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Vol. X. No. 7
Tishry 5613 October 1852

The Israelites of Cleveland


To the Editor of the Occident:—In reference to the report concerning the Israelitish Anshé Chesed Congregation of Cleveland, Ohio, in No. 6 of vol. x. of the Occident, we request you to notice a designed error of your reporter, B. L. F. Mr. Isidor Kalisch, who has been educated as Rabbi in the first Yeshiboth under the highest Talmudical authorities, and as a theologian in the Universities of Berlin and Breslau, who moreover was a contributor to various learned periodicals in Germany, is among us not only Hazan, but likewise Rabbi, preacher, and religious instructor. We, who are thoroughly acquainted with the affairs of both the congregations of this place, promise you speedily a detailed statement of the rise and development of the same. In conclusion, we cannot avoid expressing our surprise that you, Mr. Editor, who ought to be acquainted with our congregational affairs no less than with Mr. Kalisch, who was lately your correspondent for the Occident., should have known better how to appreciate his services, than to accept the communication of B. L. F., which contains designed misrepresentations, and is intended merely to praise himself, without cor<<362>>recting the same. In the hope that you will insert this letter at once in the Occident, we remain,

Respectfully yours,
J. Engelhart, President,
C. Koch, Vice-President,
G. A. Davis, Treasurer,
D. Cauffman,
David Hexter,
Samuel Loeb,
F. J. Cohn, Trustees
A Schwab,
late President of Israeli. Anshé Chesed and Tifereth Israel Congregations.

Cleveland, September 12th, 5612.

Note by the Editor.—We indeed discovered that B. L. F. wished to place his own labours somewhat prominently before the public; but this we did not deem any insult to Mr. Kalisch, as little as the statement that he was Hazan and Teacher; as we have in our own person filled both these functions, and were nevertheless the preacher of the oldest congregation in Philadelphia for twenty years, without any other title than Hazan. To be sure our preaching was gratuitous, and was not embraced in the contract which was drawn up by the managers of the congregation; but surely there is no insult in being called the Hazan of any public body, especially in America, where, until the arrival of Rabbi A. Rice, of Baltimore, not long since, it was the highest ecclesiastical title among us. We have borne it for upwards of twenty-one years, and thought it no degradation, though we occasionally acted as Rabbi, and preached not a few sermons, with what success is not for us to say. Hence we trust that our friends at Cleveland will discharge us from any intention of slighting them or Mr. Kalisch, whose contributions we have from time to time inserted in the Occident. Though one thing we must state, that if Mr. K. should be attacked hereafter (but not in the Occident, as our work has a higher aim than destroying characters), it will be his own fault, for his extremely injudicious course in the divorce case, since he has not rested till he succeeded in appearing before the public in the Asmonean as the accuser of Mr. Joseph Levy.

For our part, we are tired of the controversy; it is a subject for a שאלה (Question) to the highest autho<<363>>rities in Europe; and we will abide by their decision; but no man who understands the nature of Jewish jurisprudence will for a moment contend that either Plaindealer, Asmonean, or Occident, is a proper vehicle to decide the controversy. We tried all we could to smother the public dispute which has arisen mainly from the dissatisfaction of Mr. Kalisch with Mr. Levy’s proceedings, but it was to no purpose; Mr. K. himself would be heard; Dr. Wise would be heard; other anonymous writers would also be seen; and now the matter stands in a position not very creditable to the charitable feelings of Mr. L.’s antagonists.

If the gentlemen in favour of reforms assail their opponents after this fashion, it is not difficult to perceive with whom the popular feeling will be before long; we, for one, will look upon the assailed as the injured parties; simply because our nature revolts against treading under foot those who abide by the ancient landmarks, independently of any repugnance at wholesale condemnation, which is so unbecoming a professor of religion. We only intended to promote peace, to bring extremes together, and this both Mr. Kalisch and Mr. Levy must have seen when we were at Cleveland; but we fear that we are looked upon with some distrust by both parties, simply because we are impartial. The abuse we have received in the course of the correspondence from more than one quarter, both in letters and by the press, we can well forgive, without taking up the cudgels to defend a character which, though often assailed, has, thank God, not been much damaged in the contest; but it is, at the same time, gratifying to observe that Israelites in America have learned at length to guard the reputation of their minis­ters, and we hope that they may soon learn to extend the same care over the fair fame of those who were formerly their servants, and still labour in the holy cause of our people.

Will the gentlemen in question, for once take our advice? If so, we recommend them to regard each other with more kindness, and learn to tolerate each other, if they cannot make a lasting peace. It is unseemly that those who can be of service to the people, should cast suspicion on each other, and allow nothing for differences of opinion. It is wrong; and the sooner mutual recrimination is put a stop to, the better for the parties, the better for us all. Let there be peace in Israel! We know perfectly well what we say, and we mean this for other latitudes than Cleveland; only let those who favour the modern order of things, not ridicule the lover of the old, and let these not denounce the former as heretics and non-Israelites. It is easy to sow dissension and to foment discord; but after <<364>> all there is nothing gained by so doing, while all may be injured, and much must be lost. It is time that this were altered, and we trust that it will be done.