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בס"ד

News Items.

 

Philadelphia.—We have received an official notice from the Secretary of the Congregation Beth Israel, that the congregation have purchased the property adjoining on the south the Catholic church in North Fourth Street near Vine. The lot extends back to Crown Street, on which street it is intended to erect a Synagogue. This building will constitute the third house especially dedicated to the worship of the One; the new German congregation occupying a part of a large structure as a temporary place of worship, and doubtlessly will erect, before many years, a Synagogue of their own; since daily new men arrive among us, and the old established places will not be able to hold all those who call on the Lord God of Israel. We wish them all success.

Society of Mercy and Truth, of Philadelphia.—The following officers were duly elected, October 4, 1847, for the חברה חסד ואמת Society of Mercy and Truth, to serve during the current year: President, Joseph Levi; Vice-President, Isaac Cohen; Treasurer, H. Van Beil; Secretary and Collector, D. A. Phillips; Committee, Julius Davidson, Samuel Pagel, Isaac Myers, Adolph Highburg; Physician, Dr. S. MacClellan; Apothecary, Dr. Robert Killduff.

New York. Formation of a New Society.—With the increase of population, the wants of the people increase likewise, and it is gratifying to observe that the means are not always wanting to supply the new demands. Our readers will recollect that in our last month’s issue we hinted at the necessity of establishing loan offices. We did not then know how soon the thing would meet with actual fulfillment; but it proves that the want of which we spoke must have struck other minds as well as our own, as we cannot think that our hint gave the first impulse to the movement. But to the point. On the first day of Tebeth (the 8th of December last), being the festival of Hanuckah, a number of young men associated themselves, under the name of the Bachelors’ Hebrew Benevolent Loan Association of New York; and they held their election for officers on the 16th December, at which the following officers were chosen: Lewis M. Morrison, President; D. N. Morange, Vice-President; Benjamin J. Hart, Treasurer; George Godfrey, Honorary Secretary; and Angel H. Jacobs, Henry Josephi, Barah Seligman, Edward Heilbuth, Aaron S. Solomon, David I. Levy, and L. S. <<509>>Barrett, Managers.—The object of the society is to give charity, and to grant small loans to all indigent persons professing Judaism; one-fourth of the funds raised is to constitute a permanent fund; one-fourth to be devoted to benevolent purposes, and one-half to be loaned out as above. The list before us contains the names of thirty-six young men, several of whom are personally known to us, and we hazard little in saying, that, if properly managed, and prudence and care are employed in making the contemplated loans, this society will effect a greater good than any other yet existing in New York. When the constitution and by-laws reach us in a printed form, we shall be able to speak of the project with more certainty. The number of members already exceeds forty, and is said to be daily increasing. We wish them success in their good work, and hope that they will not weary in doing good.

The Ladies’ Benevolent Society of New York, connected with the Portuguese congregation, gave, as we learn from various sources, on Thursday, the 2d of December, a dinner and ball at Constitution Hall, in the above city. It was indeed a novel thing for ladies to appear at a public dinner, and hence the plan met with some opposition at first; but its successful execution will probably lead to its repetition another year. The dinner was provided under the special supervision of the managers of the Society, and was presided over by Judge Noah. Much hilarity prevailed, and the donations received that evening proved that the guests were not unmindful of the cause of the poor which had brought them together. The entire proceeds amounted to between thirteen and fourteen hundred dollars, leaving about one thousand dollars after defraying the expenses. After the dinner was finished, the room was cleared, when the lighter amusement of the dance was added to the more solid repast previously enjoyed. The managers of the ball were Messrs. E. B. Hart, Benjamin Nathan, Montague Hendricks, Isaac Moses, jr., Daniel Seixas, Alfred Jacobs, Lionel Moses, and Alfred Tobias. The number of the guests present was between two and three hundred, and all appeared satisfied with the good work to which they had contributed, and the pleasures which had been prepared for them by the worthy ladies who constitute the board of managers, who, we learn, are Mrs. I. B. Kursheedt, First Directress; Mrs. Harmon Hendricks, Second Directress; Mrs. Harriet Hendricks, Treasurer, and Miss Sophia Tobias, Secretary.

N. B. We would with pleasure have given a place to a letter of “A Subscriber,” giving many particulars of the above, had he but ap<<510>>pended his name; as it is, we give the information as it has reached us from other sources.

Baltimore.—On the evening of the 8th of December, the Israelites of Baltimore gave an elegant ball in aid of the Hebrew Benevolent Society of that place. We are informed that there were present about two hundred Christians, and a much larger number of Israelites, and everything was conducted so as to give general satisfaction. The net proceeds, as far as ascertained by the executive committee, (we regret not being able to give the names of these gentlemen, as they are not mentioned in the letters before us,) on the 19th ult., amounted to upwards of five hundred dollars, quite a large sum, it being the first time that the experiment for raising a charity fund, by this means, was attempted in. Baltimore.

