|Vol. VI, No. 2
Iyar 5608, May 1848
London, 3 March, 1848-5608.
The interest in the Jewish Emancipation question has given way for the present to the all-exciting and absorbing subject of the French Revolution. And the public journals are too much taken up with what is now occupying the profound attention of the whole civilized globe, to spare room for continuing, some their attacks against, and others their defending of the Bill. Since my last, the second reading has come off with something like the same result as the first reading. Sir Robert Peel’s speech in support, is considered to have been one in every way worthy of his great reputation. The subject may truly be said to have given occasion to some of the best speeches which have been delivered this session. Monday evening next, (6th inst.,) is fixed for going into committee on the Bill, which will be its last ordeal previous to final adop<<104>>tion by the Lower House. What will be the decision of the Lords on the question, it is impossible to say as yet. Some of those best able to form a judgment appear to entertain apprehensions as to its success. When it is reflected that the new Republic of France has chosen two Jews as members of its Provisional Government, it may be expected that some of our High Church Peers will take alarm lest equal pre-eminence be given to some Jews in this country, so soon as the legal barrier to their eligibility to high political offices shall be removed. Would that the English Jews, by reason of their great abilities or high mental qualifications could give sufficient warrant for that fear; not but that after we have been upon an equal political footing with our Christian fellow-subjects for a few years, we shall be enabled to furnish our quota of statesmen or other great characters consistently with our numerical proportion. For it has never been denied that wherever the Jews have been permitted to start fair in any pursuit with their Gentile fellows, they have rarely been found the last to reach the goal, and it would be easy to cite many examples where they have been the first.
That matter concerning the late Mr. Elkin has not yet been allowed to drop by the secession community, for I find that the Jewish Chronicle has inserted in some of its late numbers, one or two letters on the subject, all condemnatory of the Chief Rabbi and Synagogue authorities. It is surprising with what tenacity a justly discarded body will sometimes cling to a grievance, in the hope, 1 suppose, that the excess of severity exercised towards them, will induce so much sympathy from the public as to keep them quite unmindful of the occasion for any censure whatever. It does not happen in this case that the authorities have even been unduly severe. The Chief Rabbi had no alternative under the circumstances, as every dispassionate inquirer might readily ascertain. From what has come to my knowledge, it is evident that a grievance was intended to be got out of the matter—since Burton Street authorities first applied to the Great Synagogue for their minister to attend the funeral officially, and when that was rejected and the only conditions for burying the body in the grounds of the Great Synagogue was named by Dr. Adler, when applied to, which was that the second officer instead of the first should perform the funeral ceremony, the seceders stuck to another condition, which they were certain would not be complied with, and thus of course they secured the grievance[?] which they wanted. I should not have revived this subject, which two of my former letters have already referred to, but that it has not yet ceased to excite attention in the community, and much misrepresentation and exaggeration has been allowed to go forth, without correction or contradiction.
<<105>>There has been another attempt made by the יחידים of the Portuguese Congregation to de-excommunicate the Portuguese members of the Burton Street community—by the following resolution: “That every person who may have incurred the penalty of ‘Herem,’ by an infraction of the old Ascama of Kaal (resolution of the Board,) No. 1 (now repealed), shall do longer be considered under that penalty, but subject only to the same pains and disqualifications, as are in force against the members of the Burton Street place of worship, under the Declaration of the Ecclesiastical authorities of the United Congregations.” Though the resolution was most ably supported by the most influential and enlightened members of the congregation, it was only carried by a majority of one. And as it will have to be confirmed by another meeting, the success is very doubtful.
There is so little stirring just now of interest in the community that I will not protract my letter.