|Vol. III, No. 9
Kislev 5606, December 1845
The Reverend Dr. Lilienthal, late of St. Petersburg, of whose mission, under the auspices of the Emperor of Russia, we gave some account in No. 3 of our first volume, arrived a few weeks ago in New York from Havre. We were not apprised through the European papers before of the Doctor's intention of visiting this country, and were therefore greatly astonished to learn from one of the public prints of the above city, that he was to address a meeting of the German Hebrew Society on Wednesday evening, the 19th ult. We were the more surprised, because we thought that he was greatly in the Emperor's confidence, and was to be invested with a species of superintendence over Jewish affairs in Russia. But up to the moment of writing this, we have received no account which could satisfy our curiosity. But we learn from one of our friends who has conversed with the Doctor, that he represents the condition of our brethren in Russia, as wretched beyond our conception; that hitherto they have at least enjoyed the liberty of following the religion of our fathers; but that this boon will in all probability be very soon denied them, and that to renounce their religion or die will be the only alternative left them.—We devoutly pray that this dreadful state may not befall nearly the half of all the Jews on earth. But how strange that at all times, and in all ages, we meet persecution! Today, it is the Inquisition in Spain; then a Philip in France; an Edward in England; and now again, a Nicholas in Russia aims, which God forfend, to raise his hand against a larger mass than ever the sword threatened before, since the destruction or Jerusalem. O! is this the freedom of which our men in Germany and France boast? Need we not wish for the Messiah to raise up the standard of freedom? How our modern men hug their chains! They were formerly of coarse iron links; but being now of a lighter and finer material, coated over with the false gildings of pretended humanity, they are no longer felt as burdensome. Shame on such men! Shame on such who wish to mislead Israel! It has been our melancholy duty, since we conducted our periodical, to speak frequently of many vexatious persecutions; none indeed of any great magnitude; but still, more vexatious than freemen in America could have thought likely to happen in this socalled enlightened age. And can we say that the end of our sorrows has come? That we are to fear no longer?—But we are hurried on by our feelings to an undue length in what we intended should be a mere paragraph. We are partly promised some valuable information from Dr. L., and we herewith publicly request him to favour our periodical with whatever he may deem of sufficient interest to be laid before our communities.
Norway. We should judge from the absence of any positive information, that the bill reported to the Storthing for admitting the Jews into that country, has failed to receive the necessary support, and that we have to look yet to a later period for an act of tardy justice. We also learn from the last “Voice of Jacob” received, that of October 22d, that Henry Wergeland, the poet and statesman, and the enlightened defender of our right, has been taken away by death from his sphere of labour. Mr. W. had earned a claim to our gratitude, and he will be long remembered as a sincere friend of Israel.
Hebrew Books Printed in Poland. It must be gratifying to the friends of the Bible, to find, that while some of the children of faithful Abraham speak slightingly of the sacred inheritance received from their forefathers, in the possession of their holy national language, this is by no means a prevailing feeling. This appears from many facts which have recently occurred among the Jews; among which we may notice a statement in the “Orient” for July 23, page 240, that during the year 1844, 134 Hebrew books were printed in Poland.
This number certainly is very considerable, especially as we must remember that most of the Polish Jews are poor.—Jew. Intel.
Outrages Against the Jews in Bavaria.—St. Werner’s Chapel. The July number of “Records of Israel’s State and Prospects,” quotes the following from a private communication from Ratisbon, dated May, 20:—
Recent events are not calculated to hand down to posterity the praise of Ratisbon, but contain memorials to the disgrace of its inhabitants. Our papers record horrifying accounts of the destruction of the Jewish cemetery by the inhabitants of our town, who call themselves Christians! This outrage, of which the citizens of Ratisbon some days ago, have been guilty, is not merely to be deplored as a desecration of a place which even heathens and barbarians have reverenced and looked upon as holy, but also, and principally, as being a desecration of the name of Christ by Christians! That children of the “only true Church,” should in the year 1845, disturb the sacred tranquillity and rest of the grave, and persecute even the dead, must cause every true Christian to blush for the honour of his faith.
In Thalmessingen, in the kingdom of Bavaria, a second instance has occurred of that ignorance and credulity which has thought no charge too absurd that could give vent to the prejudices and hatred of the mob. against the Jews. It appears from the “Orient,” that on the 12th of May, a woman made a complaint of her daughter having, on the 27th of April, been taken by a Jew into his carriage, where he kept her confined, under a threat of stabbing her with a poniard if she made the slightest noise, and subsequently shut her up in a barn, guarded by a large dog. The victim was said to have effected her escape through a small hole made by herself in the wall, and to have been carried through the air to her home. A witness affirmed that he had seen the newly-made saint flying through the air!
A strict investigation was caused to be made into the affair by the government, which resulted in the liberation of the Jew, and the punishment of his false accuser.
