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בס"ד

Hebrew Institute.

 

The readers of the Occident will surely recollect a plan of Judge Noah, published in the September number of last year, for the establishment of a Hebrew College. But it seems that up to this moment it has not proceeded beyond the plan, and its realization is reserved for a future period.

Now we cannot persuade ourselves that the reason of the abandonment, or delay only, of so holy and desirable an enterprise is to be sought for in an entire indifference, or absolute carelessness towards our holy religion on the part of our fellow-Israelites; for though we evidently see that they do not live as strictly according to the Mosaic laws as they did formerly: the Israelite still remains an Israelite, and the desire to retain his children in the profession of his own religion, still burns strongly in the breast of every parent.

Nor are we inclined to believe that the reason of the failure of the above project is to be found in the fact, that Israelites do not recognise or mistake the meritorious object of the projector; for besides that the Judge is known amongst us as a very excellent and deserving personage, the enterprise speaks loudly for itself, and is evidently such a one as is the holiest to, and most to be desired by every one who calls himself a Jew, or who deserves this honourable distinction in the smallest degree. It cannot be doubted that. most parents desire to have their children educated in the sciences, as far as their talents will permit them. This desire should however be especially dwelling in the bosom of our fellow-Israelites in America, where the paths of honour are open to the Jew no less than to the other citizens, and where each parent has a right to hope to see his son one day filling the highest offices in the gift of the people.

And still we find in this free country few Jewish youth in the public institutions, in proportion to the immense number of students of our persuasion in Europe, who frequent the high schools with the most distinguished success; and it is not to be denied, that many fathers in this country try to repress the well-founded expectations of their children by denying them a liberal education, whilst the European Jews endeavour to bring forward their offspring on the road to preferment, deceiving themselves with vain hopes of more liberality towards our religion, whilst the the prospect becomes in truth darker with every day.

Is this to be accounted for on the supposition that precisely in America Israelites have no taste for sciences? or are they afraid of them or fly from them as from some deadly monster? or have they no ambition, which would instigate them to send their children to colleges and universities?

No! an aversion to sciences can surely not exist among Israelites, not exist among a nation from the midst of which sprung a Maimonides, an Abarbanel, a Nachmanides, and many other lights of the world; a nation, the youth of which, according to the testimony of all the faculties where Jewish students are, endeavour to excel their fellows; such a nation, I say, can never lose all taste and incentive for the pursuit of the sciences.

We are therefore obliged to seek the reason of the just mentioned neglect in this country, in the fear entertained by many, that our youth may lose their attachment to the paternal faith by frequenting Christian institutions, which alone they can under present circumstances resort to, and be persuaded there, through the influence of teachers and associates, to abjure their religion for another.

And in good truth, this fear is not without its reason; for from what source can we expect them to be armed with a strong affection for their paternal religion? whence is to spring a firm attachment for our faith? Where are in this country such schools as will enable the Jewish child to become acquainted with the principles of our heavenly religion? Where are the teachers who make the youth acquainted with the absolute superiority of the Mosaic law and its holiness, so as as to implant in their yet uncorrupted hearts that love and esteem for the same which are requisite for the formation of a religious life? Or is it supposed that the instruction imparted in the Sunday schools, given only once a week, and this for about one or two hours, can be sufficient to give a child a satisfactory knowledge of the whole law? Can we in truth imagine that this small amount of instruction will be sufficient to fortify the heart against the allurements and charms of sin, and excite such a conviction in our faith, that all the efforts of the proselyte-makers must recoil without effect?

This can never be effected by such means. Simple as the law of Moses is, excellent as its doctrines are in comparisons with those of other creeds: it is evidently not without good cause that we are commanded to meditate day and night on the subject of our faith, and to teach it diligently to our children; and it cannot have been in vain, that in former days the men of Israel spent the greater portion of their life in the study of the law. All this is evidently a proof, that it is the chief obligation of the Jew to acquire a profound knowledge of the law; since the more he becomes familiar with it, the stronger will be his conviction of its divine origin; and the more his love and esteem for it increases, the more will he become strengthened in believing, and the closer will he cleave to it with body and soul all the days of his life.

Thus it was in ancient times, when the study of the law was pursued by our brethren with a passionate fondness; in those times no sacrifice was too great which the Jew would not have willingly brought for his religion; and life, property, country, every thing dear to man, was yielded, only to retain his hold on his faith.

And so it will always be, so it must be, as soon as we have a profound knowledge of our religion, as soon as our children are deeply instructed in its tenets.

But alas! we must confess it to our shame, that this holy pursuit even has been too much neglected in this country; so that we find neither schools nor teachers of religion, and that out of ten children hardly one knows what religion is, not to mention what doctrines it comprises.

And if we consider this fact well, we cannot blame our fellow-Israelites for not sending their children to Christian institutions; yes, we would praise them were this the reason why they obstruct them in the pursuit of an elevated standing, and renounce voluntarily their future advancement.

The realization of Judge Noah's plan would have remedied this evil, and nothing would be more desirable than to see such an institution flourishing among us, in which Jewish children could obtain a classical education without paying therefor at the cost of their religion.

Other causes may have, doubtlessly, operated to prevent Judge Noah's project being carried into effect; but we trust that American Israelites are at length convinced that we are greatly in need of such institutions, wherein our children may acquire a classical and religious education; and they can be easily established in all the larger cities where the Jewish inhabitants are numerous.

The object of the undersigned is, therefore, to establish in this city an institution of this kind: and as he has acquired a good classical and theological education in several German universities, and has made these studies his sole occupation, he does not hesitate to promise that nothing shall be wanting on his part to farther the success of the institution if it be once established.

It is proposed to teach in this school, Hebrew grammar, translating the daily prayers and the Scriptures into English. Catechism, Latin, Greek, English Grammar, Mathematics, Geography, History, German, and French.

In order to be able to put the charges at the lowest possible rate, he intends himself to give instruction in most of the above branches, and to engage competent teachers for the other departments.

Children of poor parents shall receive their education gratuitously.

The time of commencing the school cannot be determined until about twenty pupils shall be offered, when a convenient school­room and the necessary furniture will be at once procured.

The subscriber farther requests those who may be willing to entrust him with their children, to call on him in person as soon as convenient, in order to enable him to commence at the earliest possible day.

H. Felsenheld,
South Second Street, 2d door below Federal.