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Token of Respect to Rev. Mr. Poznanski

 

Our readers are fully aware of the difference of opinion subsisting between us and the Rev. G. Poznanski, late Minister of the Hasell Street Congregation, at Charleston. We have not changed in the least our ideas regarding his public acts (we never contended with him on private grounds); we have at various times expressed our views concerning him and his movements; and our leading articles of May and last month will render it evident that we do not fear to speak out plainly what we think of the measures in which Mr. P. was so prominent an actor. In short, we disapprove utterly so, the schismatic movement in which the reverend gentleman was an active assistant, if not the first originator in Charleston; and before that High Tribunal, to which appeals, we hold him, as the main instrument, responsible for the disunion of the Israelitish community in the city where he was called to the ministry, by an almost unanimous voice, about fourteen years ago.

We believe, that had he acted differently, there would be but one Synagogue, one strong and united body, worshipping together after the ancient manner of our people; and at the most a comparative handful would, perhaps, have maintained an attitude of separation, as it was some years before his arrival. No one can imagine therefore that we could be among his panegyrists. Nevertheless, we will do him the justice to state that his congregation proper always appeared to be devotedly attached to him; and on his retiring from office, they have made it the occasion to render it evident by presenting him with a substantial token of respect.

The proceedings, which took place on Sunday, the 9th of June, have been forwarded to us for publication; and upon the principle, by which we have been guided, to give every one a hearing, we insert the whole as it has appeared in the Charleston Evening News of the 14th of June; and we express at the same time the hope, that Mr. Poznanski in his retirement will lend his aid to induce his former flock to retrace their steps, that the ancient order may soon be restored, and that this may cause but one congregation to be at Charleston, all united under the same roof, with one shepherd, and calling in union and love on the one great Read of Israel, the Lord God, our Father. Ed. Oc.

Charleston, June 19, 1850.

Reverend Sir:

Those of your subscribers who are attached to the Hasell Street Congregation would be much gratified in seeing the enclosed proceedings, on the occasion of the retirement of Mr. Poznanski, copied into your valued journal; provided you deem them of sufficient general interest to give them to your readers.

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Hoping you had a pleasant time home, and a happy reunion with your old friends, who, I feel assured, are too sensible of your merits and their own interests, not to reinstate you on your own dignified and very proper terms,           

I am, dear sir,
Yours, very truly,
JOSHUA LAZARUS.

Proceedings of the Hebrew Congregation, Hasell Street

We have the following pleasure of inserting in our columns the following interesting sketch of the proceedings of a meeting of the Congregation of the Synagogue “Beth Elohim,” or the “House of God,” Hasell Street, on Sunday.

After the congregators, and many others who attended to witness the ceremony, had collected, the choir, consisting of ladies and gentlemen, opened with a hymn, which was sung with much taste and musical harmony.

The newly elected minister of the congregation, the Rev. Julius Eckmann, then rose, and pronounced an impressive and appropriate prayer. Aaron Moise, Sen., Esq., chairman of the Committee of Arrangements, advanced to a table in the centre of the building, on which stood two most beautifully embossed silver pitchers on each of which the following was inscribed:

Presented
By the Congregation of

KAHL KADOSH BETH ELOHIM

To their Rev. Pastor,

GUSTAVUS POZNANSKI,

Charleston, S. C.
Sivan, 5610—May, 1850.

Mr. Moise then addressed the Rev. Mr. Poznanski in the following eloquent remarks:

“Reverend Sir: Your retirement from the sacred office of minister of this congregation, has been deemed a suitable opportunity for the expression of its high appreciation of your character and eminent services, and its deep regret at the loss it will necessarily experience in your withdrawal—a loss it will be difficult fully to supply. This grateful duty, of communicating, publicly, the opinion entertained of you, has been conferred on me, and, at the same time, to present for your acceptance this slight evidence of that estimation. Small, however, as is this testimonial of their regard, it will serve often to revive, in your breast, the most proud and gratifying recollections, and be looked upon with commendable pride by your offspring and social circle, it is hoped, for many years to come. It would have been more precious had its value been estimated by your just claims on this congregation. The motive of its presentation, therefore, must constitute its worth.

