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Philadelphia.—Singular proceedings have of late characterized the meetings of the oldest congregation in Philadelphia, with respect chiefly to the office of minister, held by the editor of this magazine, for the last twenty-one years and six weeks, without the least impeachment of his character. It has been his misfortune to have among his congregation a few persons who were opposed to him at his first coming hither, (not by his becoming a candidate for the office, but by the invitation of a large portion of the people,) and who left then no means untried to prevent his being elected, by a motion of postponing the election on the 6th of September, 1829, to such a period, that it would have been impossible for him to consent to wait for it. Now though this effort was unsuccessful, and Mr. Leeser was elected by a vote almost unanimous (26 to 7), the persons in question did not cease their efforts at annoyance and opposition, and at every fitting opportunity they showed that their darling scheme had not been abandoned, and that they were resolved either to make him retire, or to render his stay unpleasant and dishonourable. Still having been chosen again for five years in 1831, the opposition had to be satisfied with a tacit and an unseen, although not unfelt, undercurrent. But when this second term was about expire in 1836, an attempt was made to elect him for one year with a reduced salary; and though a motion to amend the original resolution, substituting three years for one and one thousand for eight hundred <<427>>dollars, was carried, still the resolution as amended was lost; by which means no minister was, actually speaking, in office for the year 5597, Mr. Leeser having consented to serve upon invitation of the then Parnass, until such time that the congregation could meet after the holydays, and make good the defects of the annual meeting, which takes place according to law, on the Sunday before the eve of Rosh Hashanah.

Suspecting nothing wrong, and not dreaming that the resolution originally offered by the late Zalegman Phillips, Esq., was intended to keep the office merely temporarily filled till a new candidate could be brought forward in the course of twelve months, Mr. Leeser performed the service as usual during the festivals, and immediately thereafter went on a visit to New York. He thinks that it was during his absence of two weeks that a meeting was held, and he was re-engaged for one year at one thousand dollars; but the resolution adopted to this effect was never communicated to him, and he merely acted, therefore, under the invitation of the Parnass, as stated above, though he would have refused accepting the term of one year had an official communication been made to him. Why it was not done he is unable to say, as it would evidently have been indelicate in him to make any inquiries on the subject. No one can accuse him of wrong, if, in the simplicity of his heart, he acted without reflecting on the consequence necessarily resulting from his compliance with the request of the Parnass; as he deemed himself the choice of the congregation, notwithstanding that, by a parliamentary blow, which he was assured by one who helped to kill the resolution as amended, was not understood by the people, the resolution of election had been negatived, when coming up for confirmation by the meeting.

Mr. Leeser has no access to the minute-book of the Kahal, and he writes merely from memory; but the anonymous author of a scurrilous pamphlet, giving a professed review of the difficulties of the congregation with Mr. Leeser, can easily correct this misstatement in these pages if any such should occur; on one thing the reader may rely, that these impressions were general at the time, and they are unquestionably substantially correct.

Before the expiration of the ninth year of his ministry, however, a new feature was witnessed for the first time in the annals of the congregation, in the presence of an opposition candidate in the person of Mr. Jacques J. Lyons, now the reverend Hazan of the Kahal Shearith Israel of New York. It is not now intended to do more than give a rapid sketch of passing events; wherefore all details must be omitted.

Enough, that all that calumny and electioneering from house to house <<428>>could effect was done to insure Mr. Lyons’ success, whilst Mr. Leeser, abiding true to his principle, that a clerical office should not be sought but be bestowed on the most deserving, remained perfectly quiescent, notwithstanding which, and Mr. Lyons having six family votes, Mr. Leeser was elected by 22 to 11 for Mr. Lyons, and 3 blanks, the president not voting. This was probably the largest meeting ever convened in this body; and therefore gave a full expression of the public sentiment. But as Mr. Lyons had offered to serve for a lower salary than had been allowed hitherto, advantage was taken to propose a term of three years, and a salary of $800. When a committee informed the Hazan of his re-election he at once objected to the reduction, and accepted the office merely provisionally, until such time that the people might be summoned again together to deliberate calmly on the difference of emolument, the reduction not being excusable by any deficiency in the treasury.

But this quiet settlement of the question was not permitted to take place; but a by-law of the congregation which, as far as is known to the writer, had never been hitherto enforced, either in his own case or that of others, was raked up from its slumbers, to force him either to resign or to accept the terms offered without the possibility of a revision. This is the requirement of a contract from the minister in which his duties are specified, which he is to perform under a penalty.

