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Presentation of a Silver Goblet to the Rev. Isaac Leeser, at Louisville.

Published by Request of the Congregation Adath Israel, of Louisville, KY

The Rev. Isaac Leeser arrived in this city on the 4th of December, and as soon as this fact became known, a meeting of the <<32>>Board of Trustees of the Congregation Adath Israel was convened, by order of their respected President, M. Straus, Esq., in consequence of which the Rev. Isaac Lesser received a formal invitation to lecture on the Sabbath morning following. The reverend gentleman kindly assented, and delighted a numerous audience by a very able and luminous discourse. On Sunday afternoon, a general meeting of the Congregation held, and after stating the object of the convocation, the following resolutions were unanimously adopted:

Resolved, That as a small token of the appreciation in which the Rev. Isaac Leeser is held by this Congregation, he be presented with a Silver Goblet, bearing a suitable inscription.

Resolved, That the presentation shall take place on Monday evening, the 8th of December, in the presence of the whole Congregation, and that the Rev. Isaac Leeser be invited to attend.

In accordance with these resolutions, the members of the Congregation repaired, on Monday evening, to the Kossuth Hotel, the appointed place of meeting. Mr. M. Straus presided, and after stating the object of the meeting, appointed a committee of five to draft resolutions suitable for the occasion, and the following resolutions were proposed, seconded, and unanimously adopted:

Resolved, That we hail with high gratification the visit of the Rev. Isaac Lesser to this city, and that we gratefully tender him our thanks for having so readily yielded to our invitation to lecture, on last Sabbath morning, in our Synagogue.

Resolved, That in the Rev. Isaac Leeser we behold one, who, from his earliest days, even before he entered on the ministry, devoted his talents and seal to the defense of Judaism, and he hath ever since continued to be the able and indefatigable champion of our Holy Faith.

Resolved, That by the numerous religious publications that have emanated from his pen, the Rev. Isaac Leeser has justly earned the love and esteem of his coreligionists in all parts of the world.

Resolved, That as a small token of the high appreciation which this Congregation entertains of the important services rendered to the Israelitish community, by the reverend gentleman, be requested to accept the accompanying Silver Goblet.

Resolved, That a copy of these resolutions be presented to the reverend gentleman, and that they be published in the “Occident” and “Asmonean.”


B. H. Gotthelf, J. A. Jessel, B. Sachs, L. Silberman, H. Swan: Committee.

After the adoption of the foregoing resolutions, a committee was appointed to request the reverend gentleman to join the meeting. When he made his appearance, the foregoing resolutions were read to him, by the Rev. B. H. Gotthelf, the Chairman of the Committee, after which M. Straus, Esq., in presenting the goblet, spoke in substance as follows:

Reverend and Dear Sir:

It affords me great and infinite pleasure to have been selected as the organ of the religious body over which I have the honour to preside, to request your acceptance of this goblet, which I hold in my hand, and, in doing so, I must ask your kind indulgence, if you find that I am not able to do justice to the subject, not being accustomed to public speaking. This silver cup is not given to you for the value of the precious metal it contains, nor is it given as a remuneration for the very efficient and able services you so voluntarily rendered us on Sabbath morning; but, Reverend Sir, it is presented to you as a small token of the high respect we entertain towards one whose best years have been in the unswerving, unwavering and unflinching duty of defending the rights and privileges of our coreligionists,—whose daily task has been to spread, abroad and at home, a true knowledge of our Holy Faith, and of the duties incumbent on us as a nation, to which such glorious promises are held out.

When we reflect, Reverend Sir, on all that you have done to maintain the true dignity of Israel,—to implant in our youth the “fear of the Lord, the beginning of wisdom,”—to instill among our fellow-citizens a correct appreciation of the Jewish character,—the numerous works that have emanated from your pen,—we cannot but admire the versatility of your talents, and to hail with sentiments of profound <<34>>pleasure the opportunity you have so kindly afforded us of becoming personally acquainted with one whose well-earned fame is widely spread over the four corners of the globe ; and I speak but the united sentiments of this Congregation, when I assure you that we will always look up to you as oar guide, as our teacher.

May He, in whose holy service you have so faithfully ministered, and for whose glory you still labour, retain you ever in His holy keeping; may He strengthen you to complete your task; may health, long life, and prosperity, be long accorded to you; and may a crown of glory await you in the realms above.

The inscription was then read:

“Presented by the Congregation Adath Israel, of Louisville, Ky., to the Rev. Isaac Leeser, the Champion of Jewish Rights. Dec. 8th, 1851.”

