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The American Jewish Publication Society.


Our readers must excuse us, if we are again induced to urge this deserving institution on their earnest attention. It is not large sums the Managers require, but only sufficient to keep it in existence until such a period as the general desire for information will induce a regular sale of the works to be issued. But this period has not yet arrived; and hence the necessity for us to ask all Israelites who can spare the sum of one dollar per annum to send in their names as members, for which they will receive all the numbers of the Jewish Miscellany which may appear during the current year for which their contribution is sent. The Committee on Publication do not pledge themselves to any given number of volumes, but only that they mean to issue them to the full amount of the money in the Treasurer’s hands; beyond this they cannot go, unless they were to issue the books at their own expense, which they cannot do under present circumstances, the enterprise being one of a public nature, and the committee being only the organ of a regularly instituted society. There appears to have been an error prevailing in the minds of certain persons* in New Orleans with regard to the frequency of publication, since we have learned that they expected a number of the Miscellany every month. They perhaps have not reflected that it would have been impossible for our committee to perform as much literary labour as this would have required; besides which, in the circular which the Editor of the Occident issued as Corresponding Secretary no such prospect was held out, as he only alluded to the possibility of eight numbers per annum, in case from twelve to fifteen <<411>>hundred subscribers could be obtained.

* By the bye, it shows a great liberality to expect for one dollar, books which could not be obtained for more than double the sum in any other way.

We refer the gentlemen who attach some personal blame to us to our circular of December 10th, 1845, (Kislev 11th, 5606.) But instead of fifteen hundred, not more than about four hundred and fifty were ever obtained; we cannot state the precise number, as we have not at hand the Recording Secretary’s book to refer to. It was only through means of the strictest economy that the committee could issue nine numbers in two years; and we have to depend for yet farther aid during this, the third year of the society, to defray the expenses of four numbers, which it is proposed to issue, two of which have only as yet appeared, owing to the low state of the treasury. Instead of blaming the committee, people ought to blame their own apathy. They always complain that they cannot find good reading books for their children; that all the ordinary works which they can purchase in the book stores are of such a tendency that they give a wrong bias to the mind of youth. In this we join them with all our heart; but when it comes to apply a remedy, to furnish a series of good and instructive reading, (will it be believed?) it is impossible to find, we will not say fifteen hundred subscribers at one dollar, but even five hundred! Is this a blame to a committee of three Israelites residing in Philadelphia, or to all the Jews living in America? We say honestly, that if the enterprise can be carried on with more success in another city, we, for one will vote to transfer it; if there can be found three persons more disinterestedly alive to the wants of Judaism than the present committee, let them be appointed. We have no personal ends to subserve by the parent society’s being in Philadelphia, nor our acting as chairman of the committee. Individually, we have spent many an hour, many a day in revising and superintending the publications; and we only regret that the task has not been oftener imposed on us; for multifarious as our engagements are, we could have found time to attend yet more to this public benefaction.

The enterprise is not a local nor a personal one; it was, it is true, commenced in Philadelphia, and this too by the present president and chairman of the publication committee; but only in order that literature of a Jewish kind might be diffused all over the land, at a cost so trifling that the poorest man might be able to participate in its benefits. That our anticipations have not been realized, is not our fault; that the rich have not stepped forward to endow our treasury with the requisite funds, in the absence of subscribers, is no cause of blame to us. But if we Jews had among us a tithe of the zeal of the Christians, who spend their thousands in tracts, prayer-books, and Bibles, for gratuitous distribution all over the land, we should not have been compelled to wait the slow incoming of the individual subscriptions. Still it is time <<412>>that our men and women whom the Lord has richly endowed with worldly goods, should think it their duty to do something for their religion and its advancement. They live in fine houses, eat dainty food, drive along in easy carriages; but we ask them to point out to us the sacrifices they have made for Judaism? Equally we ask the middling classes, “How much have you spared from your daily superfluities to adorn and diffuse your religion?” We fear that they could all easily have done a great deal more than they have dreamt of, without injuring themselves or their families; the will is only wanting, and whilst this is so, every enterprise must languish, every effort of those sincerely religious must be in vain, as far as human foresight can discern.

It is a pity that we have to make this public confession, that we have to publish to the world a statement of our derelictions; but we scorn to flatter Israelites or gentiles, and we must speak out the truth, let it wound whom it may, or though it may recoil back on us to our own injury. Personally we have no fear; and thus we are perfectly careless whether or not our words draw upon us the ill-will of any one, or of an entire class. This much we will say unhesitatingly, that we have been an attentive observer of passing events for fully twenty-four years that we have lived in this country, and have never known a single person become poor by his contributions to religious objects though in the mean time we have known of many fortunes dissipated like chaff before the wind, and have known other cases where a deceased left much less to divide among his heirs than they or the public had expected. Would it not have been just as well in all these cases had they who once possessed wealth given liberally towards the promotion of their faith? They would have had at least the satisfaction of looking back on the good they had done as so much snatched from the general ruin, which has since befallen them.

We assure our readers, let their opinion of us or our efforts be what they may, that they could not do better than by encouraging education and literature with their means; for thus they could lay the foundation of an elevated character for the rising generation, and help to perpetuate the faith of Israel in all its professors. They may deem books as trifling aids; but if this is so we tell them they have not duly observed the operations of the human mind. Their silent instructions instill drop by drop their impression on the soul, and wo to that parent, and wo to that child, where the food of the spirit is not carefully watched, so that its effects may be wholesome only.

As regards the eleven numbers of the Miscellany already issued, it becomes us not to speak, as we acted as editor throughout. But no one will dispute that they are pleasant and useful; and this is all that <<413>>can be demanded. And as regards cheapness, there is no ground for complaint likewise; the books are richly worth the price affixed, and thus the subscribers have received their full return for their money and it is only to be regretted that our means were too limited to have made their contribution more productive to them. We hope, therefore, in conclusion, that people will make an earnest effort to increase the sphere of usefulness of the society, and not injure it at least by carping and fault-finding, and begrudge a few pennies in postage for the works as they issue. All that the committee can do is to send the books by the nearest post-office to some central place of deposit; and let the contributors only remember that a little effort and forbearance on their part will render our labours both pleasant and useful to us and them; and that they are all equally interested in the success of our enterprise, as the chairman and members of the publication committee.