|Vol. VIII, No. 5
Ab 5610 August 1850
Philadelphia.—On the 9th of July, our city was visited with the most extensive conflagration, perhaps, ever witnessed here, and many Israelites shared in the same calamity, which overwhelmed their neighbours; the loss falls on several who were not able to bear it, and who had neglected to insure their little property, whilst others were amply, or partly covered by policies of insurance. The benevolence, however, of the citizens has been aroused, and committees have been formed to make collections from house to house, and if we may judge from the commencement, nearly enough will be raised to make up the losses of the unprovided poor. As many young females and others had lost their clothing, owing to the rapid spread of the flames, which precluded the saving of anything, almost, even at a considerable distance from the origin of the fire, an unexpected explosion of some hitherto undetected agent having caused death and destruction on all sides: the Hebrew ladies of Philadelphia met the following Sunday morning and afternoon, and made up a large quantity of garments to supply immediate necessities; donations in goods were also handed in to the managers of the Ladies’ Sewing Society, under the superintendence of the members of which useful body this benefaction took place. We incidentally mention the loss or life, and we regret sincerely to chronicle that among the slain, were at least two, if not three members of a family by the name of Marcus, the eldest son and daughter being certainly killed. and a younger son being yet missing. Another Israelite was severely wounded. A small special collection has been taken up among the Israelites of Philadelphia; in addition to which the Ladies’ Benevolent Society have made an especial appropriation to supply the usual relief which this association can afford according to its laws; and if more aid is needed immediately, it is highly probable that other societies would cheerfully co-operate. No appeal for relief has been sent abroad; but if any of our readers feel themselves impelled to open their hand to their needy Hebrew brothers: or to contribute to the general relief fund, as there can be no doubt that all sums thus obtained will be equally and equitably distributed, we shall be happy to be made the instrument to place their donations wherever they may direct us.
Young Men’s Literary Association of Philadelphia.—Under this title a new society has lately been formed in our city. We have not yet received a copy of their by-laws; but we suppose that the object of the founders is to improve themselves in religious knowledge, <<259>>which, if properly carried out, cannot fail of producing a happy and lasting effect. The officers are, Lewis Tobiason, President; Solomon C. Van Beil, Treasurer; Jacob Lyons, Secretary; Jonathan Emanuel, Librarian; Napoleon N. De Young, Morris Asch, and Abraham Isaacs, Managers.
Bnai Jeshurun Congregation of New York, having worshipped for more than twenty years in Elm Street, and the neighbourhood having been rendered unfit any longer for the situation of a place of public worship, owing to the erection of a station-house for a railroad company, have disposed of their Synagogue for a fair price, and are at the same time privileged to retain possession till, we think, the end of October. They have purchased three lots of 25 feet by 100 each, in Green near Prince Street, and they propose erecting a new building without delay, and hope to consecrate it some time in the autumn. We rather think the time allotted too short but the Israelites in New York are very enterprising in Synagogue building; and if they are determined to do it, they will no doubt succeed. But we should be highly gratified to learn that the school they intended forming could receive the same liberal support which a building for a Synagogue is sure to have extended to it in our sister city. But education is so requisite, that we trust all party feeling, if any there be, will be sacrificed to carry out this one great needed element of our organization, and as New York has all time means and men on the spot to do it justice, it would be a great shame education were to be allowed to languish yet longer.
Buffalo.—The 26th of July, as we learn from the public papers, was designated for the consecration of a new Synagogue at Buffalo, New York, and the Rev. S. M. Isaacs invited to preach a dedication sermon; and doubtless before this number of our magazine can reach our readers this new house, erected for the glory of God, will have been opened for praise and prayer to the sons of Israel.
Cincinnati—We are highly pleased to learn that the Israelites of this flourishing city have made a commencement in the establishment of a Jewish hospital. Several instances had occurred where deceased persons belonging to our persuasion had died in the general hospitals and been buried without the presence or knowledge even of the Jews, without a brother or a sister in faith being present to repeat a prayer or to do the least office of kindness and affection. This at length roused the sensibilities of several rightly feeling men, and, as we understand, Mr. Hyman Moses and Mr. M. E. Mehring undertook to make <<260>>collections sufficient to furnish a house with the necessary articles, and having succeeded in this, the hospital has been opened forthwith, by placing in it a superintendent, who if necessary, is authorized to get assistants to aid him in his labours. The physician is Dr. Henry M. Cohen, whose medical education and amenity of manner well qualify him for his profession, which we trust will be rendered useful to himself and beneficial to others. Our informant expects that, perhaps, 500 subscribers at three dollars per annum may be obtained to carry on this laudable, we may say necessary charity; since, as he told us, there are many Israelites all round Cincinnati, many living in the country, and this without friends or family around them, who when they are taken sick have to seek the large city, where they make their purchases and payments; and hitherto, they had to go to the general infirmaries, because they could obtain no Jewish boarding-house which could render them assistance, even by paying for it. These now, it is supposed, will with pleasure contribute to the fund of supporting a Jewish hospital, besides being ready to pay the usual charges in case they themselves should compelled to obtain admittance there when disease assails them. Even young females, it is supposed will contribute, in fact, all who have a prospect before them, that they may at some day be compelled to seek a place of proper attention during sickness.