A similar charge was brought forward at Wallerstein, in the same kingdom, in consequence of a traveller having, on July 21st, been detected in the act of carrying off a little girl from the public high road. A cry was immediately raised that the child had been stolen by a Jew, and the mob was about to wreak its vengeance on all the Jews of the place, when, by the energetic exertions of a Jewish gentleman, the real delinquent was overtaken and brought to justice, and the groundlessness of the charge against the Jews exposed. It appears, however, that the mob still persist in asserting that the child was stolen by a Jew, for the purpose of obtaining Christian blood.
Having been thus compelled to record three painful instances of the continuance of that intolerance and bigotry, which, in countries where spiritual darkness and fanaticism regins, has ever made the Jews the objects of merciless persecution: we cannot but take this opportunity of referring to the publication of one of these legends, which have imputed unheard-of crimes to the Jews, and charged them with a thirst after human sacrifices, under the title of “St. Werner’s Chapel; or, The Crucified Child of the Rhine.” [London: B. Wertheim.] We leave our readers to gather from the pages of the little work itself the particulars of those outrages against the outcast children of Israel there referred to. We fully concur in the words of the authoress, when she says:—
“We now regard such a tale as but the vestige of a long-passed-by-period; we listen to it with a smile, as one belonging to the ‘olden time;’ and because that time has faded from our minds, and its spirit from our hearts, we think it must be so also with those whose fathers suffered in it. But it is not so. Can the Jew pass St. Werner’s Chapel, can the Jew behold in the Church of Oberwesel the pillar to which it is said the child Werner was bound and scourged, without scorn, bitterness, derision, or contempt, being felt against those by whom the miraculous legend, and these its enduring evidences have been perpetuated?
“My heart sympathizes with the Jew. I feel how much reason he has to detest the Christian name, to despise the Christian profession; and I often wish the people of Israel could learn to know and admire and love the character of the tender, benevolent, exalted, yet sympathizing Saviour of sinners, before associating the name of Christ with the conduct or character of Christians. I could wish that many an English traveller on the Rhine would think of these things, and recollect that a Jew may be at their elbow, that his unbelieving ear may listen to the oft-repeated story of the Crucified Child, that he may witness our national curiosity, excited by the aspect of St. Werner’s Chapel, and that he may be imbibing a deeper prejudice to the Christian faith, and cherishing a more profound contempt for the Christian profession.
‘We cannot refute your faith,’ said the Jewish rabbi, ‘but we have an aversion to it.’ And he uttered the language of truth and candour.” Ib.
Allotment of Russian Crown-Lands for the Use of the Jews. The “Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung,” contains the following communication “from the Russian frontiers:”—
The Emperor of Russia resolved last year upon an act of singular favour, for the benefit of the Jews: we refer to the assignment to poor Jews of lands in their immediate neighbourhood belonging to the crown and money for providing the necessary farming apparatus for those who are willing to devote themselves to the cultivation of the soil. It appears strange that the press, which has taken so much interest in the distresses of the Russian Jews, has seen no occasion for reporting this gracious regulation. In Russia, however, the importance of the Imperial command has been fully acknowledged, and highly appreciated by the Jews. Thousands have availed themselves thereof; and in one town, which does not contain above three or four hundred Jewish families, a hundred and fifty families have registered their names as agriculturists. Lately, however, complaints have been heard, and it is the duty of the German press to give publicity to them, in order that they may reach the ears of the Emperor. It is, alas! the fact, that in Russia, the will of subordinate officials is carried out, and not the command of the Emperor. This has been the case in the allotment of the crown-lands. The authorities, who will not allow the poor Jews to possess landed property near their own domains, although there may be extensive tracts of uncultivated soil in the immediate neighbourhood, throw so many difficulties in their way, that it would be injustice to attribute all their opposition to selfishness; much must be owing to their ignorance and hatred of the Jews. It is their opinion that no relief ought to be granted to the Jews; and they do not consider, that without adequate assistance and support, it is all but impossible for the Jew to give up his commercial pursuits, and devote himself to agriculture. The conduct of the officials renders this change indeed almost impossible for the Jews, and fills them with sad forebodings as to the future. It is not only want with which they are threatened, as the frontier trade is almost at an end, and the home trade cannot support the mass of the people, besides that they are restricted as regards many lines of business: but the fear of the Ernperor’s anger fills them with great anxiety. If he finds that his noble intentions are not carried out, and does not know the true reason, and sees the Jews continuing to vegetate in their former state, while he attributes the fault to the Jews themselves, having done for them all that was in his power, the Jews will then have to expect the worst from his anger. And yet we who are here on the spot, and are eye-witnesses of the proceedings in the neighbouring empire, and have opportunities for observing the arbitrary conduct of the subordinate officials, are fully convinced that the unfortunate Jews are not to be blamed in the matter; the administration to which they are subject, renders it impossible for them to comply with the wise purposes of the Emperor.—Ib.
The Late Rev. Rabbi Hirschell’s Valuable Library.—Many of our readers will be glad to learn that this valuable collection of rare books and manuscripts has been purchased for the בית המדרש, by the Committee of that College. We understand the price given was £300; and that the collection had been valued at that sum by the Rev. Dr. Adler.—Voice of Jacob.
