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Consecration of the New Synagogue Rodef Sholem of Philadelphia

The new place of worship of the old German congregation of Israelites of this city was solemnly dedicated to the worship of the Lord on Wednesday afternoon, the 12th of Nissan (12th of April), with the usual ceremonies attendant on such an event in Jewish communities. The Synagogue is a large room having a gallery on both sides, each accessible by a separate staircase. The arrangement of the whole displays a gratifying evidence of good taste on the part of the authorities of the congregation; but as it differs but little from the usual mode of the American Synagogues, we forbear giving a minute description. For the information of our European friends we will merely state that in the greater part of, if not all, the German Synagogues in this country, the Portuguese manner of having the Hazan placed on the Beema, instead of before the Hechal, has been adopted; the new Synagogue does conform in this to the older ones. This deviation from the European Minhag is doubtlessly owing to the fact that it is not long since the Portuguese was the only one prevalent in America, with the single exception of the congregation Rodef Sholem in this place, which also was established long after the formation of the congregation Mikveh Israel, which has been worshipping on the site of its present Synagogue for about sixty-two years.--We are in hopes of being furnished before long with a concise history of the establishment of all the principal congregations in this country; at least we will endeavour to obtain all the accessible information, and to spread it before our readers with strict impartiality.

About half past four P.M. the congregation and other persons having tickets of admission began to assemble, and at six o'clock, when the doors were closed, the whole area presented a dense mass of persons, among whom were many of the most honoured of our citizens. We saw several distinguished clergymen of various denominations, judges of several courts, the post-master, the city authorities, as likewise the greater part of the officers of the other Jewish congregations. A little after six the exercised commenced and continued without intermission till about a quarter before nine. During each of the הקפות a Psalm was sung, viz. 30, 122, 100, 111, 132, 138, and 91, by the choir especially organized for the occasion, assisted by several solo singers, and an efficient instrumental band. It is but seldom that sacred music was better given or had a more soothing effect on the audience; pleasure was depicted on every face, and glad indeed must have been the hearts of those more immediately interested in the completion of the goodly work. We were pleased to observe that the honour of carrying the Sepharim, which had different bearers at each Hackafah, was distributed indiscriminately to all Israelites present, without regard to any adventitious circumstances attending their station, with the single exception of the first circuit, when the minister of the oldest congregation, and the president, treasurers, and managers of the respective Kehilloth were selected, and the first Sepher in the second, third, and seventh circuits, given to the ministers of the different congregations, in succession. When the procession arrived the seventh time before the ark, Psalm 29 was chaunted, after which the law-books were placed in their new dwelling, which is surmounted with the ten commandments, and the celebrated inscription on one of the scrolls,דע לפני מי אתה עומד, "Know before whom thou art standing."

The initiatory ceremonies being over, the prayers for the congregation and the government were said, after which a sermon, on the sanctification of the spirit, written for the occasion was pronounced. At its conclusion the choir sang the hundred and fiftieth Psalm, when the usual evening service was read by the assistant minister of the congregation Beth Israel, and after Yigdal had been sung, the assembly dispersed; and unless we mistake the general sentiment of all present, many a day will elapse before the pleasant impression produced by the exercises of the evening will pass from the memory.

The offerings which are usual on such occasions were dispensed with; but in lieu thereof subscription papers were distributed, on which each person who felt inclined inscribed his name with the donation he meant to give, and we believe that the experiment was sufficiently successful not to cause the authorities to regret having resorted to this method of obtaining funds for the support of the congregation.

The services were conducted by the Rev. Mr. Rau, the minister of the congregation Rodef Sholem, the Rev. Mr. Papé, late minister of the congregation Beth Israel, and the minister of the Portuguese congregation; the music was under the direction of Mr. B.C. Cross, who, together with Mr. Roget, deserves honourable mention for the efficiency with which the vocal performers were trained for the difficult parts which fell to their share.

Our space necessarily compels us to be brief in our account of this interesting ceremony; but we trust it is sufficiently full in all essential particulars, at least for those who have witnessed a similar celebration; and for those who have not it would require a much more extended description than we have room in our present number.