Home page The Occident and American Jewish Advocate Jews in the Civil War Jews in the Wild West History of Palestine The Occident Virtual Library


Jamaica—The Russian Ukase.

We present below the official proceedings of the Israelites of Kingston with reference to the edict of the Russian emperor banishing from the frontiers about half a million of his Jewish subjects, under the frivolous pretext that some have been engaged in smuggling. It is not denied that this species of business has been extensively carried on, on the frontiers dividing the Austrian and Russian dominions; but it is contended that the Christians were much more guilty of breaches of law than their Israelitish neighbours. We will only observe that in countries, where merely an imaginary line forms the boundary, like between Poland and Gallicia, and where the prohibitory duties offer a virtual bounty for an infraction of the laws, and above all, where the officers appointed to guard the lines are venal and corruptible, smuggling cannot be presented even by the autocrat of all the Russias with a million of soldiers to enforce his decrees. How ridiculous is it therefore to punish all the Jews for the offence of a few, committed with the connivance of the imperial officers themselves and participated in by immense numbers of their gentile neighbours! To carry out his policy with any degree of system, Nicholas ought to depopulate his frontiers to the extent of fifty wersts, if he wishes to punish all the smugglers and prevent smuggling in future. But this does not suit his views, and he wreaks his vengeance upon the helpless Jews whom necessity compels to live under his black banners, and who are not even permitted to expatriate themselves, since the places of their future settlement within the limits of the empire are designated in their passports, and whoever knows any thing of European police-laws must be aware how dangerous it would be, particularly for a Jew, to leave the country without a pass. It makes the heart sick to hear people talk of the sympathy of certain Christian for the Jews. Their missionaries are to convert us from our faith; but where is their aid when we are oppressed? when persecuted?—We will not say all that we feel, for fear of offending the many real friends whom Israelites have among the gentiles, for there are many sincere friends who from their soul wish us well; but they are the silent ones, the minority; the active and noisy are however the leaders in the conversion efforts, and these invoke prejudice by their very futile efforts, whatever their professions may be. We give them credit for sincerity; we honestly believe them when they say, they are acting from a sense of duty; but this we will tell them, that, if they really wish to serve us, they would do well to aid the oppressed Israelites, and to induce European powers to let the same laws govern the Jews which govern the gentiles.

We have been led away to say much more than we intended as an introduction to the subjoined resolutions. We regret that our friends in Jamaica have not proposed some definite system of action instead of the general resolutions which they have passed.—But we leave it to the various congregations of Israelites in the United States, Canada, and the West India Islands, whether it would not be advisable to concert some measure, and to unite in an appeal to the various governments to interpose their good offices in behalf of the oppressed Israelites of Russia. It may be late before such an appeal can be made effective, but not too late to effect some good; for arbitrary as the Russian government professedly is, it cannot carry into banishment half a million of souls in one year or two years even. Wickedness takes time for its consummation as well as virtuous resolves; and upon this we rely.—Who knows but the present juncture is another call to union as was the martyrdom of precious souls at Damascus? We believe in providential rule; for as not a sparrow falls but it is decreed from Supreme Wisdom, may this event then be not also from God, to awaken anew the feeling of brotherly love of all Israel one for the other?

We beg the distant congregations who may first receive the Jamaica resolutions in the Occident, to regard them as officially communicated to them direct, since the difficulty and expense of transmitting to each a number of documents by mail, the only other practical method, must be considered as a bar to a more direct communication between them and our brothers of Jamaica.

Ed. Oc.

At a Meeting

Of the the Members of the Hebrew Community of this city, convened pursuant to public notice, and holden in the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, on Thursday, the 7th March, 1844,  

A. A. Lindo, Esq., having been called to the chair, addressed the meeting. He stated that its object was to afford the opportunity to the Hebrew Community, here, of expressing the sentiments entertained by them of the extraordinary ukase that had been promulgated in Russia, against five hundred thousand of our co-religionists in that quarter, who had been ordered to remove from the Western Frontier, into the interior of the empire, by the 31st December, last.

He adverted to the blessings enjoyed by the Jews, under the British government and particularly in this island, by a participation in all the rights and privileges possessed by other classes; that we should manifest but little gratitude for those blessings, did we remain inactive when we heard of such cruelties as are being practised towards our co-religionists in other parts; that however powerful might be the human means employed on this occasion, they would avail little, without Divine interposition. It therefore behoved the meeting to invoke, in this sacred edifice, that aid on behalf of our unfortunate co-religionists and to inspire us, likewise, with discretion in the adoption of such proceedings as may ultimately lead to the preservation of our brethren, from the destruction that threatens them.

Two sets of resolutions were then submitted to the meeting, and referred to a committee, consisting of P. Lawrence, M. Q. Henriques, S. J. Altman, D. De Leon, B. Naar, I. De Clavo, M. Sarfaty, and Solomon Myers, Eqrs., who, having retired, returned in half an hour, and laid before the meeting the following resolutions, which were unanimously adopted.

Resolved, That the imperial ukase ordering the removal of five hundred thousand Jews from the Western Frontier of Russia, where they and their ancestors had been dwelling upwards of six hundred years, into certain districts, only, of the interior of that empire, calls upon their brethren, wherever settled, to unite their voices with other philanthropists, against the perpetration of an act, as much opposed to a wise policy, as it is repugnant to the prevailing convictions and sentiments of the age.

That the manly and powerful manner in which the British press has advocated the cause of suffering humanity, in recording its unqualified disgust and reprehension of the Russian ukase, does it honour, and entitles it to the gratitude of the whole civilized world, and of the Jewish people especially.

That the chairman be requested to transmit a copy of the resolutions adopted by this meeting, to the Board of Deputies of the British Jews in London, for the purpose of assuring them, that although no public demonstration has yet made known, the measures no doubt contemplated by them, to avert the final execution of the ukase, their brethren of this island place every reliance on their vigilance being effectually exerted on this, as on a former occasion, on behalf of our suffering co-religionists.

That the chairman be requested to transmit a copy of the resolutions of this meeting to such congregation in America and the colonies, as may be deemed proper.

That the chairman be requested to transmit a copy of the resolutions of this meeting, to the editors of "The Times," "Morning Herald," "Sun," and "Nation," as the expression of the sense entertained by the Jews in this island, of their noble and disinterested conduct on this extraordinary occurrence.

That the proprietors of newspapers in this island, be requested to insert the resolutions of this meeting in their respective papers.

That a copy of the resolutions passed at this meeting, be transmitted to the editors of "The Voice of Jacob," "The Occident," "The First Fruits of the West," as well as to any other Jewish publication that may be deemed proper, with a request that the same be published in their respective periodicals.

Mr. Lindo having quitted the chair, Mr. Lawrence was called thereto, when the thanks of the meeting were unanimously recorded to Mr. Lindo, for his conduct in the chair.

A. A. Lindo,
Chairman of the Meeting.

Kingston, Jamaica, March 8th, 1844.