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בס"ד

To Our Readers

 

In our December number, which was issued in the early part of November, we announced our intention of paying a visit to the Western and Southern congregations, in order to urge in person the claims of this work, among others, on the attention of the Jewish public. It was farthest from our thoughts that our journey should consume more than ten weeks at the utmost, and all our calculations had been made, accordingly, to send out a double number in February, after which we thought we could readily resume our punctual appearance. But we met with constant detentions from the day we left, for many weeks in succes­sion, owing to the early setting in of a severe winter, which pursued our steps far down into the regions of the sunny South, where we looked in vain for that genial weather, except on very few days, which is the famed characteristic of that section of this extensive country. But, though the weather was severe and stormy, though unexpected and almost unprecedented cold was felt all over the land, we met with warm hearts and a friendly reception wherever we went, and much as we often regretted our unavoidable detention from our accustomed labours, we had no cause to repent,—on the whole, that we resolved on the experiment of mingling with the Israelites scattered throughout the country, and to become acquainted with their wants and requirements by personal inspection. Not that we had not ample cause <<2>> to rely with confidence on our various correspondents, who from time to time have favoured us with their communications; but still it was well that we were thus enabled to judge for ourself, and to let many who had never seen us decide for themselves whether our claims to their kind support were well founded or not. And we are happy to state here, that in a great degree our appeal to the public has not been in vain, as the number of our subscribers has increased at least one-third, and also for our other proposed pub­lications we have received a fair portion of public support, so that we hope soon to commence the proposed New Translation of the Scriptures, and to offer before long a specimen of the work to the public for their inspection, and we trust their indulgent judgment.

We will, however, assure our subscribers that we did not stay in any place longer than we could possibly get away, and everywhere we hastened off, though urged to prolong our sojourn. Our interests could no doubt have been subserved by remaining longer among those who showed themselves so kind and hospitable; but we could not think it right to let our subscribers look in vain for our prompt appearance, the moment it was in our power to be at our post again.

We set out on the 9th of November, and returned on the 27th of February, after an absence a nearly sixteen weeks, during which we travelled upwards of five thousand two hundred miles, and visited at least twenty-five settlements or congregations of Israelites, from the shores of Lake Erie to the Gulf of Mexico, and were about forty-one entire or parts of days actually in motion; hence it will be readily understood that we did not spend much idle time, although we were so much longer absent than we calculated on, especially if it is taken in consideration that we were detained by ice at St. Louis during fifteen days, when we only calculated on staying but four. In this manner, too, we were prevented from visiting many points which we might have touched at, and in fact we were compelled to leave much undone which was in our original plan when we first left home.

As regards the quantity of matter which we ought to supply by our agreement with our supporters, many of whom have re<<3>>mained steadfast from the beginning of our labours, now already nine years ago, for which kindness we return them here our sincere thanks, on finding that the labour of furnishing our usual matter would either have overtasked our strength, or delayed our appearance till perhaps too late, We resolved to supply in its stead the celebrated work of the great Mendelssohn, called Jerusalem; which we fervently trust will be to most, if not all, more welcome than anything we could have otherwise furnished. We have said all that is needful in the introduction to the treatise, and we deem it superfluous to offer any apology for doing what we deem best in our humble judgment, confident that we shall meet herein with the indulgence which has been extended to us so often and so long.

Our old readers need not be told again what course we intend to pursue, as the past must be a guarantee for our honesty and faithfulness to the trust reposed in us. But to those who now receive The Occident for the first time, we make the promise, which we trust we shall be enabled to keep, by the aid of the “Shepherd of Israel,” to supply them monthly with such reading as will, to the best of our capacity, furnish them with correct ideas of our religion, and awaken in them thoughts of love towards God, and affection to our fellow-men, of whatever creed they may be; for towards Heaven all Israelites should be faithful sons and daughters of the covenant, but as regards all mankind, they should see in them nothing but brothers and sisters, who of right claim their sympathy and aid in time of need, and their love and attachment both in prosperity and sorrow.

As respects our peculiar religious views, we hold to the ancient landmarks and the observances as they have come down to us from our fathers. These we shall defend and uphold; but we shall not exclude, free discussion, and shall, if desired, admit correspondents to discuss even the fundamental principles of our faith, provided always that they use decorous and becoming language, and that they must take no exception at the same time should we give our views in reply in our usual style. We have full confidence in freedom of discussion, and fear not for the truth in contest with error; and we should be sorry indeed to be accused <<4>> of entertaining an opinion that our cause could suffer from the freest scope given to its elucidation. But we protest against that little-mindedness which could take offence, because, as the conductor of a Jewish free press, we deem it our duty to com­ment on and condemn public acts and congregational matters; for these are a proper theme for discussion, if anything can be. We never attack mere persons in our writings, unless our cause demands it; and when men have made themselves obnoxious by any public wrong against the interests of Judaism, they must not expect to escape censure in so far as this delinquency is concerned; but private acts and private conduct, no matter how bad, will never be dragged before the public gaze in our magazine.

We again invite all those who may feel an inclination to write, no matter on what subject connected with religion, to correspond with our magazine; and we request all officers of congregations to communicate to us the public proceedings which take place within their sphere, which shall be inserted without any charge, unless they partake of a private nature, when their insertion must be left to be arranged between the parties and the editor.

In conclusion, we trust that we shall always receive the approbation of our readers, who may credit us that it s all be our highest ambition to be useful in the holy cause of our faith and our people.