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בס"ד

The Beth-El Congregation of Albany.

 

During the past Tabernacle holy-days we were waited upon by the President of the Albany Congregation, Mr. Louis Spanier, to explain in <<423>>person the nature of the disagreeable conflict with Dr. Wise. In the first place, the charge of Dr. Wise’s friends that Mr. S. had a relative whom he wished to place in office, is entirely unfounded, as all of his near of kin, who are Rabbis, are now in higher positions than they could enjoy in Albany, two of them holding situations among the highest in the world, to wit, Dr. Mayer of Hanover, and Dr. Adler of London. Why the writer of the letter from which we quoted deceived us, is not for us to tell; but it proves that it is extremely difficult for an editor to know the exact truth, though he be ever so scrupulous in akin up his statements from the best sources at his command.

Furthermore, Mr. S. exhibited to us the books of the congregation, from which it appears that the interruption which Dr. Wise experienced when he attempted to preach, was owing to the fear Mr. S. had that it would create unpleasant scenes in case Dr. W. would carry out his threat, addressed to a member of the Board, to allude to him in his sermon relative to his (the trustee’s) violation of the Sabbath. Dr. W., we were farther assured, suspended Mr. Traub, the Shochet, upon a misconception of the oath Mr. T. took before the police magistrate, and that, so far from wilfully alleging a falsehood, Mr. T. stated what others had also heard, though Dr. Wise explained his words so as to contradict the statement thus made under oath. Wherefore the suspension of Mr. T., on the part of the Rabbi, was an undue stretch of authority.

The final and deplorable scene of the closing of the Synagogue on Rosh Hashanah was owing to Dr. Wise having preached a sermon of the 1st of June, in which, as people understood him, he spoke against the propriety of our observing the ceremonies as opposed to the development of our approaching in spirit to God. This caused a number of persons to address a formal impeachment to the President, who summoned Dr. W. to hand in a written defence to the Board. The Doctor was willing to appear and defend himself in person; but not to send in a written statement. In this he was undoubtedly right, as all accusations ought to be read in open meeting of the bodies whom they concern, witnesses examined for the defence as well as the prosecution, and the defendant be allowed an opportunity of exculpating himself, and sifting the testimony. On the other hand, we must do the President the justice to state that he acted, as we have no doubt, in good faith, construing the laws of the Kahal as he understood them. Thus affairs stood till the 5th of September, when Dr. Wise was deposed in his absence by a majority of votes at a regular meeting of the congregation, in consequence of which he was notified that his contract <<424>>was declared void, and that he could not be allowed to officiate any longer. Dr. W. and his friends thought his dismissal illegal, and hence the unfortunate exhibition of bad feelings on the New Year, which caused the Sheriff to turn out the people from the place of worship., On Sukkoth only it was that, the key having been restored to Mr. Spanier, the Synagogue was reopened and attended by the portion that had not seceded with Dr. W.

Since then they have formed two separate congregations, giving Dr. W. the sum of eight hundred dollars for his past services, and all lawsuits have, at the same time, been dropped by both parties. We have endeavoured to give a concise, though faithful, statement of this lamentable occurrence, and our readers can form their own judgment of the whole without our giving an opinion. Still it must strike every one that, let us blame Dr. Wise as we must, things would not have proceeded to the length they did, if there had been laws to define the duties and privileges of the minister, and if there had been a central board of reference for all American congregations. How long shall such wholesome legislation be deferred, and we have to deplore the absence of means to settle any dispute by a reference to Jews only?