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Jewish Schools.

To the Editor of the Occident,

Some time ago I read, with delight, in the Occident, an article to establish a Jewish colony in the United States; and, although I cannot agree with the writer on the expediency of the plan in all its details still there are many feasible points which might prove beneficial to those of our brethren who labour under civil disabilities in Europe. At some future period, I intend to discuss this matter more fully, and am of opinion some plan could be formed for the amelioration of the condition of our disfranchised brethren in aristocratic and despotic countries of the old world, in particular Russia and the petty governments of Germany, where bigotry sways its sceptre. But, Mr. Editor, “Charity commences at home,” is an old adage; and before I, as an humble individual, would exercise my efforts in aiding in the formation of a Jewish colony, my exertions must first be exercised in the establishment of Hebrew Public schools, where our children can be educated in accordance with our faith, without being compelled to listen to the reading and expounding of other religious tenets. Let me not be misunderstood in using the word compulsion; there exists so much liberality in the public school system, that no child, contrary to the wishes of its parents, is forced to recite from the New Testament; but you will agree with me, that our children, in particular those of a very tender age, imbibe a considerable portion of the tenets of the Christian faith. Let us, therefore, try and establish schools under our own personal and spiritual guidance, till the children arrive at such an age that they could be bound out to learn the arts and trades, instead of educating our youths to follow mercantile pursuits.

I feel confident that every Israelite would willingly contribute liberally towards the establishment of a seminary, where, independent of the usual instruction imparted in our public schools, they could be taught the holy tongue, and where the tenets of our blessed religion would be properly inculcated by teachers of our own faith.

To procure the necessary funds for such an institution, would be the first consideration. I think there would be no difficulty in obtaining voluntary contributions to so noble a cause, and a small tax on each Israelite, would amount to a sufficient sum to commence operations.

I am aware that the word tax is an ominous one; but where is the Israelite in this free and blessed country, who does not cheerfully pay any taxes imposed on us as citizens, whenever the good of the Commonwealth requires it? And shall we, as Israelites, not as willingly pay a contribution which tends solely to our benefit here, and the aggrandizement of the faith of our forefathers, and, above all, our eternal salvation hereafter?

Should this hasty sketch meet with your approval, and the approbation of your subscribers, I will, at some future period, enlarge on the subject.


Philadelphia, 11th October, 1844.

NOTE BY THE EDITOR.—We regret that Philo has sent in the above without his name; but as the subject-matter is one which has long since occupied our earnest thoughts, we give it to our readers on our own responsibility, without, as is usual with us, demanding previously the author’s name, who, however, will oblige us by calling in person, at all events by continuing the discussion he has commenced, in the pages of the Occident. The position which we hold brings us daily in contact with Israelites from every part of America and many countries of Europe, and this intercourse has satisfied us, that it is education, in its most liberal sense, which must be looked to, in order to sustain our religious system. But education must not be merely one of elegance and accomplishment; for this will not make our men and women Jews in feeling and practice; but it must, to be useful, entwine itself round the soul of our brethren and sisters, to induce them to lead a consistent religious life, even in the midst of temptations and difficulties. Wherever we have heard of conversions they have been owing to one of three causes; first, interest; second, ignorance; and third, improper education. If now we understand our correspondent, he wishes to see our children Jewish in conduct and in feeling; and hence we beg him, when he continues his discussion, not to lose sight of this important consideration, and to urge upon our brethren the necessity of so training our youth, that neither of the above reasons may induce them to quit our blessed faith for the communion with any other people.

We will merely add, that we should be delighted could we see all our interests call forth public discussion; for by this means only can that apathy be overcome which now weighs down our energies. Hence we are always glad when a new correspondent claims our pages, to lay his thoughts before our brethren; and we therefore also invite all to come forward and and use the Occident as the common vehicle of information provided for American Israelites. Should we succeed in this we shall have gained an important point by the establishment of our monthly.