“I may here be permitted to say that there exists no tie more strong and enduring, none more pure and exalted, than that which attach man to him who ministers at the altar, since that tie embraces his earthly existence, and the destiny of his immortal soul. The wide and deeply interest<<251>>ing range of his ministration commences with our earliest days, and terminates at the grave. This, in you, sir, has been beautifully and touchingly exemplified. Most of us have experienced the beneficial tendencies of your holy appeals, either in joy or sorrow; especially the latter. We have listened to you with profit and satisfaction when seeking divine mercy in our behalf; when comforting the sick, recommending hope to the sorrowful, or while enforcing the necessity and happiness of pursuing a virtuous and religious course of life. Your exemplary meekness, too, and resigned spirit, under extremely depressing circumstances, attest your complete dependence on the mercy and justice of the ‘King of kings.’ Indeed, sir, your entire deportment in the exercise of the clerical functions, and otherwise, has been such as to secure the love and confidence of your followers. By them your devotedness to the sacred cause of pure religion can never be otherwise than remembered with the most hallowed feelings.

“For these, your estimable qualities, you will always be valued; but there is additional reason for us to cherish for you profound respect and warm regard. With respect to this congregation you have occupied a peculiar  and highly interesting position—such as compelled you to pass, however victoriously, through truly painful trials of patience and forbearance. Permit me, sir, briefly to recall, perhaps, the most eventful period of your existence.

“Impelled by the now pervading mental light of the age, you yielded your assent to, and even fearlessly advised, certain modifications in the forms and ceremonies of our ancient religion, whilst, as we believe, studiously avoided an interference with any of its essential features. You conceived some reform to have become indispensably necessary for upholding and perpetuating that religion. You desired to teach us to value more the shining lights of Heaven’s most precious gift to man, than its numerous and overshadowing forms. With a heart deeply imbued with the faith of your fathers, your intention was not to destroy or impair the sacred code they had venerated, but to render it more acceptable for lasting preservation. The proposed and existing alterations were not the result of hasty consideration, or the desire of reform merely. Your primary object was to promote true religion among your brethren, that they might zealously cling to it, and so ‘walk in the light of the Lord.’ If it be asked what have been the salutary results of these changes? the ready answer is, Attend worship in our beautiful temple, and they will there be witnessed and confessed.

“These lofty views and labours, reverend sir, constitute your claim on the gratitude of this congregation, and it has adopted this mode of making the pleasing acknowledgment. I feel assured that I truly express the feeling of the members composing it, in sincerely praying for your felicity in this world, and for that glorious and blissful eternity it has been your endeavour to merit.”

The reverend gentleman, under the influence of deep emotion, replied as follows:

“Mr. Chairman: It is impossible for me to give full expression to the emotions which now agitate my heart. The kindness and regard which my beloved congregation have, this day, manifested towards me, not only far surpass my humble merits if any I have, but are sufficient to fill the heart of the proudest aspirant to fame; so much so, that I feel the necessity of praying to God, that this manifestation may not so dazzle my mind and captivate my heart as to make me, even for a moment, deviate from the path of humility, and think or feel, that all this is owing to my merit, and not to the extreme partiality and kindness of the congregation.

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“You have well said, that these testimonials would on ‘be looked upon with pride by my offspring.’ If there be anything in my past conduct, that merits even the slightest degree of the love and regard evinced towards me, this day, I am confident that, in the moral lesson which these testimonials will convey to my children, I shall leave to them the greatest treasure, which I could have accumulated for them on earth. These testimonials will teach them that a man’s real worth does not consist in the possession of fortune’s gifts, but solely in his good conduct, and that upon this alone he must, and safely can, base the strongest hope of his ultimate well-being.

“As to my official performances, of which you have been pleased to speak in such high terms, I am constrained to say, that while it is highly gratifying to me to learn, that my sacred labours have produced some good fruits, I have to regret that my limited capacities have not been commensurate with my desires. And I do not hesitate to say, that the consciousness of this fact, and the ardent desire of more effectually promoting the welfare of the congregation, have alone induced me to propose my resignation, hoping, as I did, that the good work which the Lord had enabled me to begin would thrive better, and be sooner completed under the ministration of my successor. And here I cannot refrain from expressing in my gratification at the high abilities and moral qualification of him, who has now assumed the sacred duties of the ministerial office. I fully believe that, in him, the object of my resignation will be attained, and that if the congregation present to his teaching, as I trust they will, unbiassed and teachable minds and hearts, he is fully capable of achieving all the good that still remains to be done, and of promoting not only the eternal, but also the temporal welfare of the congregation, by infusing into the hearts of his hearers such principles and feelings as will cause them to confide in God under all circumstances, and consequently, to be tranquil and content, under the most painful vicissitudes of life. If this hope is realized, and I trust it will be in my able and pious successor, I shall view my resignation as the best act of my life.

