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בס"ד

Jews at St. Louis.

 

We have a letter from the secretary of that congregation, in which he gives a gratifying account of their progress. The name by which they are known, is “The United Hebrew Congregation of Saint Louis, Missouri,” and they number at present thirty contributing members. On last New Year and Kippur they had in their Synagogue about one hundred and twenty-five citizens and strangers belonging to our persuasion. They have a very fine room, which they use as a Synagogue, and which can hold five hundred persons. They possess one copy of the law, and have money enough to purchase another. They have a piece of ground for a burial-place about one mile from the courthouse; it is well fenced in, and has a building on it, as is customary with us. They have also a Shohet regularly employed by the congregation. The writer continues: “But I am sorry to say things do not go so well as we could wish; as a great many of our members leave here in the winter for the South, and a great many join before they are permanently settled, and after a short time leave the city.” Yet he looks forward to a permanent increase of the congregation from the constant growth of the city, which will naturally invite many Israelites to make it their home. He also informs us they have raised money enough to purchase a piece of ground to build a Synagogue on, and that a committee has been appointed to seek out an eligible situation.—Now let our readers call to mind that all the above is the work of but little more than three years, and they will certainly agree with the respected secretary of the congregation that there is ample cause for future hopes. During last summer we received a letter from a resident of South Carolina, whose business has led him twice there, wherein he says: “On my former visit to St. Louis, three years ago, I found about forty or fifty Jews, all, with four or five exceptions, men. They had no place of worship, and lived not as Jews. The holidays drawing nigh, they hired a room, in which prayers were said New Year and Kippur. At my suggestion they called a meeting after the holidays, for the purpose of organizing themselves into a society, (they had previous to this a burying-ground;) nearly all attended, and Mr. H. Van Beil (now of Philadelphia) was called to the chair, who briefly explained the object of the meeting. A committee, consisting of Messrs. H. Van Beil, J. Pecare, and H. H. Cohen, was appointed to draft a constitution and bylaws for the government of the society. The following week the members again met, the constitution and by-laws, as reported by the committee, were adopted, officers were elected, and the society organized. I soon after left for Charleston, and have since known nothing of the condition of the congregation until lately, when, on my second visit to this place, I found that the number of Jews here had increased to about sixty or seventy, nearly all men. They have a room in which divine service is held every Saturday. They also have a Shohet. But alas! the state of religion is far from being as it should.” We cannot transcribe the remainder of the letter, as it refers mostly to our labours; we have shown enough, however, that though so much remains to be done to entitle the brethren of St. Louis to be considered a pious congregation, they have done a great deal to remove from them the stigma of indifference; and we trust that with the increase of their numbers the state of religion will also improve, and that next year’s report may show them to be “keeping the Sabbath by not violating it,” and setting an example in their domestic relations of being part of “a people holy to the Lord.”