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בס"ד

News Items.

 

Philadelphia.—During the past holydays the various Synagogues were filled, at times, to overflowing with Israelites desirous of testifying, at least once a year, their adherence to our religion, and we hope that many have resolved not to be only annual visitors hereafter. By the by, it seems strange to us that many can satisfy themselves in this way, and not feel that if it is their duty to come once or thrice a year, it must be so on every occasion when the Synagogue is open for  prayer. We regretted to observe in the place where we attended, that many spent the Kippur-day in running in and out; and we must pointedly condemn the practice of paying a round of visits to various places of worship on that solemn day; for such intrusion disturbs the devotion <<426>> of those who are desirous of praying, and results from those who evidently cannot be much interested, or else they would attend to their prayers in the assembly to which they are attached. It is to be hoped that in future these evils will be guarded against as much as possible, and that the worship on the Day of Atonement may not be rendered the most disorderly of all days in the year. We say this in sorrow and not in anger. Would it not be well to have a sermon delivered in place of a mass of useless offerings, and thus retain the people in their seats at a time when they are most inclined to absent themselves. We throw out this suggestion to the heads of the congregations, who for once, we trust, will take our well-meant advice as a rule for their actions. One thing struck us from the crowds that attended the German Synagogue where we lately worship, that a new place of prayer, or more enlarged room in the houses already existing, is absolutely required in Philadelphia to accommodate the people, not alone those who come hither as visitors during the festivals, but the residents themselves. We trust that before long a suitable building may be procured for the accommodation of those who live in the western part of the city, to enable especially the pious ladies and the aged, whom distance often prevents from attending on the Sabbath, to be regular in their presence in the house of God. Such a structure, we are sure, whilst it would promote piety, would not in the least interfere with the prosperity of already existing congregations. We forbear to say more at present.

Bnai Jeshurun Congregation, New York.—On Thursday, the 28th of Elul (25th of September last), the new Synagogue of the late Elm Street congregation, situated in Greene, above Houston Street, was consecrated to the worship of God with the usual solemn rites. We learn from a correspondent, that though the building was consecrated in an unfinished state, the service was highly impressive. The music used was composed by Mr. Louis Leo, originally for the dedication of the St. Alban’s Place Synagogue, London, about twenty years ago, and was exe­cuted by the Rev. Ansel Leo, a brother of the composer, who is, as our readers know, the minister of the congregation. The instrumental music was under the management of Mr. Newstadt. The Synagogue was crowded, and the ladies’ gallery to such a degree that many of the female visitors had to be accommodated in the body of the building, which, by the way, is asserted to be the handsomest of its kind in the country. We, for our part, have not yet seen it, for which we have our reasons; but hope to visit it at a later period. The orchestra was composed of many eminent professors of music. The opening symphony was the overture <<427>> from “Joseph in Egypt,” by Mehul, an opera well known about thirty years ago, though lately a little out of fashion. The chorus, composed of men and boys, and twenty-five strong, was exceedingly well drilled, and performed its part well. Dr. Raphall delivered the dedication sermon, which occupied, we learn, a full hour. A prayer, also, was recited by Dr. R., composed by the late Rabbi Solomon Hirschell, of London, which appears to us to be written in good spirit and excellent style, and altogether superior to many modern productions. But we cannot say the same with regard to the hymn originally written for the St. Alban’s Synagogue, by the late Professor Hysm Hurwitz; nor do we except from this inferiority the stanza adapting the blessing originally conveyed to the King of Britain to the republic; the Hebrew muse, we fear, is not always favourable to those who woo her; but there is one man in the country, no other than Mr. Judah Middleman, now at Cincinnati, who knows how to waken the long-silent lyre. We must, at some future day, give some of his productions, and would have done so long since, were our readers more intimate with the sacred tongue. But to our subject: the assembly did not disperse till they had testified their liberality; as near 2000 dollars was offered to the funds of the congregation, and was, we suppose, quite acceptable. The whole ceremony occupied about three hours and a half. The sermon of Dr. R. was, as a matter of course, attractive; it would be strange if it were not, as the reverend preacher’s reputation is so well established; but the Rev. Mr. Leo also obtained approbation for his portion of the ser­vice, and was presented by the trustees with a liberal sum of money for his exertions. We regret to learn that several invited ministers were absent; for our part we can assure the gentlemen of the congregation, that had they invited us in a proper manner, we would not have been missing on the occasion, which was to them one of joy, and of deep interest to us; we hope to meet them hereafter, when their house is entirely finished.—As no notice has been taken elsewhere of the fact, we deem it our duty to state that a beautiful perpetual lamp of silver (נר תמיד), similar to the one we had made in Philadelphia, for Mr. Touro’s Synagogue at New Orleans, was presented by Mr. M. A. Mitchell of our city, the son of the president of he congregation, Mr. Abraham Mitchell. It is in the shape of the old classical lamp, and is suspended by a silver chain, we think, in front of the ark. A more appropriate and elegant donation could not have been bestowed, and Mr. M. deserves commendation for so endowing the Synagogue over which his father has presided for so many years. On the whole, the <<428>> erection of this splendid structure is another proof of the progress of Jews in America.