After which, the reverend gentleman feelingly replied nearly as follows, which much affected his numerous and attentive auditors. He spoke, by request, in German, as several gentlemen present had not been long residents of the country, and he had to claim the indulgence of his hearers, as he had no practice in public speaking in that language:

Mr. President and Gentlemen:

It is always a high gratification for any one to find that he has received the approbation of his fellow-men; how much more must this be felt in my case, who but a few days ago came among you an entire stranger, personally known to no more than half a dozen individuals in your entire community. But your kindness has not permitted me to remain long unknown among you, and you may credit me that I embraced with pleasure your invitation to address the assembled faithful in your house of prayer. But, believe me, that it needed no gift of silver to remunerate me for this service, as I conceive it to be the duty of every one who has the capacity, to teach on all occasions when he may be summoned, the doctrines of the pure word of God which is in our possession. Nevertheless, I accept your gift with gratitude, not as you have well said, Mr. President, for its intrinsic value as precious metal, but as a token that Israelites sympathize with each other, and that services rendered to our cause, no matter where performed, are received kindly, and acknowledged everywhere by the rightly thinking.

This thought shall urge me on to farther exertions, and I shall rely on the promise you made me in behalf of those you represent, that the congregation Adath Israel would support me in the works I may be engaged in at any time for the promotion of Judaism. I thank you all for this kind sentiment, and it will cheer me in the hour of trial and labours, that the good wishes and kind sympathy of your body are with me, and this is a reward enough in itself to recompense me for what I have done. For, in serving the interests of our people, I also served my own; and, hence, in taking up my pen in defense of the Jewish religion, I at the same time vindicated my own right to the respect of those who differ from us in religions principles. Still it is a pleasing reflection, that this service incidentally rendered to others, has obtained the approbation of so numerous an assembly as this; and for giving voice to this feeling, accept my heartfelt thanks.

But as I have acquired the greater portion of the influence I have whilst acting as the minister of our faith, permit me that I dilate a little upon the necessity of placing the officer who is to administer in the holy house of God on a footing of true respectability and usefulness. Much of the evil under which we labour, is owing to the want of a proper ministry, who can, independently, and fearless of temporal consequences, reprove their flocks on all occasions when they behold anything deserving of animadversion and censure. But how can any one so situated reprove the evil he beholds around him, when he casts a look on wife and children, and reflects that by his imprudence he may render them breadless and homeless, before another year comes round? Do you expect, can any one expect a man to discharge his full duty whilst the earthly happiness of those dear to him, depends on his discretion, his silence, his yielding to the authorities of the Synagogues, who are either by custom or law his superiors? And still you require, every congregation requires, a man to be ready at all times to admonish fearlessly and boldly, in the manner of the ancient prophets, to spare no evil which he discovers, to yield to no authority, when it concerns the service of our Father in heaven. Let me, therefore, entreat you to reader the situation of your minister one of independence, by electing him for such a period that the fear from without may not rest on him, that he may feel the full responsibility he incurs to God for the discharge of his duty, faithfully as a man of Israel; and do you demand of him that he shall reprove you mildly on all occasions, and teach you the way you should go, and see that the heavenly work suffers no injury in his hands.

In this manner alone can the connexion of minister and flock be one of mutual satisfaction to both, and then will our ministers be able to discharge their duty, and righteousness and the fear of God will abun­dantly increase in our midst.

You have been pleased to allude to my literary works; permit me, therefore, to say a few words concerning the enterprise, for which I have come, brethren, to solicit your aid, and in which I acknowledge with gratitude, you have given me more support in comparison with numbers, than I have received elsewhere. I allude to the purposed new version of the Holy Scriptures. It has often struck me as very surprising that we have been so long satisfied with a translation which has sprung from men who, in their ideas, at least, were hostile to our religion—if even otherwise they may have been friendly to Israelites themselves. It was to have been expected of such as these, that they would carry into the Scriptures any peculiar views they might entertain as regards doctrines and practice, and this without any intention of being dishonest. But is this any reason for our adopting such a version as our guide? and, it must be remembered that, to many of those who are unacquainted with the Hebrew, the English Bible forms almost the only source of religious impressions. Time, indeed, was, when our population was too small to support such an enterprise as I have laid before you; but all this is changed; and the numerous congregations now everywhere existing, or springing up in places where the God of Israel was formerly, and until lately, not invoked, renders it a duty obligatory on us to wipe off this disgrace, and to make, at least, the effort to furnish a transcript of the Bible more in accordance with the original text. The task to execute this has been rendered much easier, of late years. First arose the great Mendelssohn, who commenced the Work by translating anew the five Books of Moses, the Psalms, and other minor pieces; he was soon followed by such men as Friedlander, Ottensosser, Hochstadter, Heineman, Shalom Cohen, Zuns, Salomon, Heidenbeim, Sachs, Philippson, Arnheim, Herxheimer, Fürst, and many others, and now the materials are ready for the labourer; and all that is demanded of him is to use faithfully the means which others have prepared ready for his hands; and should I obtain sufficient encouragement in the other cities, which I hope soon to visit, you may rely on my honestly endeavouring to do full justice to the work as far as my capacity extends.

In conclusion, I will not tell you to remember me, for your unsolicited kindness assures me that you will not forget the one who <<37>> came among you a stranger, and leaves you surrounded by so many friendly faces; but, on my side, I mare you that the pleasure of this evening’s meeting shall be long engraven on my memory, and be often recalled when I shall float on the face of mighty waters; and when travelling over land in pursuit of my journey. I bid you all hearty farewell, and wish you many blessings for yourselves and those who are dear to you.

B. H. G.