Copenhagen.—A Jewish free-school for boys has lately been established here. The chief members of the clergy, the highest officers of the state, the government, and all the professors of the university, attended at its solemn opening. Rabbi Wolf, the zealous minister of the Jewish congregation, justified, by an able speech, his high reputation as an orator. Two legacies, (made by Jews,) one of 50,000, and the other of 7,500 dollars, have been the principal means of enabling the congregation to accomplish this meritorious work.—Ib.
False Charge Against the Jews of Kidnapping!—On the 21st ultimo, a traveller on his way to Oettingen, seized a girl about eight years old, and concealed her in his vehicle. Some peasants who observed it, followed him, exclaiming, “A Jew has been kidnapping!” The child was recovered, and the offender given into custody; but, notwithstanding that an examination proved him not to be a Jew, and that the papers seized upon him proved him a Christian, the ignorant populace still insist that he is a Jew, and that he thirsted for Christian blood! So much for German enlightenment!—Ib.
Hanover.—No. 14 of the Treue Zion’s Wachter contains a paragraph, dated Hanover, 28th Sept., 1845, stating that the Candidate Meyer (a native of Hanover) has been elected to the office of Chief Rabbi by a concurrence of 34 votes. He acquired his Talmudistical learning under the tuition of the Rev. Dr. Adler, who also conferred upon him the honorary title of מורנו. The correspondent expresses his hope that the new Hanoverian Rabbi will adhere to the religious principles of his reverend predecessor, and wisely manage the interests of his congregation.—Ib.
Schwerin.—The use of a separate synagogue has been granted to the orthodox party at Schwerin. Their opponents console themselves with the hope that the “old” ones may soon cease to exist. But what is now young, may, as we daily see, become “old” in turn.—Ib.
Constantinople.—On the 24th of July last, the English Ambassador had another conference with Sheikib-Effendi, relative to the firman for the Protestant church at Jerusalem. The Porte hesitated to grant it, on the grounds that there being no Protestant congregations either at Jerusalem or in Turkey, neither a bishop nor a church was required for them. There was reason to presume that the Protestant church, by means of proselytising efforts, would endeavour to form a congregation, while every other church there represents some congregation already existing in the country. Sir Stratford Canning replied that England and Prussia, the two great Protestant Powers of Europe, with their millions of Protestant subjects, are equally entitled to claim the right of being permitted to found a church near the tomb erected to the founder of the Christian religion, so that the Protestants of these two states, who should perform a pilgrimage to that spot, might find their creed represented at Jerusalem, and meet with establishments for their reception, and the performance of their devotion. The Effendi gave no decisive reply.—Ib.
Frankfort-on-the-Oder, Aug. 10th—On the 5th inst., (the Rabbinatscandidat,) Dr. Jos. Isaacson, an orthodox, and eloquent preacher, was elected Rabbi of this congregation.—Ib.
Dr. Z. Frankel.—The Treue Zion’s Wachter contains an address of the Congregation of Wollstein (Posen) to the Chief Rabbi of Dresden, Dr. Frankel, expressive of their admiration of the noble stand which he has made against the undermining attempts of the innovators. The following is a brief extract:—“In opposition to the enemies of Israel and Judaism, you have energetically protected the high import of the Jewish faith, as resting upon divine revelation and historical development. For such pious exertions, and for so noble an activity, every Jewish heart beats with love towards you, and every Jewish mind feels inspired with the most grateful sympathy. We, too, are penetrated with such sentiments, and could not resist the dictates of our hearts, herewith to give expression to them. May these lines, therefore, afford you a small proof of our high esteem and deep-felt gratitude; and we pray the Almighty that he may long preserve you for the welfare of our holy religion, and gird you with strength further to guard the sanctuary of Israel, and the precious heritage of the house of Jacob, against attacks from within and without.”—Ib.
The Orient, of Sept. 12th, contains two similar addresses sent to Dr. Z. Frankel, by the congregations of Stettin and Pleshen, (Duchy of Posen,) and the reply of Dr. Frankel to the address sent to him from Breslau, (through the instrumentality of Dr. Gratz, a man of solid erudition and high literary fame.) We learn from the Orient, that Dr. G. is to be elected Rabbi of Schwerin.—Ib.
Mr. G. Weil, librarian at Heidelberg, one of our most distinguished orientalists, has been appointed professor to the university of that town. This is the second professorship conferred upon a Jew by a German University.—Ib.
Died on Tuesday morning, 4th November, at 3½ o’clock, Sarah, daughter of Benjamin and Anne Jonas, late of Teignmouth, England, and wife of Morris Moses. Aged 50 years.
This lady came to Cincinnati, twenty-eight years ago, and the first Jewess that permanently resided in the city. She was universally beloved and respected, for her amiable and good qualities, and richly she deserved it. She was always ready to relieve the distressed, either by charity, or assisting at the bedside of the sick. Her loss will be deeply felt by her family and friends, for many, many years to come.