Albany.—Dr. Wise’s Synagogue was consecrated on the 3d of October; Dr. Lilienthal of New York was present, and delivered a sermon. We have received no official account, wherefore we cannot communicate any particulars.

Isaac Hart, Esq., of New Orleans.—We lately intimated that Mr. Hart would be presented with a token of regard from the congregation over which he had been president for several years. The presentation took place on Sunday, the 21st of September, and the following extract from the New Orleans Bee will give our readers all the particulars which have reached us:

Presentation of a Silver Pitcher.— On Sunday last, we were witness of a highly-interesting ceremony. Everybody knows Mr. Isaac Hart, of Canip Street, and most persons are aware that he is an active, zealous, and intelligent member of the German Hebrew Congregation of this city. To his unwearied exertions, his liberality, and his unflagging energy, that Congregation is indebted, in a great degree, for its present prosperity, and for the possession of a spacious and beautiful Temple for the worship of the GOD of Israel. Mr. HART retained the honorable post of President of the Congregation, devoting himself to its welfare, until its leading objects were secured. He then resigned his office, leaving to his successors a noble example of the successful fruits of diligence, religious faith, and indefatigable perseverance.

“The members of the congregation, desirous of testifying their grateful appreciation of the efforts of their ex-president, subscribed toward the construction of a massive silver pitcher of exquisite workmanship, having on one side an appropriate inscription, and on the other a beautiful representation of the German Synagogue, and enriched all over with tasteful devices. On Sunday, the officers of the Congregation assembled at Mr. Hart’s residence, and Mr. George G. Levi, on behalf of that body, tendered the pitcher to that gentleman, accompanying the gift with some feeling and eloquent remarks, in which he set forth the valuable services of Mr. Hart, and the high sense of his merits entertained by the association of which he had been selected the interpreter. The donee, in accepting the splendid token, responded warmly and sincerely. He sketched the history and progress of the Congregation, from the days when, obscure and almost nameless, it first struggled into existence, up to the present time, when its members assemble weekly in a noble edifice, consecrated to the Almighty, to <<429>> solemnize their Sabbath and offer up devotion and prayer to the Most High. He claimed little merit for himself, but said, that like a general in battle, he only led his soldiers, while they had won the victory by their courage and resolution. At the conclusion of the ceremony, the gentlemen and ladies present were conducted by Mr. Hart into another room, where they were entertained with cordial and profuse hospitality.”

Montgomery, Alabama.—We are requested to announce that twenty-one Israelites of Montgomery have associated together for the purpose of establishing a charitable institution under the name of the  “Hebrew Benevolent Society.” The names of The members are Sigmund Angel, Albert Binnard, B. Binnard, Isidore Binnard, Michael Binnard, A. Blum, N. B. Royer, S. Cellner, Charles Engers, A. Gugenheim, J. Hausmann, H. Keller, Charles Loeb, Ferdinand Marks, Loeb Marks, Paul Marks, David Reiss, L. W. Reiss, Gustav Sutro, Simon Sutro, and W. Terk. The officers are L. Marks, President; A. Binnard, Vice-President; G. Sutro, Treasurer; L. W. Reiss, Secretary; H. Heller and Charles Engers, trustees.

Lafayette, Indiana.—We learn that in this place, also, a regular congregation has been organized, with a Hazen and Shochet; but we have not ascertained particulars. In Fort Wayne, also, there is a Kahal existing for more than a year. In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and in Detroit, Michigan, we hear there are small congregations; but we have no regular correspondent in any of these places to whom we could apply for information. Can any of our friends oblige us by inquiring what has been done, and sending us the information obtained?

Berlin, Marquette Co., Wisconsin.—Extract of a letter dated October 9th.—“You will undoubtedly be pleased to hear that in the backwoods country there were, on the Day of Atonement, a few of our people assembled to praise the Lord on high. We met, to the number of thirteen, at the house of Mr. Kusel, who lives about twenty miles north of this place, on land belonging to the late Menominnee purchase. So you will see that the land is not even sold yet to actual settlers; and still in that wilderness were a few of God’s chosen ones assembled to praise His name. We had everything to make the day pass off according to ancient usage. There was a Sepher [Torah], as also a Shophar belonging to Mr. Kusel, and we had also, in our small congregation, a Cohen and a Levi; and everything went off to the satisfaction of all present.

Knowing that you take a great interest in all that concerns our holy faith, I send you these few lines, thinking that they will be read with <<430>> pleasure; and if you should see fit to publish the same in the next number of the Occident, you will greatly oblige me.”—We certainly will in this oblige our correspondent, who is also a subscriber; for what else is the object of our work? Is it not to diffuse knowledge of our affair? and who will not be interested in witnessing the fact of the planting of our glorious standard in lands where but lately roamed the savage and resounded the war whoop, and flashed the tomahawk and scalping knife? Cheer up, dear brothers; proceed as you hare begun; read the law of God, sound the Shophar on the days of our solemn assembly, and honour the sons of Aaron and the children of Levi whom the Lord chose as his own; and may He be with you in your outgoing and incoming, as He was with our fathers when they went forth in the desert to be his chosen people.