Charleston.—The Rev. Mr. Poznanski has signified his intention to retire from the ministry of the Reform Synagogue, so soon as a proper successor can be obtained, for which purpose the congregation have sent out circulars, inviting candidates to apply for said office. The particulars will be found in our Advertiser for this month, to which we invite the attention of those who may feel inclined to become the minister of that congregation, among whom there are many for whom we have a high personal regard, although we utterly condemn the schedule of the reforms which is appended to the advertisement. As there are probably none in this country who come up to the qualifications required, we invite the especial notice of European journals to the subject; perhaps their mentioning it, may attract the attention of some who are both able and willing to occupy the post which is about to become vacant.

Tribute of Respect to Grace Aguilar, at Charleston, S. C.—The Ladies of Charleston have done themselves honour, by noticing in proper terms the decease of the author of the “Spirit of Judaism” and other good books; and it gives us a mournful satisfaction, to be made the medium of laying the resolves before the Jewish public, having been favoured with them for that purpose by the secretary, Mrs. C. A. Moïse.

“At a meeting held at the Tabernacle, in Hasell Street, by the Ladies of the Society for the Religious Instruction of Jewish Youth, the following tribute to the memory of Miss Aguilar was offered, and the concluding resolutions adopted.

“The Sovereign of the Universe has summoned one of his best end most faithful subjects to the kingdom of the blest. Grace Aguilar has been called away from the holy exercises in which her life was en<<511>>gaged, to be promoted to the fellowship of immortals—and to take part in the more hallowed service of the heavenly host. At the announcement of her departure, the whole house of Israel rises up to honour the memory of our spiritual kinswoman—whose soul seemed divinely commissioned to execute Truth’s righteous embassy. The sling of the son of Jesse was not wielded with more power and effect against the scorner of his people, than was the pen of this champion of our faith, against that giant Prejudice, whose shadow blackens the earth. Every particle in the sand-glass that measured her brief existence, seemed to borrow lustre from the light of an intellect that basked for ever in the glowing atmosphere of religious enthusiasm. Her devotional offering was more costly than the oblation of the temple builder—a life consecrated to sacred culture, until ceaseless labour laid its fragile framework in ruins! The sinews of her mind shrank not even while she wrestled with the angel of death. Blessed may she be, when the day breaketh in the ‘better land.’ It is said that Providence withdraws some to make room for others. Where shall that other be found, who can properly fill the station of this moral governess of the Hebrew family? Yet we mourn not for her as for the dead! The world contains no vault for virtue—that living builds its own monument—and when the vital breath is yielded up, sends from each kindred heart the voice of its spirit, to perpetuate its glorious ministry. While Judah deplores the disappearance of a star that enlightened him in his pilgrimage, let him direct his step by the luminous track—the reflective radiance yet lingering in the sphere it moved in, and he cannot fail to find cheering guidance in his mortal progress. We will not here descant upon her works, but content ourselves with saying, that pages pure as hers, might form a fitting preface to the book of peace and perfect faith. We can never entirely cancel the debt due to this distinguished daughter of Israel—yet, we reverentially fill the censer of gratitude, and waving it over her grave,

Resolve, unanimously, That the death of our gifted sister, Grace Aguilar, must be regarded as a national calamity; and that no demonstration of respect, however high, can convey an adequate sense of the exalted estimation in which we hold her character, or of the profound regret with which we received the tidings of her dissolution.

“On motion of a member, it was further

“Resolved, That a copy of this tribute be sent to The Occident for insertion, and that the bereaved family of the deceased be also furnished with one.

“The foregoing proceedings were then entered upon the minutes by

C. A. Moïse, See. and Treasurer.”

<<512>>Louisville, Kentucky.—In our November number we gave a brief account of the congregation “Adas Israel” of Louisville, and stated that they proposed erecting a Synagogue, if they could obtain the means by the aid of the liberal among their brothers throughout the country. Since then they have sent out circular letters to the various heads of congregations, and having ourself received a copy, we think we cannot serve their purpose better than by inserting it entire in this month’s number. The circular sets forth the claims of the Israelites of Kentucky on the benevolence of all Jews, in so clear a light that we need not add any comments of our own; all we hope is, that their appeal may not be in vain.

