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בס"ד

Rev. Mr. Rosenfeld’s Address

At Charleston

Note.—We have received the subjoined Address, delivered by the Rev. Jacob Rosenfeld, at the laying of the corner stone of the new Synagogue at Charleston, as noticed in our last; and now have the gratification of spreading the same before our readers.

Brethren,

We have assembled here this day for a very solemn and holy purpose, viz.: to lay the corner stone of a building to be erected and dedicated to the Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We have congregated to erect the pillar which is to be the house of God, where the remnant of Israel shall worship Him, as did our ancestors of old. It is a solemn occasion, my brethren, of such great importance to us, that I cannot omit making few remarks relative to it. I said, of great importance, because it is calculated to establish our congregation on a firm and lasting basis; and, more so, because it will be the means of re-establishing that ancient and genuine mode of worship which has ever constituted an infrangible bond of unity among the descendants of Jacob. The Lord, although He declared that He will hear our prayers, in whatever place we may offer them, found it necessary that Israel should erect Him a sanctuary, in order to establish a regular mode of worship. Exodus, chapter 38, verse 5:—וְעָשׂוּ לִי מִקְדָּשׁ וְשָׁכַנְתִּי בְּתוֹכָם “And they shall make unto me a sanctuary, and I will dwell among them.”

After the departure of our ancestors from Egypt, where they had lived in the midst of idolatry, and had no true conception of the invisible Author of their deliverance, the Lord promised them, “to send his angel before them to guard them in their way.” The chosen people of God were not sufficiently purified from idolatry as to make it desirable that His divine presence should dwell among them. But after having had so many proofs of the greatness and unbounded goodness of God, in the miracles wrought before their eyes; and after they were instructed in the sublime tenets of our holy Law, and they began to have a better conception of the Most High, and His divine attributes, and appreciate His goodness: then did He command them to build a Tabernacle.וְעָשׂוּ לִי מִקְדָש “And they shall make unto Me a sanctuary.” My brethren, behold the extraordinary condescension of the Almighty! He whom the universe cannot contain, whose glory filleth the heaven, and whose footstool is the earth,—He, the great “I AM,”  commanded frail mortals to build a dwelling-place, that He might rest among His chosen people. Oh, how exceedingly gracious did the Lord act towards our ancestors! how gloriously did He accomplish His promise to Abraham, in thus manifesting His affection for his descendants, by putting it in their power to become a holy nation, and causing His divine majesty to dwell among them. But, my brethren, not the building of wood and stone was to be the sanctuary of God; not the tabernacle made by human hands was to constitute His dwelling­place among them. No, that was only an auxiliary to the real sanctuary, the human heart, that is the real abode of God: that is the real sanctuary which the Lord desired Israel to erect, that He might dwell within them. And now, my friends, in erecting this building before us, we have the same object in view. Here His praises shall be sung, and our thanks and supplications ascend to the throne of the Most High. This house is designed to be a house of worship for the remnant of Israel; there to worship Him as in the days of yore, in the holy tongue, in which He revealed His divine will to His servants the prophets. A house where the children of the covenant shall hear His holy law expounded in purity, and where His divine presence shall promote union among His people. A house where you, my brethren, who were sufferers by the division of your former congregation, will become reconciled to those who have wronged you, throw the unhappy past into oblivion, and pray to God to forgive them. In short, in this house you shall preserve the mode of worship esta­blished by our ancient sages, untouched; and no reformer shall dare attempt to overstep its landmarks. Brethren, the stone which we are about laying, whereupon this Synagogue is to be erected, is, in fact, the “stone which the builders have rejected.” Orthodoxy is its name! True orthodoxy shall be the foundation of this place, dedicated to the service of the Lord by the remnant of His people. True adherence to our holy religion in its ancient form shall be our motto and guide, while within its sacred walls we supplicate God’s mercy and forgiveness, and prostrate ourselves before Him in the dust. Orthodoxy shall be taught here in its true spirit, unsullied by its abuses, to guide us while abroad, mingling with the world in our daily avocations. In short, the stone which has been scornfully rejected, shall become the corner stone of true Judaism, shining resplendently throughout our happy country, and future generations will bless the names of those who were zealous in this sacred cause.

Several of our pious brethren who were devoted to our holy religion have not survived the unhappy contest; their departed souls are, perhaps, hovering around us, in heavenly bliss, at this solemn moment. May they find rest in their heavenly abode, and may their children not forsake the true path which they have trodden before them. Many are there in our midst whose hoary locks and dim eyes betray that their sand of life has nearly run out; perhaps, soon, and they will have to appear before the throne of judgment. Let us pray for the prolongation of their lives among us, that they may see the completion of this building, and worship therein Him, by whose name it shall be called, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I conclude, my brethren, in the fervent hope, that you will all contribute your mite towards the speedy completion of this Synagogue, that the Lord may rest in our midst and bless us. Amen.

Almighty God, who art the essence of truth and righteousness, how great are thy mercies which Thou dost extend to the children of the dust, and how tenderly dost Thou watch over them and their actions. Oh, Lord, insignificant as our good deeds may be, when compared to thy indescribable goodness towards us, Thou art always willing to reward us for them in thy abundant grace. And if we, in the pride of our heart transgress against Thee, and violate thy holy law: Thou, oh Father! destroyest not, but awaitest our repentance; yet even if Thou chastisest thy sinning children, we perceive in it thy abundant goodness, for it only tends to purify us, frail and perishable as we are, from sin and wickedness, that we might return to Thee in repentance. Thus, Oh Lord, didst Thou chastise our ancestors, and didst scatter them over the face of the earth, in order that they should become purified of sin in the furnace of tribulation, and that the iron rod of fanaticism should test their faith, and cause them to cleave to Thee, and thy holy law, which they had violated. Oh, merciful Father! do Thou act towards us according to thy indescribable goodness, and send us thy divine blessing towards the erection of this house, which shall be called by thy holy and blessed name. Thou knowest we are bereft of our country, and we must sing praises in a strange land; we have now no Jerusalem, no temple, no high priest, and no burnt offering for thy worship. But, oh Lord! Thou despisest not a repentant heart, therefore wilt Thou hear our prayers which we will offer up to Thee within the walls of the house, to be erected on this foundation. Look down favourably upon us, and this our work, and grant, we beseech Thee, that all of us may see its completion, and worship Thee therein with devotion and faith. Merciful God! our hearts overflow with gratitude, that Thou hast thus far favoured our undertaking, and we pray Thee, not to withdraw thy divine assistance from us. Bless, oh Lord! our venerable brother, who is laying this corner stone; mayest Thou prolong his life, that he enjoy the fruit of his noble exertion, and pious zeal in this holy cause. Bless, oh God, this congregation, with peace, unity, and prosperity. Bless our beloved city and fellow-citizens; our beloved country, and all those who contribute to its welfare. Bless the workmen of this house, and all those who contribute to its erection. Thou our God and Father, in Thee we put our trust, Thou art our only hope and salvation! Amen.