|Vol. I, No. 9
Kislev 5604, December 1843
Fifth Annual Report of the Female Hebrew Sewing Society of Philadelphia.
(Published by direction of the Society.)
As the season of childhood is physically considered most fraught with danger; as the husbandman watches for the shoots of the seed he has sown, so with associations: their early years give cause for anxiety; and as with the former, so with the latter: in their gradual progression is developed the debility that confirms fear, or the strength that justifies hope. Institutions, even as things of animal or vegetable existence, require assiduous care; the spring of action must be healthful in feeling, judicious in its application, to ensure permanency. Charity is rarely continuously extended unless there is evidence that its recipients are benefited thereby; as with individuals, so with societies: even as flowers scatter their transient perfume indiscriminately, but reserve their most nutritious qualities for the being endued with skill to convert them to useful purpose. In being enabled gratefully to state our prosperity on this our fifth anniversary, we trust not to be deemed as presumptuously applying the foregoing. It were, indeed, so to assume more than co-operation with our seniors in good works. Rarely do we enter a dwelling to clothe the destitute, that our maternal guide, The Ladies' Hebrew Benevolent Society, has not passed its threshold to feed the hungry,—our brethren of the Hebrew Benevolent Society, to bestow the mite that, judiciously used, yields support for the future,—and the Fuel Society, to supply the appliance for genial warmth, where else had been felt the nipping frost added to the chill of poverty. We deem it the province of each association to make known the evils, mental or moral, of which it becomes cognizant, that means may be devised to remedy them. In our visiting and ministration, it necessarily occurs that much of character and habits are developed to us: in many instances it is of a kind to call forth approval and elicit heartfelt sympathy. But, alas! there are painful exceptions, painful instances that outward poverty is but the result of a demeaned spirit, an absence of the honest pride that prefers toil to supplication, and eats the homely crust of independence, sweetened by the knowledge that they leave to the sick, the widow, and the fatherless, the boon that charity so appropriates.
Did the evil stop with the evil-doer, we might grieve without hope, or making any effort to regenerate, aware that habits of dependence and sloth, once having taken deep root, are not easily eradicated; but let them not prove as the Upas, whose poison is diffused where'er its shade extends. The children. of such parents are the objects to which it is especially desired to direct attention. In some instances, where there is no lack of good feelings and principles, there is yet an inertness of character, and an inability to control, that render their natural guardians the least fitted to qualify their children to become valuable members of society;—Israelites in deed and spirit.
Our Report states forty-four children as recipients of your bounty; of that number thirty-six are resident among us. Is it matter of small moment how they shall be trained? They are sons and daughters of Jacob, of whom each can and will add to our glory or our shame. As such they are identified by the community amongst whom we dwell, of which we are an integral part; as such they are known to ourselves. We blush to hear of misdeed when thus coupled with our name—our nation; we triumph in their triumphs; feel proud of their talents, rejoice in their virtues. Recreant must be the Jew who feels not thus. Be it then our care, whilst catering to their external wants, to make it but a medium of greater good, to instil into the youthful mind a love of purity and truth, a veneration for our time-honoured sacred religion, to endue them with just abhorrence of systematic beggary, dependence, and vile deceptive practices: Alas! that we should be obliged to deplore such among us; to know that the infirmity that He who has inflicted renders matter of peculiar sympathy has been feigned to excite it, and obtain the booty so freely bestowed on such unhappy objects. Other instances of serious misconduct, too, have in a degree influenced this appeal; foreign as it may seem to this occasion, its importance will, we trust, prove an apology for its introduction. The sick, the stranger, the aged, and the young, have been benefited by your industry, and soothed by kindness; when death has claimed its victim, there has been the consoling reflection of comforts administered with an unsparing hand and a willing spirit. The stranger who left her home with such fair prospects as health, youth, and ability afford, became prostrate with disease; how sad, how forlorn, how home-yearning the feelings she experienced, it needs not to say; but soon gentle words and skilful works have renewed hope to her heart, and tended to allay the anguish of body and mind, even where they failed to cure; cleanliness and comfort made her apartment wear the semblance of better days, and now, in restored health, her heart must glow with grateful regard towards those who, with God's blessing, assisted in its restoration. It may be reckoned among the advantages of this association that the youthful maiden is required to perform its most active duties; at the season usually devoted to gaiety and amusement, our visiting committee may be found in the humble abose of poverty, listening to the tale of want and wo; her heart's best sympathy is thus excited, her energies called into existence to devise relief, and it is but a natural result that, when in time she takes her stand in society as the head of a family, these benign influences have rendered her more qualified for its manifold duties.
Since our institution we have had frequent occasion to rejoice that the secession of members has been for such purpose; now we have to regret separation from those who have rendered most valuable service, thereby becoming entitled to our thanks and esteem,—thanks for the benefits that enable us to cheer those who else were cheerless, is not an onerous duty, but a delightful privilege. Such we feel it in offering ours to Mr. and Mrs. John Moss, Rev. Isaac Leeser, Miss Gratz, Mrs. Julia Moss, Mr. T. Pincus, Messrs. Bernheimer, Andrade, Frank, M. Jacobs, Enoch, E. Pincus, Goldstein, Lob, Steinberger, Solis, Dux, Levengrund, Springer, Gans, Blum, Berg, A. Hart, I. J. Phillips, J. Jacob, H. Cohen, J. H. Dessau, L. Mayer, A. S. Wolf, Binswanger, Rosengarten, D.C. Peixotto, H. A. Phillips, Cauffman, L. M. Morrison, J. A. Phillips, Mrs. L. Arnold, Mrs. J. Phillips, "Unknown;" and most gratefully reiterate them to the managers of the Hebrew Charity Ball, our receipt from which was $83.33, 1t will doubtless afford them satisfaction that the distribution of 429 garments involved an amount of expenditure that rendered it peculiarly acceptable.
Whilst thus the spirit of benevolence hallows the festive dance, we may deem it sanctified, as did the sacred Psalmist when thus he did reverence to Him who had raised him to be a ruler of his people.
Treasurer's Account for the year commencing Nov. 6th, 1842, ending October 22nd, 1843.
Philadelphia, October 22, 1813, (corresponding with Tishry 27th, 5604.)