Home page The Occident and American Jewish Advocate Jews in the Civil War Jews in the Wild West History of Palestine The Occident Virtual Library


Third Annual Report of the Publication Committee

(Published by order of the Society.)

To the Members of the American Jewish Publication Society.

Your Committee on presenting their Third Annual Report, deeply regret at being unable to offer any very flattering picture of their action in the past year. Up to the present moment they have been able to issue but two numbers of the Miscellany, to wit: No. 10, being the conclusion of Patriarchal Times, and No. 11, being part second of the Path of Israel. Nos. 12 and 13* containing a reprint of Miss Grace Aguilar’s Spirit of Judaism, are in the printer’s hands, and will be issued and furnished to the contributors and members of the third year of your Society without delay. Owing to the absence from this country of one of the members of the Committee for a considerable portion of the year, we had but few meetings, which were also rendered useless by the low state of the treasury, or else we should have adopted the alternative presented by the By-laws, of appointing a temporary member to act in conjunction with the members in the city, and since the Committee met and decided on the work to be published, a singular and unforeseen circumstance has prevented us from issuing it as promptly as we could readily have done; and this was the impossibility of procuring the paper of the size which the Miscellany has hitherto been printed, owing to the low state of water in several of the creeks which supply paper-mills in this vicinity. Singular as this reason for the delay may appear, it is nevertheless strictly in accordance with the fact, and it will thus be seen, that something of which not one of your body may have thought, has materially interfered with our operations. A circumstance of the kind may, however, never occur again, and we hope that our members will be satisfied with this explanation.

* These numbers have been issued since the presentation of the above report.

The Treasurer’s report will give you a statement of the receipts and expenditures, the former of which have been much lighter than they ought to have been, owing to the little sympathy exhibited towards our <<575>>enterprise by the leading men in the various congregations. It is to be regretted that American Israelites do not see the importance of encouraging Jewish literature. Nothing so elevates a people as a high standard of education and knowledge; hence the school and the press go hand in hand to lift up the Hebrew people from their former depressed state. The world has awakened to a new light, and the principles of civil and religious liberty are taking so deep a root that they appear destined to advance with rapid strides to a sure and easy victory. All sorts of opinions are therefore buckling on their armour to make themselves felt and respected, to obtain a share in the dominion over the minds of men. How grievous a spectacle is it then to see the Jews alone stand still, and this in this country, in free America, where no civil or military power can arrest the schoolmaster or shackle the press. The engine for lifting up the mind is ready to our hand; but will we grasp it? This is the question, and your Committee deplore to be compelled to say, that, hitherto it has not been laid hold of in true good will by our brethren; whereas, the partial success that has attended the few who have employed it, amply proves that a brilliant result would ensue were the masses only to second the honest efforts of those who are willing to labour in the holy cause.

We call it holy, because on the progress of knowledge depends the spread of godliness, which will secure the peace and happiness. of mankind. They, therefore, who are willing and able to diffuse the knowledge of good things, eminently deserve the encouragement of all who feel it a privilege of being Israelites, who are not merely Jews because their parents were so before them, but because they have themselves felt the happiness of an enlightened faith, and a well established rule of life. Our religion is eminently a free and social system; it is eminently one of high reason and intellect; and hence, as true lovers of liberty and intelligence, we should labour steadily to diffuse it at least among those who are with us, belonging to the household of Israel. Our Society was commenced to scatter books of a good tendency far and wide over the land, to induce all, even children, to read, and thus to acquire imperceptibly a stock of good ideas. Your Committee flatter  themselves that they have truly fulfilled the task imposed on them by your appointment, in duly mixing the serious and the amusing, the grave and the lighter literature, so as to satisfy all tastes, which is amply proved by the fact that all the treatises already issued have been pronounced by one or the other the best of the series. This qualified commendation is the best approval your Committee could hope for, and should they again be called upon to be active in the field in which they have hitherto laboured, they pledge themselves to use the best fruits of their intellect to give you and the public satisfaction.

Your Committee do not deem it their business to travel out of their path so far as to offer you plans for future operation; they will therefore conclude now with the hope that all Israelites may be induced to strengthen the hands of the managers of our Society, so that they may be enabled to make our association in good truth a blessing to all American Israelites, and be the means of turning many souls to the <<576>>kingdom of Heaven, for their own individual prosperity, and to render them good citizens of our free and beloved republic.

Isaac Leeser, Chairman.
A. Hart
S. Solis

Philadelphia, November 5th, Heshwan 9th, 5609.