The aim of the movement being perfectly evident, Mr. Leeser refused to sign such a paper as was presented to him. He declines now entering into a criticism of the terms in which it is worded, as this would require too much space; it is sufficient for a general understanding of the question that he regarded it, as it was, in the light of an act of tyranny unworthy of the congregation and himself. Being threatened that a meeting should be called together to act on his recusancy, he was perfectly willing that it should be done; as he had no objection that Mr. Lyons should be elected in his place, if the people desired him in preference.

Whilst, however, the matter was agitating the public mind, the friends of the acting Hazan so wrought upon his feelings, that he was induced to refer the question for decision to his late venerable uncle, Zalma Rehiné of Baltimore, who advised him to sign; whereupon he yielded to the almost command of his nearest relative, and the bond was signed. It was, however, understood that efforts should be made to restore his salary; his friends brought the requisite motions forward, but they were severally defeated through the parliamentary skill of Messrs. Zalegman and Henry M. Phillips.

<<429>>
At the expiration of the term of three years Mr. Leeser was re-elected for ten years at a salary of $1250 per annum; and again the bond was forced through after much contention, but only again in obedience to the advice of Mr. Rehiné.

The influence which was brought to bear upon the question was so evident to every one, that none could doubt the impropriety of having such a law upon the statute-book of the congregation; for instead of the office of minister being one of pleasant connexion between him and his flock, he is, by signing a bond, degraded in his own estimation; as he confesses that, were it not for this, he would not perform the duties for which be is elected, and would be, if he could, disobedient to the laws. In consequence, therefore, when he thought that the public mind was sufficiently calmed down, Mr. Leeser wrote a letter to the congregation, calling their attention to the propriety of repealing the by-law which demands the enforcement of the bond. But a committee appointed to take into consideration various measures, reported on this branch that it was inexpedient to repeal this questionable provision of their statutes, and the congregation, it is supposed, acquiesced in their judgment, as nothing has been since heard of the subject.

The term of his service was, in the meanwhile, drawing to a close; and as Mr. Leeser was perfectly willing to stay in office provided it could be done with honour, he prevailed upon a friend to offer a by-law which should contain the duties incident to the ministry, which would thus obviate any plea for the necessity of a bond. The project is contained in the Occident, vol. vii., pp. 569-572, and we request the attention of all candid men to decide whether, had it passed, the congregation would not have had full control over the minister, whilst he would have been instructed at once, on his becoming a candi­date, of what was demanded of him, without being informed, perhaps by an unfriendly board, after his election of the duties he is to perform.

Of course it is not for us to form any opinion why such a reasonable proposition was not even taken into consideration, and was rejected without debate or inquiry. Enough, it was to us evident that the party opposed to Mr. Leeser’s continuance in office had, for the time, obtained the ascendency, or that, what amounts to the same, those opposed to him had obtained influence enough to make his stay in office unpleasant. Believing this firmly, we wrote the piece headed Philadelphia in the October Number of our seventh volume, in which we foreshadowed that we might retire from office before long, and only begged the public abroad not to blame us for our opposition to an unjust law.

We will not enter into a defence of our publication; but we may <<430>>say that it was quite unexpected that the Board of the congregation, on motion of J. A. Phillips, Esq., should pass a vote of censure on Mr. L. as editor of the Occident, in which capacity he was not amenable to the Board by any law express or implied. Mr. L. received the proceedings on the 23d of October last; but as he thought the Board had transcended their power, he could not degrade himself by either deprecating their wrath, or offering any explanation or apology; as, if he had done any wrong, he was amenable to his constituents, those who had elected him no less than the Board. Thus the matter stood till the spring meeting of the congregation on the 24th of March, when Mr. J. A. Phillips called up the resolutions of the Board, and Mr. Henry M. Phillips (his brother) moved that the congregation approve of them, which was done by a vote (as we have learned from the scurrilous pamphlet in question, and which evidently proceeds from a member of the Board, and one who has a free access to the minute-books of the Board and the corporation) of 22 to 11; but it is curious to observe that neither at the Board nor general meeting was the Hazan or editor summoned to explain himself, or to offer any defence, if be had such to make.

Mr. L. was thus virtually disgraced in the eyes of his constituents, as guilty of “misconduct deserving the severest animadversion and reproof,” and a letter of remonstrance which he sent to the Parnass under date of April 11th, has to this day not been officially laid before the general meeting, though the congregation has been convened three times since then. On referring to the Occident for May, an advertisement will be found inviting candidates to come forward for the office of Hazan, for an election to be held on the 16th of June. It must be observed, that when the series of resolutions, as we presume they are, was offered for action, it was stated by the Parnass, on authority, that Mr. Leeser could not accept office under those terms, but that in order to give the congregation time to elect a proper successor he would be willing to stay six months after the expiration of his time.

