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First Annual Meeting of the Montreal Hebrew Philanthropic Society


The first annual meeting of this Society, which, as we have before informed our readers, has been formed through the instrumentality of the Rev. Abraham de Sola, (see Occident, Vol. V., No. 5,) was held on Sunday, 18th June, when the annual report and balance sheet was submitted to the members. M. J. Hayes, Esq., the President, occupied the chair. In the report, the Committee do, in the first place, return their most fervent thanks to the Almighty Dispenser of all good, that, although humble in origin, and limited in means, they had, nevertheless, been enabled during the past year to alleviate the distress, and satisfy <<369>>the present wants of almost every Israelite, compelled by destitution to seek the charitable aid of their brethren in Montreal. They remark that the cases requiring their charitable consideration were unexpectedly numerous, but, before proceeding to particularize these cases, they would beg to say a few words in connexion with the origin, design, and utility of the Society.

“The Montreal Hebrew Philanthropic Society,” says the report, “was established from the same motives which have given birth to similar societies, in other places. It has resulted from the deeply-felt conviction, that ‘Union is Strength,’ and that if Israelites would combine in their acts of charity, that they would effect a much greater amount of good, and would be enabled to afford such an extent of relief to deserving cases, which, individually, they would find impracticable. It has originated in the belief that while the respectable, but decayed, brother has suffered from a modest unwillingness in forcing his claims upon the attention of his co-religionists, the professed and sturdy beggar has, by repeated and pressing importunity, obtained an undue amount of relief; that an executive, whose duty it is, and whose opportunities would necessarily be numerous, to inquire into the worthiness of applicants, was a desideratum; and that most persons are satisfied with giving their alms, without caring or inquiring whether they are properly bestowed or not. The object of the Montreal Hebrew Philanthropic Society is to promote a more just and efficient mode of relief. This Society is not satisfied with disbursing certain moneys to certain persons, professing to be poor Israelites; but it uses every possible precaution, and institutes every possible inquiry to assure itself that the applicants are really what they pretend to be. Its object is not to relieve the pecuniary difficulties only of the poor Israelite in Montreal, but it seeks at the bedside of the sick, in the attic, the loft, the hospital, even at the grave, to prove that Jewish benevolence, when invoked by the plaintive voice of suffering, is not invoked in vain; that it has no limit, and that mercenariness can erect for it no barrier over which it will not gloriously and triumphantly pass.”

The Report then proceeds to state, that the unprecedented number of the arrivals of poor Israelites, last summer, arose from the circumstance of immigration to the United States having been rendered more expensive and select; since that government, in consequence of the fatal visitation [cholera], which more or less accompanied the immigration of last year, had taken the precautionary measure of allotting a certain number of square feet to each person, whereby they might secure the arrival of <<370>>the better and healthier class of immigrants, the result of which step was to pour into Canada an unprecedented amount of immigration, and that too of the worst possible description, as the awful extent of distress and sickness but too fatally proved. The Committee, therefore, felt themselves bound then to relieve all the worthy objects of this class, making twenty-nine persons relieved, exclusive of those already resident, or not arriving as immigrants in Canada, making in all thirty-nine persons relieved during the year, at an expense of one hundred and eleven dollars. Besides these the Society had contributed towards the support of one pensioner. The Report then speaks in laudatory terms of the very great interest, attention, and readiness displayed by the honorary Secretary, the Rev. Abraham de Sola, in the performance of his duties, and in promoting the best interests of the Society, as also of the valuable services and extensive kindness of A. H. David, Esq., M.D., who most feelingly and attentively visited the sick immigrants, and dispensed medicines to them gratuitously.

In concluding their Report, the Committee pray “that the Guardian of Israel will be pleased to bless with his countenance the future operations of the Society, so that, when an indigent brother arrives amongst them, he should have no cause to ask ‘is there no balm in Gilead, is there, indeed, no physician there?’ that every son of Jacob will not refrain from ‘lending to the Lord;’ that they will not fear but that their interest shall be a thousand-fold, but that they will use their best endeavours to obtain further support for their infant Society, so that they might be enabled to anticipate the happy period when ‘sorrow and sighing shall for ever flee away.’”

On the motion of Mr. G. J. Ascher, seconded by Mr. E. Moss “that the report be received,” and it having been put to the meeting, the report was adopted nem. con. The meeting then proceeded to elect officers for the ensuing year, when the following gentlemen were returned:—M. J. Hayes, Esq., President; Messrs. Simon Hart, David Moss, and Joseph Lyons, Committee; and Rev. Abraham de Sola, Secretary and Treasurer. All re-elected except Mr. D. Moss.

Votes of thanks were then, severally and unanimously, passed to the President, Committee, Secretary and Treasurer, and Dr. A. L. David and the meeting adjourned.