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בס"ד

Editorial Correspondence.

Letter From the Rev. Mr. Marks.

London, January 1st, 5604, (1844.)

To the Editor of the Occident.

Rev. Sir—I am by no means insensible to your kindness and liberality, in offering me the use of your widely circulated journal, for the purpose of repelling charges,—some from ignorance; some from design—which have been brought against me and my congregation. And if, Sir, I have not availed myself earlier of your offer, it is because I considered that the first duties of a minister belong to his own flock, and that there is less evil in suffering calumny to circulate for a time, than in engaging in controversies abroad, at the risk of neglecting the immediate wants of a congregation at home.

I cannot, however, either in justice to myself, the committee of the West London Synagogue, or the highly respectable Jewish community of St. Thomas, suffer the discourteous letter of the Rev. Mr. Carillon to pass by, without endeavouring to set myself right with you, Sir, and the Jewish public, as to the position in which recent events have placed me with the Synagogue of St. Thomas.

In February, 1842, a letter was addressed by Mr. A. Wolff of St. Thomas to Mr. Moses Mocatta of London, congratulating this gentleman upon the part he had taken in the establishment of the West London Synagogue of British Jews, and praying him to use every exertion, in order to obtain a competent minister for St. Thomas, who might be enabled to carry out there the improvements introduced into the London Synagogue. "There is a prevailing wish amongst the better informed part of our congregation," writes Mr Wolff, "to change our present mode of worship for one more congenial to their feelings; and which would have a tendency of producing not only the spiritual consolation which every one has a right to expect in visiting the house of God, but particularly of impressing upon the minds of the juvenile branches the true tenets of our blessed and sublime religion." . . . . . "We have hitherto been debarred from carrying this object into effect, from the difficulty of finding a minister, competent in every particular to take the lead, and who could, in the English language, develop, explain, and invitingly represent the beauties of the Jewish religion." Mr. Wolff then appeals, on behalf of himself and colleagues, to Mr. Mocatta, to procure for the Synagogue of St. Thomas "a minister of gentlemanly deportment, possessing a thorough knowledge of the English language, a strict Mosaic believer, a liberal man, who does not place the rabbinical writings on a level with the Pentateuch; one who feels the difference between worship and heartfelt religion; a pious man of talent, of a patient and forbearing temper, always as willing to listen as to be listened to, and more ready to give instruction than to receive applause."

This letter was placed in my hands by Mr. Mocatta, who accompanied it with a request that I would immediately put myself in communication with the authorities of the Synagogue of St. Thomas. I accordingly wrote to Mr. Wolff, expressing my conviction that he had by no means overrated the qualifications necessary for a Jewish minister; but as no provision had as yet been made in England for instructing and training youth, in order to qualify them for Synagogue appointments, I more than doubted the probability of finding in this country a minister, who would unite the above and various other qualifications. To render the thing practicable, I advised that some of the qualifications should be dispensed with, provided a minister could be procured of tolerable capacity, and possessing such habits of application and study, that would hold out a promise of his future improvement.

My suggestion was approved; and in the following July, I received an authorization, signed by all the officials of the St. Thomas Synagogue to engage a minister, at a liberal salary, on my own responsibility. The same letter brought an order for fifty sets of the Daily, Sabbath, and Festival Liturgies, as used in the "West London Synagogue of British Jews."

The Prayer Books were duly forwarded, and the necessary steps were taken for obtaining a minister; but though there were many applications for the appointment, from men of unquestioned piety and learning, not one of the applicants was found capable of preaching with ease and fluency in the English language.

Not having succeeded in securing the services of an eligible minister, and the Synagogue of St. Thomas having been for many months without a reader, the congregation, as Mr. Wolff informed me, determined to receive back the Rev. Mr. Carillon, who had made an application to be re-engaged, declaring at the same time that he had made considerable improvement in the English language, as well as in other matters connected with his vocation. Mr. Wolff's letter conveys to me also the intelligence, that on and after Passover, 5603, the forms and services of the West London Synagogue would be adopted by the congregation of St. Thomas.

Since this I have not been honoured with any official communications from St. Thomas; nor have I been enabled to gather any information of its Synagogue movements, save through the columns of "Les Archives Israelites," "The Occident,'' and "The Voice of Jacob."

From the above plain statement, it will be seen that the members of the West London Synagogue of British Jews did not intrude their views nor their formularies upon the Synagogue of St. Thomas; but that our West Indian co-religionists, anxious to introduce into their house of prayer the same mode of worship that obtains in ours, and desirous of obtaining a more competent minister than the one they possessed in the Rev. Mr. Carillon, sought our aid to enable them to accomplish those objects.

I will not do the authorities of the Synagogue of St. Thomas the injustice to identify them in any way with the letter of Mr. Carillon, published in the Occident of Tishri last, nor to suppose that they at all sanction the course pursued by their minister. The letters from Mr. Wolff and his colleagues breathe invariably a spirit of unobtrusive piety and fraternal love, and they, moreover, mark their writers with the genuine credentials of gentlemen and scholars. Now to all this Mr. Carillon's letter presents so wide a contrast, that I cannot but look upon his epistle as essentially his own, and by no means embodying the sentiments of the wardens, from whose suavity and gentlemanly bearing, the Rev. Mr. Carillon may derive a most useful and profitable lesson.

I have deemed it right to make these facts known, to order to have done, once for all, with those insinuations which from time to time are whispered forth, as though the members of our congregation had sought by indirect or unfair means to propagate the system of our worship.

That "almost every one" of the families of the island was in possession of our ritual,* and that the leaders were desirous of adopting the same publicly, at the time of Mr. C.'s return, is a pleasing proof of the intrinsic merit of our Prayer Book, which though proscribed and excommunicated by those who consider proscription and excommunication religious behests, endeared itself to the community of St. Thomas, by the simplicity of its forms, and the purity of its contents. That the Rev. Mr. Carillon found means to overrule the predilection of his flock for the improved ritual, does honour, I admit, to his powers of persuasive eloquence, and claims my admiration for the zeal with which he must have combated the efforts of his conscientious flock, on behalf of what they conceived to be a more edifying form of worship.

* See Mr. Carillon's Letter.

I cannot, however, say as much for the reasons which, according to the reverend gentleman's statement, influence him to reject the obnoxious book. Had he kept secret his reasons, every liberal man would have considered himself bound to give him credit for sincerity of purpose and for solidity of argument, in support of the course he chose to pursue.

But since the Rev. Mr. C. has published to the world his reasons, and since I have the presumption to consider his published reasons exceedingly shallow, I cannot but conclude that either the minister of St. Thomas has passed judgment in what he does not understand, or that he has not put us in possession of his real reasons. If so, the most instructive part of his pastorale is yet to come, and all that he has hitherto said is mere φλυαρα.

Note by the Editor.—We regret being compelled to postpone the remainder of Mr. Marks's letters to our next number, as we have to add some remarks of our own, and our space this month prohibits us from doing it at the present moment.

(To be continued.)