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בס"ד

Fourth Anniversary of the Hebrew Benevolent Society of Cincinnati.

(Concluded from p. 572.)

The sixth toast was, “Charity, the glorious legacy of God to man. ‘And if thy brother be waxen poor or fallen into decay, then thou shalt relieve him, yea though he be a stranger or a sojourner in the land, that he may live with thee.’ ”

Mr. Lewis Abraham was then called for, who rose and said:

“Thankful as I am, Mr. President and gentlemen, for the honour you have shown me in thus calling on me to address so large and respectable a body of my brethren, I yet regret much that you have not selected one more capable of responding and doing justice to so noble a sentiment as the one just now heard by you. After the eloquent addresses of the gentlemen who have so ably preceded me, but very little is left for me to say; they have already gone over all the ground; yet if I am able to impress on you the necessity of acting up to what they have advanced, then shall I indeed achieve that which will give me much cause for self-congratulation. With what admiration must we all turn to those parts of our holy law that inculcate such truly good and moral principles as the quotation just now heard by you; yet there are other portions equally as impressive, touching our holiest sympathies, calling forth feelings from the human heart that must elicit veneration for our wise legislator, adoration for his laws, and happiness and gratification in their fulfilment. If my memory prove not treacherous, I will repeat a part of these, knowing they will carry with them more forcible conviction than any humble argument that I can bring forth: ‘And if there be a poor man of any of thy brethren in any of the gates of the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, then thou shalt not harden thy heart nor shut thy hand against thy poor brother; But thou shalt open wide thy hand to him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need in all that he wanteth.’ ‘Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart saying, ‘the seventh year, the year of release is at hand, and thy eye be evil against thy brother, and thou givest him nought, and he cry unto the Lord, and it be a sin unto thee; Thou shall surely give him, and thy heart shall not be grieved when thou givest him; because that for this thing the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, in all that thou puttest thine hand to. For the poor shall never cease out of the land; there­fore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open wide thy hand unto thy brother, to the poor and to the needy in thy land.’ Here we find positive command­ments to bestow charity; prosperity is promised for adhering to them, whilst not acting after this manner will be esteemed a sin against us. But with what pleasure do I cast my eyes around this table and see that these com­mandments are properly appreciated! When I behold so large and harmo­nious an asemblage of my brethren, met to celebrate one of the noblest, the staunchest bulwarks of our faith; it inspires new hope in my breast, I rejoice for Israel, I see the sun of her ascending glory casting its refulgent brilliancy even unto the far West. Long, long has it been dimmed by the mists of persecution and superstition; but these are the meetings, these are the assemblies, that waft away with the zephyrs of purity and devotion every cloud that has for ages darkened our horizon; and warmed by the genial influence of its rays, under the protecting wing of advancing civilization and universal toleration, we can now meet and openly demonstrate what in gone by we had to do by stealth, or in privacy. Go on, then, my brethren; proceed in this good and holy work; let us be joined in one united bond of brotherhood, forgetful of all private wrongs; pour forth on the altar of our faith a substantial offering in testimony of our love and our adoration of its laws; let us ‘judge righteously and plead the cause of the poor and needy;’ for these are the deeds that tend to erect our faith on a foundation firm as a rock of ada­mant. Already do surrounding nations look upon us with admiration, and on our institutions with respect; for it has ever been the pride of our people to have societies among themselves for the relief of their own poor. Let then this praiseworthy reputation be properly sustained here this day. I do not doubt but it will; I anticipate the cry of the distressed will be heard and answered in the proper spirit. The present extraordinary inclement season, added to the unusual high price of provisions, render the hardships of the poor extremely distressing, and it behooves us all to sympathize with them to the utmost of our ability, not only in words but in deeds. With the more prosperous of us Providence has been very bountiful of late; since our last anniversary, with a few exceptions, we have all enjoyed the inestimable blessing of health. It is true, a large portion of us have been plunged into the most poignant grief by the loss of a long-esteemed and dearly beloved friend, one of whom no praise of mine is necessary; no eulogy can do justice to, for ‘none knew her but to love, none named her but to praise.’ It is, however, some consolation to know that what was our loss, was her eternal gain; and the only way we can show respect to departed worth is by striving to pursue the example of virtue shown us,—the lady of whom I speak (Mrs. Morris Moses) was remarkable for her great philanthropy. Of her may it truly be said, ‘Grace is deceitful and beauty is vain, but the woman who feareth the Lord she shall be praised.’ ‘Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.’ Pardon me, gentlemen, this digression; I know it is not exactly appropriate; but we are told in the midst of our prosperity to think on our adversity; it is, therefore, on occasions like this that remembrances will force themselves on the mind, bringing forth the memory of those whose example and advice we love to honour and obey; it is on days such as this we should hold up to the gaze of our rising generation the noble and good deeds of the strict observers of our faith, as a beacon to guide them in the paths of virtue, and warn them from the quicksands of temptation and vice that beset them in their voyage over the stormy ocean of the world. But I must wipe the tear of grief from my eye now, as the living claim all my sympathy. As I have before remarked, the present season is an unusual severe one for the poor; and I assure you there is much more poverty now existing in this city than many of my auditors have the slightest conception of. I will not detain you by reciting instances, although cases have lately come to my knowledge of the most distressing nature; the curious can, alas! soon be satisfied of the truth of this. What holy joy then should ours be, that we are enabled to alleviate such woes; what thanks do we not owe the Supreme that he has delegated to us sufficient means to relieve such distresses. It is an attribute of the Almighty himself, as we recite in our daily prayers: ‘He healeth the sick, supporteth the fallen, and raiseth those who are bowed down.’ To relieve the unfortunate also carries with it a double blessing, as is so eloquently and forcibly expressed by the Psalmist, ‘Blessed is he who considereth the poor, for the Lord will relieve him in time of trouble; the Lord will preserve him and keep him alive, and he shall be blessed upon the earth; the Lord will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing, and will make all his bed in sickness.’” After describing the merits of the Society, and the state of its finances, &c., Mr. Abraham proceeded: “All I ask of you, then, gentlemen, is, come forward, enroll your names as permanent members of our Society; we want not only your co-operation this day, we want your voices at our councils, your advice at our deliberations, your votes at our ballot box, so that we may be enabled to elect as officers such men as those who now so honourably fill our presiding chairs, men in whose integrity we all have perfect confidence, in whose devotion to benevolence we all place perfect reliance, of whose bounty and munificence we shall shortly have substantial evidence. I will not ask of you any thing in aid of the funds; a contribution will shortly be made; I know your dispositions, and am satisfied you will give ‘with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.’ In conclusion, I will call your attention to an expression of our blessed Scriptures, which says, ‘Cast thy bread upon the waters, for it shall return unto thee after many days. Give a portion to seven, and also to eight, for thou knowest not what evil may befall the earth.’”

The collections were now taken up, and the company present showed the utmost liberality. Many a heart will beat with joy and gratitude from the work of that day.

As soon as the contributions were closed, the President announced the seventh regular toast: “The city of Cincinnati, Queen of the West; may she long enjoy her present pre-eminence.” Eighth toast: “The Hebrew Benevolent Societies throughout the world; we hail them as brother co-operators and rejoice in the affinity; may their efforts ever receive the substantial sympathy they so richly deserve.” Ninth toast: “Our holy and imperishable religion; its ways are the ways of pleasantness, and all its paths are peace.” Tenth toast: “The fair sex. What language can express our glowing admiration? without thee, sickness cometh like an armed man; with thee, the desert bloometh like a rose.”

Note.—Several other addresses were made and other toasts were offered; but our limits prevent us from giving any more than the above. We are pleased to record in our magazine the proceedings of our friends in the West, hallowed as the feast was by the presiding genius of Charity; and we thank our correspondent for the able manner in which he has reported the occurrences of the day. May we hear yet often of the like good doing from every congregation of Israelites.—Ed. Oc.