Add to this the general wish to aid the sufferers in being or prospect, so common among Jews, and it is expected that the hospital just begun, and with such small resources, not be suffered to languish for want of proper support; and we think, indeed, that if it be properly managed, charges being made to those who can afford it, and giving them all the comforts they can obtain for the same amount in other institutions, success cannot be wanting; for every Jew must be anxious to have around him in the moments of suffering those who sympathize with him, not alone by pitying his pains and sorrows, but by sharing his religious sentiments, and his hopes of the future; and he must ardently desire not to have his hours of illness embittered by the appeals of those who prowl about sanitary establishments, and omit no opportunity to preach their unwelcome doctrines to all ears, in season and out of season; not to mention the dread which the conscientious invalid must feel of being tampered with in moments of unconsciousness, as there are zealots who would not hesitate to baptize, as they call it, a Jew or heretic, or infidel, in extremis, so as to prepare his soul for heaven, even if he be entirely unaware of the act or ceremony which is performed on him. We have, by the by, in our power information of an outrage, as we have no doubt it was, perpetrated lately, precisely under <<261>>such circumstances, not, indeed, in a hospital, but at the house of a wealthy and uncompromising enemy of our people, where a dying man was formally inducted into the church; but delicacy for the living prevents us from speaking of it now.
Should, however, our suspicions be confirmed, that the reported apostacy was the work of heated zealots, perpetrated upon an unconscious man, sinking into the embrace of death in the midst of those who hate Israelites and their law we shall not hesitate to speak out as the case will then richly demand. In the mean time it must be evident that such infamous acts can take place; the very absurdity of this making converts, who never in this life will find out that they have been converted is no bar to the mind of those who believe that beyond the pale of their church there is no salvation, and that without baptism no one can be saved. We trust, therefore, in the deepest sincerity, that the experiment just commenced in Cincinnati may not fail, and that its triumphant success may induce other congregations to follow so noble an example. We regret that our information is so meagre; but hope that before long we shall obtain full particulars, which we shall endeavour to lay before our readers, who cannot fail to feel a profound interest in it, no less than we.
Mobile.—We omitted to state in our last that the Israelites of that city had lately erected an iron-railing fence around their burying ground, by which it has been greatly improved in appearance. Whilst we were there we heard a general wish expressed for the erection of a Synagogue of proper size, the temporary rooms they have not being large enough to contain one half of the persons who do or ought to belong to the congregation. But we regret to say, that up to the time of writing this, we have heard of no steps taken to carry this wish into execution, although it is two months since we left Mobile, and we had hoped that no time would be lost to do what is necessary in the premises. We fear there is an undue dread of failure felt by a few members who thereby prevent others from acting. But, unless we greatly err, and we believe that we have taken proper means of obtaining correct information, there is actually no difficulty whatever in the way of success; and that at least it will be but anticipating a clamorous demand for room for more worshippers, treble to what is now on hand, before the lapse of two years; many who now do not belong to the congregation will no doubt join so soon as they see a proper Synagogue to go to; and hence, every day uselessly spent in vain deliberations will make the want more apparent, and not serve as a striking illustration of the wisdom and foresight of the timid. We trust, therefore, that at the next annual meeting of the congregation, if not before, the work will be <<262>>taken in hand; and, we hesitate not to predict that it will succeed beyond the hopes of the most ardent. As an illustration of the necessity of more space for the worshippers, we will merely remark that the ladies’ department contains but 36 seats, and the men’s 60, all of which are rented. There is, therefore, no room for children, none for those who have not secured a seat, none for strange Israelites, of whom there are many in Alabama; and the natural result is, therefore, to be expected, that on holy days, when every one is anxious to hear the prayers, there is no standing room even, and people are uncomfortably crowded. There can, therefore, be no question but that twice or three times 96 seats could readily be taken if they could be had; and that hence the revenue thence arising would be ample to pay the interest of any indebtedness likely to occur, and leave a surplus to diminish the principal every year. We dislike, as we have stated on another occasion, the wild, reckless spirit of speculation, which would build Synagogues not wanted and without the prospect of obtaining the means of payment when demanded; but timid caution is something equally reprehensible, and we trust, sincerely trust, that our friends in Mobile will not commit the folly of laying up means for posterity, whilst they themselves are without a place of devotion suited to their demands, and the increasing number of their brothers. We hope at the same time, that our well-meant advice will be received in the spirit it is given, since the present are nearly the very words which we addressed them, when we were worshipping in their midst the day before we left their city. To them also we say, as we have done to others, “advance,” and everybody else too will bid them, “God be with you,” if they only proceed in the true spirit of concord, union, and brotherly love.