“You have kindly alluded to the ‘depressing circumstances’ which have attended my ministerial career. It would choke my utterance, if I attempted to rehearse the difficulties and troubles, nay, the perils, through which, not I, but the members of my devoted congregation have passed, in their efforts to promote the cause of religion. My sufferings bear but a slight proportion to those which they have endured. Nor would I ascribe any of those noble efforts to their attachment to me—no; they worked for God, and from God they will receive their reward. But there was, among multifarious manifestations of their kindness and attachment to me, one act, for which I cannot , this day, refrain from repeating my most heartfelt thanks When, on one occasion, my character was assailed in the public prints, they came forth like affectionate brothers, individually, as well as collectively, and fully vindicated it. This, they did for me, and for this I render them my warmest thanks. Their resolutions,* unanimously adopted, and published on that occasion, I shall ever cherish as an inestimable treasure.

* See Courier of June 14th, 1844.

 “The relation hitherto existing between the congregation and myself, has now ceased; but I beg leave to assure them, that notwithstanding my retirement into private life, my interest in their spiritual and temporal prosperity will never cease; nor will the kindness and regard which they have evinced towards me, from the beginning to the end of my ministerial career, ever be obliterated from my mind and heart. But their approbation of my past conduct, manifested this day, in so splendid and affecting a manner, cannot fail to extend its beneficial influence, not only to the end <<253>>of my days, but to my posterity for ever; and for this, I repeat, my gratitude is inexpressible.

“And now, I trust that this will not be deemed an unfit occasion for the expression of my feelings towards those of my Jewish brethren in this city and elsewhere, and particularly of the congregation Shearit Israel in this city, whose displeasure I have unfortunately incurred, by sanctioning, or advocating certain changes, introduced into our mode of worship by this congregation. Conscious of the purity of my motives, in every act of my public life, I am not aware of any intentional offence, in word or deed, for which I ought to ask forgiveness at their hands. What I sanctioned or ad­vocated I conscientiously thought, and still think, either salutary, or, at least, perfectly admissible. If, in the opinion of any of my brethren, I have erred, I most solemnly aver that my heart had no share in the error. I, therefore, at the close of my public career, and particularly on this, to me a most solemn occasion, fervently entreat my beloved brethren, to banish from their hearts the slightest ill-feeling against me, and to let me retire into private life with the assurance that, whenever I shall extend my hand to any of them, it will meet that of a brother. As to myself, I have nothing now to forgive, trusting that the greatest offence which I may have received from any of them has at once fallen upon a forgiving heart.

“In conclusion, I beg you, my dear friend, to accept my most heartfelt thanks, for the able and kind manner in which you have conveyed to me the sentiments of my beloved congregation. I attach to your words an additional value: for, although you have acted in an official capacity yet I have reason for believing, nay, I know, that the kind wishes and sentiments which you have uttered, have been dictated by your heart. May God preserve you among us in bodily and mental vigour, for a long series of happy years.

“And to thee, O God! I would now raise my heart, with gratitude for thy past mercies, and with humble prayer for thy future guidance and protection. Wonderful has been the providential care with which Thou hast thus far conducted me in the labyrinth of life. Innumerable have been thy benefits: far surpassing the trials and conflicts so inseparably connected with this mortal life. Deign, O God! to accept my humble thanks, for whatever good Thou hast enabled me to achieve in the course of my ministerial career; and pardon, I beseech Thee, all that I may have done amiss. Let thy blessing rest upon the sacred labours of him, whom Thou hast appointed as the future with spiritual guide of this congregation. Endow him with wisdom and a holy zeal to diffuse the knowledge of religion, to promote virtue and piety, and to support and console the sinking and desolate heart. Let thy heavenly benediction, O God! descend upon this congregation, and upon all my other friends. here and abroad. Do Thou reward their kindness towards me. My best thanks are too feeble for an adequate acknowledgment but the rich source of thy bounty is inexhaustible. and from that source let their reward proceed. Grant, I farther pray Thee, that the members of this congregation may be of one mind and heart, in all that tends to promote our holy religion. Preserve them, O God! from all strife and contention. May peace dwell in their hearts and influence their words and actions.

“Let my humble supplication also ascend to Thee, O God! for all others with whom I have in any way been connected in my official career; particularly, the members of the congregation Shearit Israel of this city. Incline their hearts towards me, in benevolence and peace, and let me not find a shadow of in the private career upon which I now enter. Bless them, O God, and enable them to achieve much good, for thy glory and the glory of Israel.—Amen.”

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After which, Master Gustavus Poznanski Lazarus, in behalf of the Youth of the Congregation, approached the table, upon which stood a handsome silver Tankard, bearing the following inscription:

To the

REV. G. POZNANSKI,

From the
Youth of the Congregation

K. K. BETH ELOHIM.

1 8 5 0.

