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בס"ד

To Our Readers.

 

We deem the present occasion a fit opportunity to say a few words concerning the right of correspondents for our work. We appeal to all who have honoured the Occident with their perusal, whether we have not given all sorts of persons the full privilege of our work, when even we differed from their views. Nevertheless, there is a class of articles which cannot claim the freedom of the press which we conduct, namely, that which relates merely to personal matters. For all discussions of this kind lead to no good result, and leave matters precisely where they found them. Hence it was with extreme regret that we discovered that the short notice of the Rev. Mr. Isaacs’ new congregation led to a rejoinder, to which, as matters stood, we gave publicity. Consequently, we could not refuse to let Mr. Isaacs reply, especially as he was the party who suffered most in the contest, even assuming that he was absolutely to blame in the course which he had pursued. To this letter we received, in September, a rejoinder, which we thought ourself not called upon to print, as it dealt in conjectures, and contained certain things which appeared more like a determination to put Mr. Isaacs down than a justification of the course pursued by those who had suspended him. The very fact of suspending Mr. Isaacs by a vote of a part of his former congregation was the utmost punishment which they could reasonably inflict, and we did not deem it generous in them to follow up the contest. We accordingly wrote a letter to the gentleman who had transmitted the communication, giving our reason at length for refusing to insert it in our October number. But during that month an appeal was made to us by the same gentleman, detailing the position they were placed in by Mr. Isaacs’ letter, and the injury it would do them if his statements were left unnoticed, in the obtainment of a good minister in Europe. We, therefore, extracted from the communication all that we thought requisite to accomplish this end, and have, at the same time, the opinion of the Supreme Court of New York, affirming the right of the claimants of membership to this privilege; thus, in fact, sustaining the position the present congregation of Benai Jeshurun had taken. This was entirely conformable with the opinion which we had frequently expressed in private, thinking that the congregation had no right to make a law repugnant to the general state law under which they acted. Now, by printing that report and our remarks, we had to add twelve extra pages to our usual monthly issue, at a considerable additional cost, which we cheerfully did as a matter of justice to the parties interested. We really thought that our general readers have had enough of the controversy, and therefore advised all to let the matter drop. But we were doomed to disappointment; for a few days ago we received a letter from the Secretary of the congregation containing a resolution adopted at a congregation meeting, held on the 17th of October, as follows:

“Whereas, a communication under the signature of ‘S. M. Isaacs’ appeared in the September number of the Occident, which, through its misrepresentations, may have a tendency to create a prejudice abroad against this congregation, therefore,

Resolved, That the answer read this day be sent to the Editor of the Occident for publication in that periodical, or as a supplement thereto,” &c.

We have been offered payment for printing the communication as an advertisement; but the reasons already assigned will prevent us from complying, much as we must necessarily regret to disoblige a number of our subscribers, and a respectable congregation. That article can never appear in the Occident—it is too intemperate; and, besides this, we gave all that the congregation could affect by it under our hand in the November number, of which the meeting held two weeks previous could know nothing. Again we say that we regret being compelled to take this stand; but let it also be understood that our resolution is taken without the knowledge of the reverend gentleman who is the subject of this; and that his control over our pages is not greater than the gentleman who sent us the resolve of the meeting. Both have been correspondents; and when their articles are such as to be generally useful, they will find a place; but, if otherwise, they will not be received. The Occident is our private property, and every subscriber has an equal right with any other, but no more. Our independent course has lost us hitherto a few subscribers, and probably, also, a few lukewarm friends. But, having assumed the duty of an editor of a religious paper, our object shall always be to promote peace, and to diffuse the truths of our faith; and, when we cannot do this, we will retire from our post, and leave the Occident to join the things that have been. We trust that we have said enough to satisfy all of the correctness of our determination—even the members of the congregation Benai Jeshurun; but, if we have not, we may be sorry to have given unintentional offence; still we cannot forego our resolution, which has been taken impartially, without fearing one party, or asking the least favour from the other.

We hope that the good sense of our friends in New York will convince them, that we could not without exposing them and ourself to severe animadversion, give currency to their article; for it would be regarded as a species of persecution, and we should receive just censure for permitting our periodical to be made the instrument. The world will, despite of every thing which can be said, think of the occurrences, which are deplorable in every way, as a wrong done by both parties; hence we beg them not to agitate the subject any farther through the press, and to excuse us, for not being able to agree with them on the necessity of a further vindication.