New Orleans.—Whilst in the southern commercial metropolis, we inspected two plans for a new Synagogue to be erected by the Shangaray Chassed Congregation, laid before us by the courtesy of the President, Mr. Isaac Hart. They were both very pretty, and whichever was adopted, we have no doubt but that the building will be an ornament to the city, and a credit to the people who erect it; though we are free to state that the simple front of the plan first obtained struck us, at the time, as the most appropriate. We learn now from the Asmonean, that the old building in Rampart Street, hitherto used as a Synagogue, has been pulled down since we left, and that the commencement had already been made with the new structure. We are truly glad to learn it, as the building in which we met the people, was very inconvenient both for congregation and the minister; and in delivering an address there, we found that it was very difficult to speak <<263>>with anything like satisfaction and emphasis, owing to the faulty arrangement, for which, however, no one was answerable, as everything was fitted up as well as the nature of the house allowed it to be done.—We shall be pleased to learn that the whole work will soon be completed, and at as early a date as the middle of next December, the time stated by our contemporary. In the meanwhile we hope to be favoured with some account of the progress of the work as it gradually proceeds to completion: Will our friends keep us advised? The Asmonean also, informs us that a large room in that elegant building, the St. Louis Hotel, now unoccupied, has been rented to the congregation by the Directors of the Citizens’ Bank of New Orleans, to be used whilst their building is unfinished.
P.S.—We learn that on the 21st of July the corner-stone was to be laid by Rev. Messrs. Gutheim and Nathan with due solemnities.
The Nefutzoth Yehudah Congregation of New Orleans, at their last election, have chosen the following persons to serve for one year: Gershom Kursheidt President; George Jonas, Vice President; A. T. Ezekiel, Treasurer; E. Sampson, Benjamin Florance, Judah David, and J. E. Esdra, Trustees.
Syria.—We are pleased to announce that in Damascus, where ten years ago so bitter a persecution prevailed against the Jews, they have been invited to elect a member of the Town Council, in obedience to the orders of the Grand Sultan. Meir Seliman Pharchi is the delegate chosen in consequence of this invitation.
Paris—Foundation of a Jewish Hospital.—We have heard a great deal of the indifference to religion existing in the capital of France. But, if one may judge from the constant symptoms of great acts of beneficence which look towards supporting religion, we should say that there has been of late a great change for the better. The editor of the Archives Israelites, in his May number, says: “Among the establishments, the most imperiously demanded is a Jewish hospital. Let the individual opinions of each of us concerning our ceremonies, especially those which concern dietetic laws, be more or less rigid, it is nevertheless the duty of an Israelitish administration to take care of those under their charge, who would sooner die than enter an hospital, where the observance of their religious rules is impossible. Moreover, when we think of the interference of the clergy, who seek to fish for souls, and who often find auxiliaries against the tolerant wishes of the directors of hospitals, in the sisters (of charity) who attend on the sick, no one can deny that a Jewish hospital is necessary.”—After some farther remarks he continues: “Thanks to Mr. James Rothschild, Paris <<264>>will have a Jewish hospital. He has just purchased a piece of ground in Rue Picpus, Nos. 62, 64, and 66, measuring 7,500 metres, of which 800 are occupied by buildings, and the other 6,700 are laid out in gardens, walks, &c. The buildings consist of three houses contiguous to each other. The price of the purchase, with the expenses and building, will reach nearly 120,000 francs, about $22,800. A large portion of the land can be taken, independently of the hospital, for the use of the poor class.” The consistory of Paris very properly called on Mr. Rothschild, on the 22d of May, to thank him for his generosity. Dr. Cahen, in a few, well-chosen words, expressed the gratitude felt by the whole community, and used this remarkable phrase: “God has given you wealth, but He has also given you a heart to make, so charitable a use of it as this is.” Mr. R. was greatly moved by the act, and the words addressed to him; and made a suitable reply. His wife was present, and active as she is in all that is charitable, she took part in the conversation which afterwards sprang up between them and the deputation, and Mr. R. made particular inquiries after many matters of interest to the congregation, and showed himself ready to continue them his kindness.—It is not often, our readers will confess, that we praise the rich; but such an act of true benevolence as this just exhibited by Mr. Rothschild of Paris richly deserves to be recorded in our magazine; and we hope to hear that he has found imitators in this country; for though we have none who control such ample resources, there is no lack of means among us, if their possessors could once be persuaded that they could devote a considerable portion of their wealth to worthy objects of charity without robbing their families, the usual plea for parsimonious withholding of liberality when called upon for any great good.
France.—We are gratified to learn from the last number of the Archives Israelites received, that the Jewish central consistory of France has been invited by the minister of public instruction, to elect one delegate to the superior council of public instruction. At first the Jews had been excluded, the prerogative to send delegates having been conferred on Catholics and Protestants (we have just now forgotten the proportion); but the remonstrance made by the Jews, we are glad to see had its proper effect, and one of their own people was to be chosen between the 1st and 10th of June, to represent their interests in that important council. We trust that on all occasions Israelites will be ready to watch that their rights are not invaded or set aside, either daringly or inadvertently, as either cause is no excuse for a crying injury to our rights.