools, a number of carriages of the nobility, some of the foreign ambassadors, and closing with a long array of private carriages, imposing from their numbers, but nothing else.
“Whatever advantages the Jews of Berlin may have received in the way (I cannot speak of other parts of Prussia) of civil rights, they cannot boast of much religious advancement as flowing therefrom. Mixed marriages, before prohibited, have taken place in many cases, and the reform(?) temple now numbers 200 members.
“‘I would not ask you to my house during the Passover,’ said one of their leaders to me, because we only observe it in a historical form. We have the matzos on the table to remind us of the food our fathers partook of on going out from Egypt; but we have also leavened bread.’ But do you call yourselves Jews, when, besides all this, you substitute another day for that which was to be through all generations the distinctive mark between you and your Creator? ‘Yes! we call ourselves Jews, and good Jews too, for we do not deny the superior sanctity of the seventh day; but as we are occupied with worldly affairs at day, we worship on this, as we consider it much better to render thanks on Sunday than on no day at all.’ Will such philosophy as this pass current at the gates of heaven?”