“The undersigned having been appointed a committee by the congregation, ‘Adas Israel,’ of Louisville, Kentucky, for the purpose of soliciting aid towards erecting a building wherein they may offer their prayers to the God of their forefathers—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob:

“Respectfully beg leave to tender their reasons for applying for assistance to other congregations and their co-religionists. Louisville being situated immediately above the falls in the Ohio river, receives a vast portion of the floating population of our brethren at certain periods of the year (more particularly at the Holy Days), from most of the Southwestern States, who, with the inhabitants, constitute an aggregate of nearly four hundred Israelites; with sorrow and shame we state, that there is among this community No suitable or regular place wherein to worship the ‘God of Israel.’

“The young and rising are debarred, by necessity, participating with adults in their devotions: youth have not the example of their parents, and grow to manhood in ignorance of our customs and manner of worship: parents have not the gratification of witnessing their offspring tender their thanks to the ‘Giver of all good.’

“We have, therefore, determined to grapple with the evil, and, if possible, conquer it; and intend using all endeavours to erect a House of God, commensurate with our wants, and available for the purposes intended, viz.: the worship of our God according to the orthodox principles of Judaism. Having thus, we trust, convinced you of the necessity of our having a place of worship in this city, we beg to present the claims on which we rely for assistance, and which induce us to ask aid from our fellow-citizens and co-religionists.

“This congregation has been chartered by the ‘Commonwealth of Kentucky,’ now nearly eleven years; during which time, by hard struggles, the income has been barely made to cover the expenses. The members at present number about sixty; they pay, on an average, $10 per annum,—which sum is entirely absorbed by salaries to the <<513>>Pastor, Schochat, and Shamas’ rent of room, and incidentals. Most of the members are of the humble class—men of worth, but not of wealth—who earn their bread by the sweat of their brow; emigrants from Germany mostly, who have fled from tyranny and oppression, and have chosen an asylum in this land of toleration; and however much they may be inclined to bring forward their free-will offering, are, in many instances, totally incapacitated, without manifest injury to themselves and families; and, in other cases, the ability is so limited, that we fear, if we do not meet with liberal aid, our work cannot go forward.

“To those inclined to assist us, we would, however, say, that whatever may be sent, can only be used for the legitimate purposes asked for, viz.: the erection of a Synagogue, and payment for the lot on which the same is built. An early reply to either of the annexed Committee, is respectfully requested, by

Joseph  Abraham, President; A. Tandler, Vice-President; M. Strauss, Committee.

“Louisville, Kentucky, October, 1847.”

Montreal.—The Canadian Israelites at the capital of British North America, are not behind their neighbours in progress; we mean religious success, not arbitrary changes. The minister has succeeded in interesting his audience, not alone by his mode of reading the service, but also by his sermons, which are received with due attention. An extract of a letter from a late visiter speaks in terms of approval of the great decorum prevalent during service, and the proper manner in which the congregation join the chaunting of the prayers. It is only about a year since Mr. De Sola arrived there; and already several months ago, one of his pupils, a son of the Parnass, read an Haphtorah with great propriety.—During the past summer, many poor emigrants, mostly from Germany, to the number of thirty, many with families, received the bounty of the benevolent society lately established. The number of emigrants from Germany is said to have been unprecedentedly large.—At the late election, the following gentlemen were elected officers of the congregation: J. G. Ascher,* Parnass; Dr. A. H. David,* President; Jesse Joseph, Treasurer; and S. Benjamin, Simon Hart, John Levy,* and Levy Myer Solomon,* Trustees. (Those marked * were re-elected.) It is but due to state that the President and Parnass have given universal satisfaction to their constituents, and the board, as a whole, is acceptable to the members.