He then, in a manly, firm, and affectionate manner, delivered the following address:

“REVEREND SIR: The occasion which has this day assembled us together, is one of no ordinary interest: it calls loudly for the exercise of that energy and philosophy of mind so essential to the tranquillity of the heart’s emotions.

“It is my proud privilege, reverend sir, to appear before you, as the humble organ of the youth of this congregation, to express our sincere regret at parting with our much loved minister, and to assure him of our best wishes for his continued happiness. Yet how inadequate are words to convey, in this instance a just portraiture of our feelings. We can only assimilate ourselves to the tender vine which has long clung with confident repose around its protecting stem, until by conflicting elements disturbed, it relaxes its firm hold, and yields instinctive to another’s guidance.

“We trust, sir, that the impression which your precepts, enforced by your example, have stamped upon our young minds, may ever serve as the guiding star to our riper years.

“Allow me now, reverend sir, in behalf of the junior members of the congregation, to ask your acceptance of this tankard, as a slight testimonial of our gratitude for your services, our esteem for your principles, and our love for your virtues.”

During the delivery of the above, the reverend gentleman was deeply affected.

At its conclusion he took the little orator by the hand, and replied as follows:—

My dear young friend: My heart is overwhelmed with this additional mark of love and regard. To say that I highly appreciate this pious and noble act of my young friends, and that I tender them my most heartfelt thanks for their kind consideration, would be but a very poor expression of my gratitude and delight. I have no words for either. But it affords me the highest gratification to say that the pious feelings which prompted my young friends in showing such extraordinary attachment to their parting minister, justifies the hope that my learned and pious successor will not find it difficult to develop in their tender hearts all the good qualities which ennoble human nature to render them good Israelites, and consequently, useful members of society. Upon them, indeed, depend the continuation and completion of the sacred work of which under Divine assistance, we have laid the foundation: for, sooner or later, we shall be gathered to our fathers, and they will fill our places. I, therefore trust, that my dear young friends will not deem it amiss in their parting minister and friend when he avails himself of this solemn occasion most affectionately to exhort them to remain inseparably attached to our holy religion, to support its institutions and ministers, by their personal as well as pecuniary aid, and particularly to cherish as the apple of their eye, that noble edifice,* which, at our departure from this life, will be left to their fostering care and protection.

* The Synagogue.

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“No one has ever become impoverished by contributing towards the promotion of a religious or charitable object indeed, the most liberal contribution is but a slight return to God for manifold blessings, which he can multiply to the charitable, and take away from the uncharitable, in an infinite variety of ways.

“It is unnecessary to add to this exhortation any other for he who possesses a pious and charitable heart will love God, venerate his parents, cherish his brothers, and sympathize with, and indiscriminately assist his fellow-beings, whenever an occasion offers itself for the exercise of brotherly love.

“It is a source of joy to me, and doubtless, to all the members of this congregation, to believe, and as I think on good ground, that such pious and useful members will fill our places, when we shall have followed those who are gone before us to our eternal abode.

“I cannot conclude these few remarks, my dear young friend, without thanking you from the ground of my heart, for the kind and handsome manner in which your have expressed to me the good wishes and regard of yourself, as well as those whom you represent. I pray and hope that you may all, by your conduct, cause great happiness to your dear parents, and to all others who are interested in your welfare. May God preserve your lives and health amidst the manifold dangers which attend the age of youth, and grant you his choicest blessing.—Amen.”

The choir sung another hymn. and the ceremonies were closed by a benediction from the minister of the congregation.

The estimation in which the Rev. Mr. Poznanski was held by his congregation, is fully illustrated by the following resolution, unanimously adopted at its last general meeting.

Resolved, That the congregation desire to place on its records its high appreciation of the services of the Rev. Gustavus Poznanski, who for thirteen consecutive years has officiated as its pastor. They have during that period, been watchful observers of his ministerial course, and feel a sincere pleasure in bearing testimony to his estimable deportment, and to the zeal and ability with which he has performed the duties of his sacred office. In the moment of separation, they would express the sincere regard and esteem they entertain for him: and would invoke for him the blessings of that God in whose ministry he has so faithfully laboured.”

Upon the whole, the proceedings to which we have yielded so much space, must have been of the most impressive and affecting character: and are alike honourable to the pastor, and the congregation over which he presides.*

* We have been requested to state, that the beautiful pitchers referred to in the above article, were made by Mr. Wm. Wilson of Philadelphia.