No notice was taken of this statement; but the resolutions were carried by a majority of votes, and the vote of censure was confirmed as above. One clause especially offensive was added, that the them, in addition to the old bond, should sign “that he would in all things be true to the Jewish laws.” Is it possible that people would elect a minister who has to be bound by rich a paltry promise? Is he to be a Jew, only because he has given a bond to the Kahal Mikve Israel of Philadelphia?
It is no use to enlarge; and surely, any one knowing Mr. Leeser must have known beforehand that he could never sign any contract with <<431>>such a clause, and hence it was evident at the time that unless the resolutions were repealed, his ministry would terminate on Hoshaanah Rabbah 5611, the 27th of September, 1850.

Another curious feature in the proceedings was, that no one ever dreamt that Mr. L. could be induced to accept the terms proffered, although they were professedly intended for him; it was also certain that no other person would be elected for the period of ten years, al­though the resolutions declared this to be the term agreed upon; nor that the election would be held on the 16th of June, as then announced. This anticipation has been confirmed by the fact, as the election was postponed till the meeting before Paysach 5611, that is, six months after the termination of the time of the present Hazan. It is said that if a vote had been taken, there was a majority of persons present in favour of Mr. Leeser, in consequence of which the office would have been tendered him for acceptance, though he was no candidate; as his friends could have voted for him, there being no law which limits the vote to candidates only. But the motion to postpone had some advocates, for a private threat was held out, “that if Mr. Leeser were elected it would lead to a separation from the Kahal of several of those opposed to him.”

We make no comment, and leave the world at large to think what they like of such a strange opposition.

On the first of September, at length, after the annual elections had been held, which resulted the same as last year, Mr. Henry M. Phillips moved (so we learn) a resolution that the Board be authorized to engage a suitable person to act as Hazan during the expected vacancy of the office. To this an amendment was offered that Mr. Leeser be requested to act, at a salary of 125 dollars per month, till next meeting. To this Mr. H. M. Phillips offered an amendment to substitute twenty-five dollars (twenty-five!) for 125. Was this not a noble proposition, every way worthy of the source whence it sprung! We think so to a certainty; and we believe that it forms the best defence why Mr. L. so strenuously objected to a periodical election, and a bond drawn up by men who can forget the dignity of the congregation, and insult an absent person. Neither proposition was carried, an adjournment having taken place, nothing having been done.

We deem the above simple account due to our character, as it exhibits a brief statement of the cause for our retirement from office, and will satisfy many inquiries constantly made of us. We are ready to publish any counter statement.

We had written thus far on the 18th of September; but having other <<432>>articles to insert, we let it stand over; since then the congregation had another meeting, when a resolution was adopted, as we learn, to authorize the Board of Adjunta to engage a person or persons to read the prayers during the vacancy in the office of Hazan. Without referring to the probable illegality of the proceeding, it sounds strangely that so respectable a body should come to a resolution to have two persons, at least, to read the service. Comment is unnecessary.

Congregation Keneseth Israel Philadelphia.—We learn that the Rev. Mr. Naumburg, lately from Germany, has been elected minister of the new German Synagogue. Report speaks favourably of him.

The Congregation Anshe Emeth In Albany, N. Y.—In consequence of the ill and unjust treatment of the Rev. Dr. Wise, by a party of the congregation Beth-El, in Albany, fifty-six members of this congregation, who were joined by twenty-one Israelites who had not been members of a Synagogue previous to this time, constituted a new congregation, under the name of Anshe Emeth (men of truth). This congregation is now actively employed to build a Synagogue and a school-house, which will be completed as soon as Shebuoth next. At a regular meeting of this congregation (September 1) the following officers were elected:—Mr. Joseph Sporberg, Parnass; Mr. F. Schulz, Cashier; Mr. Maier Stern, A. Westheimer, and T. Klugman, Trustees; D . T. Levy, Shamesh. The Rev. Dr. Wise, who resigned his office in the congregation Beth-El, was then unanimously elected Rabbi of this congregation. The whole choir went over to the new congregation, consequently the divine service, held in a saloon furnished for that purpose, is conducted in the same solemn manner as formerly in the Synagogue Beth-El. The school of Dr. continues to exist with nearly the same number of pupils as before. All difficulties between the two congregations were peaceably settled, and all lawsuits dropped. Brotherly feelings will soon return.

New Orleans.—“The high holydays are past. The attendance at both Synagogues was large. Our temporary place was full both on Rosh Hashanah and Kippur, and order and decorum prevailed. Let us hope that devotion, too, was not wanting. Our Synagogue is now under roof, and the workmen are engaged in constructing the ceiling. One hundred shares, at 850 each, proposed to be issued for the purpose of raising the necessary funds, are all taken, so that no pecuniary embarrassment need be feared.”—Extract from a Letter.