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


Consecration of the Synagogue Beth Jacob, at Albany.

Reverend Sir,

I am instructed to furnish you a sketch of our proceedings in order that it may be published, so that others of our coreligionaries may be induced to benefit by our example, and raise structures to the living God of Israel, wheresoever they may be located. When we undertook <<142>>the task of building, our number consisted of but eighteen members, and these but hard working men, having to live by the “sweat of our brow.” Still relying on our increase by the many that immigrate to our shores, and on other causes, we commenced the noble work; our number at present being forty members, and possessing as neat a building, with all suitable appurtenances, as can be desired by any Jewish congregation. The building is neat and commodious, centrally situated, and, with its ground, cost about $5000.

Too much credit cannot be given to our worthy President, S. Munster, Secretary J. Newburg, and other gentlemen, for the unremitting attention they paid to the whole management, although I feel assured they were amply repaid for all their toil, at the appearance of the Synagogue on the 26th day of Nissan, the period appointed for the consecration service. For some weeks prior to the above date, the committee of arrangement was much embarrassed for the want of some suitable gentleman to conduct the ceremonies, and to deliver a consecration lecture in the English language, having, from our limited means, not yet the power to engage a minister possessing these qualifications, so essential to the prosperity of an American congregation. A meeting was held, and it was resolved to solicit the valuable services of the Rev. S. M. Isaacs, of the Wooster Street Synagogue, New York. That gentleman, with the unanimous concurrence of his board of trustees, at once accepted the invitation and from that period all our difficulties were at an end.

The moment it became known that the Rev. Mr. Isaacs would officiate, the request for tickets of admission from our most wealthy citizens was so great, that it was found totally impossible to gratify a fifth part of the applicants. As it was, the building was crowded in every part; numbers had to leave the vestibule from the impossibility of obtaining further ingress. Among those present, exclusive of our own and members of the other congregation, were the Mayor, Judge Parker, of the Supreme Court, a great number of clergymen, members of the bar, and the most respectable of our citizens. The ceremonies were conducted on true Jewish principles; there was no departure from the landmarks of our faith; and if we failed in charming the ear by melodious songs from a well-trained choir, we succeeded in arousing the soul to action, by listening to the eloquent and chaste discourse of Mr. Isaacs. He took his text from Exodus, ועשו לי מקדש ושכנתי בתוכם, and for full an hour did he rivet the attention of his crowded auditory. The lecture has been requested for publication, hence I should regret, even were I able, to give you the substance. I cannot, however, omit to notice his ardent <<143>>declaration against the innovating spirit of the age, and his strong reproof against the neglect of religious culture. At the conclusion of the lecture, the ceremonies were continued; and when the service was finished, manifest evidence of delight was depicted on every countenance at the mental treat they had experienced. It having come to the knowledge of the congregation that the reverend guest intended returning to his official duties on Sunday evening, they resolved that the trustees should wait on him at the Delevan House on Sunday morning to present him with a gold watch, engraven with the name of the congregation, as a memento of the esteem in which his worth and services are held by the members of the congregation

Beth Jaacob