Curaçoa.—We have before us a letter, under date of Nov. 4th, from our correspondent, Mr. O. M. Da Costa, of Curaçoa, giving us the following details of the state of that congregation, for which we are deeply <<514>>indebted to him, and we hope, at the same time, that he will, before long, furnish us with a succinct history of that ancient Kahal, one of the oldest in America, being only, as far as known to us, second to New York. “We have a congregation of from nine hundred to one thousand persons, all told, though I believe we have had a larger number than we now have, being reduced in consequence of the great emigration to all the West India Islands, and the different ports of Venezuela, more particularly Coro, the Israelites of which, I may say, are all natives of Curaçoa, and who amount, as stated in the letter of Mr. Brandao, to one hundred and fifty souls. Our Synagogue is the largest and most substantial edifice of the kind in the West Indies, and I am in doubt if I may not say the most elegant; it is one hundred and seventeen years old, and has never needed repairs from the time it was built, except a little painting, &c., from time to time, and is in first-rate order; the wood used in it being so superior to anything we can get now. From the government we enjoy equal rights with all the subjects of his Majesty the King of Holland; no Christian creed of any denomination enjoys a privilege which we do not. Many gentlemen of our persuasion fill the highest stations in the administration, such as members of the council and other hosts of honour, directors of the government bank, &c. We are also allowed by H. M. the King, one thousand guilders per annum from the colonial chest towards our annual expenses, which are very great, in consequence of the large number of poor we have, besides many other expenses incident to so large a congregation. Our income is raised by fintas (taxes), which, owing to the large amount which is absolutely necessary to defray the expenses, fall very heavy on many. In the regular army and navy, and in the local militia, there are many of our persuasion, holding all grades; they pay due respect to their holy days, the right being accorded them by law. We have also a most beautiful burying-ground, about two and a half to three miles from town; it can be reached either by land or water; it is even older than the Synagogue, and contains some of the most elegant sculptured white marble tombstones that can be found anywhere, and which could hardly be believed, without being seen. But, unfortunately, the ancients were not particular about order and regularity in laying out the ground; and the consequence is, that the cemetery is filled with beautiful tombstones, many of which are broken, for want of a road to pass with the corpses of those that die now. It therefore happens, that both corpses, and new monuments to be put up, have to be hauled over the ancient tombs, and is the cause of damage being done to the latter. It is a great evil, and very evident to any stranger, at a first entrance, in having before him a large space filled with magnificent ruins. This <<515>>ground also contains many beautiful old trees, and is, in fact, such a spot that the most fastidious need not disdain to choose it as his resting-place. What we most and really want here, are proper schools and spiritual guides. We are almost as badly off, unfortunately, as though we had none, and our children must feel the evil effects when they come to maturity. I wish you could induce some respectable married pair to come here and. set up either a day or boarding-school, to teach English, French, music, &c., and the theological studies of our religion. Such a school, I am sure, would answer very well. The government of our Synagogue is carried on by the Juntas of Mangamad and Viellos; but they can only strictly follow what is called an Ascama, or book of instructions, recommended by the High Clerical Commission, which sits in Amsterdam, and that sanctioned by H. M. the King: and from this we cannot deviate; though there are many points in these regulations which are considered obscure, and liable to be differently explained; and as we cannot boast of being a very brotherly community, it is often the cause of misunderstanding and party feelings, which, unfortunately, is now the case; and God knows when we shall all be in harmony again, an event much to be desired. I believe you are aware that our Minhag is the Portuguese.” So far Mr. Da Costa; and we assure him that though not as full of details as he hoped to furnish, his statement is of great interest to us, and no doubt to all those who desire to be acquainted with the internal affairs of our various congregations. We trust, at the same time, that the Israelites of Curaçoa may soon have complete peace among them, and be moreover blessed with the possession of those guides and teachers whom they need, to point out to them the ways of science in connexion with the path of salvation.

Prussia.—The obscurity which we noticed in the law granting certain privileges to the Jews, respecting their being appointed teachers in academic establishments, would seem, from a later account since received, to mean, that they are not permitted to exercise the functions of a teacher in elementary schools, or preparatory colleges, leaving them only the appointment of professorship in universities, and this only in as far as the statutes of the different institutions do not prohibit such appointments, which it is said, however, is the case only in the University of Berlin. So that the concession of offices of any kind is nothing but a nominal one, since a Jew cannot be a judge, an executive, or police officer, nor a public teacher, except in the University, and that peculiar class of educational establishments mentioned in November. It is, however, a great evidence of progress, that in a subsequent portion of the decree, the Jews are permitted to carry on any trade or business, even those especially interdicted to them by the law of the 17th <<516>>January, 1745 (a law of exclusion full a century old), provided only that with the exercise thereof is not connected any police or executive power. Jews are obliged to have fixed and hereditary family names. They are to use the languages of the country in their books of entry, and to employ German or Latin letters. (This clause is against the use of Hebrew or Jewish-German [Yiddish], and the employment of the letters called Jewish-German.) Account books, not in accordance with this clause, are to be of no power as legal proof in favour of the Jew. In the making of contracts or testamentary bequests in written transactions, Jews are to use only the German or some other living language, and German or Latin letters. A transgression of this order or the omission of family names, is punishable by a fine of 50 Prussian dollars, or an imprisonment of six weeks in a common jail. Jews are now also for the first time admissible as witnesses in all cases, both civil and criminal, equally with other subjects of the Prussian dominions. The above are all the privileges which are granted to the Jews; the other clauses of the law relate to domestic pursuits, and the regulations concerning worship, &c., all of no interest whatever, except to those immediately interested. Foreign Jews are not allowed to settle in Prussia, before the obtainment of naturalization papers, without the consent of the minister of the home department, not even as Rabbis, officers of the Synagogue, clerks, journeymen, apprentices, or servants. A transgression of this order is punishable in both the native and foreigner, should the latter have remained more than six weeks, with a fine of 20 to 300 Prussian dollars, or a proportionate imprisonment.