|Vol. IV, No. 5
Ab 5606, August 1846
Laying of the Corner Stone of the Synagogue Shaaray Tefilla,
July 7th, Tamuz 13th, 5606.
The most gratifying occurrence that has taken place for some years past, in the Jewish community, was the ceremony of laying the corner stone of the building designated “Shaaray Tefilla,” or Gates of Prayer, situated in Wooster between Spring and Prince Streets.
The members of the congregation and invited personages, as well as the officers and members of the various congregations of this city, (to whom a general invitation had been given,) organized at their present temporary Synagogue, 67 Franklin Street. The Rev. J. J. Lyons, the President and Board of Trustees, Messrs. Kursheedt and Simson (of Yonkers), &c., &c., attended from the Portuguese congregation “Shearith Israel;” as also the chief Rabbi of the German congregations, the Rev. Max. Lilienthal; Rev. J. Hecht, the officers and members of the congregation “Anshi Chesed,” Henry Street; Rev. J. Levy; the officers and members of the congregation “Shaarai Shamoim,” Attorney Street; Rev. J. Heilner; and the officers and members of the congregation “Rodeph Sholem,” Attorney Street. The building was crowded; the ladies’ gallery being temporarily occupied for the occasion. After the afternoon service had been read, the procession was formed in the following order: The architects; the Rev. S. M. Isaacs, on whose right was the Rev. Mr. Lyons, and left the Rev. Dr. Lilienthal; the readers of other congregations; the presiding officer and, treasurer of the congregation “Shaaray Tefilla,” or Gates of Prayer; the presiding officer and trustees of the congregation “Shearith Israel;” the presiding officers and trustees of various other congregations; a numerous cortége of Christian gentlemen; the four oldest members of the congregation: Messrs. Levi, Hart, Morrison, and Content; the members of the Portuguese and other congregations; closed by the members of the congregation “Shaaray Tefilla.”
The procession, numbering near three hundred, proceeded up Broadway, down Spring Street to the ground, where it was received by the Building Committee, who had been on the ground attending to the reception of the fair daughters of Israel, who were there in full numbers, from all the above congregations.
The Rev. Mr. Isaacs being installed in a temporary pulpit, the four gentlemen, Messrs. Hart, Morrison, Levi, and Content, who had been appointed to act as attendants, held the canopy used at the celebration of our weddings over the corner stone, and. the reverend gentlemen, assisted by the Board of Officers and Building Committee, commenced the following order of proceedings:
A Hebrew chaunt in full chorus; a prayer composed by the Rev. S. M. Isaacs, for the prosperity of the government and institutions of this country; the 29th Psalm was sung in Hebrew; after which a prayer for the different congregations represented on the ground, was read in Hebrew and English.
The following was then enclosed in a leaden case, prepared to fit the cavity in the corner stone:
A metallic plate, with an inscription giving a detailed account of the proceedings of the day; the names of the President of the United States, the Governor of the State of New York, the Mayor of the city, the Building Committee, and also of the architects, masons, and carpenters; a parchment scroll, with the names of the founders of the congregation (numbering fifty-one), and of those members who have joined since its commencement; the constitution of the congregation; the causes of the present building being erected; and the names of the officers of the congregation, with the seal attached; Hebrew Pentateuch, and prayer book; periodicals pertaining to the Jewish literature of the present age;* and a scroll with the names of the officers of the Portuguese congregation.
The committee then presented the Rev. S. M. Isaacs with a large silver trowel, on which was an inscription setting forth for what purposes its uses had been applied, date, &c.; and during the impressive lecture which was subsequently given, the reverend gentleman referred to this article in most eloquent language, terming it the “heirloom of his children.” The leaden case was then placed in the cavity of the stone, the reverend gentleman saying a blessing over it, and then placed the mortar around the stone; in this act, most of the members assisted, displaying such zeal and heartfelt joy, as if they were fraternally all masons, and disposed to assist in erecting a building worthy of being consecrated to the worship of the Most High, where “Worship, Order, and Respectability,” would be the graces, to adorn the building of which this act was laying the foundation.
The reverend gentleman then ascended a pulpit in the centre of the ground, and delivered a discourse, taking his text from 1 Samuel, 7:12.
His hearers will admit, that for the many years he has been following his vocation, and of the very many soul-stirring lectures he has given, during the time, none ever exceeded the impressive one given this day.
His present flock have for years past valued and appreciated his worth and talent, but until this period the true value of his name and character in this city had never becomes so well known. The whole assembly (numbering over fifteen hundred), amongst whom were a number of our most distinguished Christian citizens, were loud in their praise of the manner in which he conducted the whole of the proceedings, and of the eloquence of his language in the heartfelt lecture with which he impressed his hearers.
Were I to give any detail of the expressions of enthusiasm from the members of the congregation, while observing their desired wishes about to be realized, I should be transcending the limits usually granted similar communications. To conclude, allow me to congratulate the efficient officers of the congregation, as well as the Building and other Committees, upon the regulations they adopted. The regularity with which all the proceedings were conducted, is an evidence that the reverend lecturer’s motto, this day given to the four winds of heaven, “Worship, Order, and Respectability,” will be supported by this congregation, and thus raise it amongst the first of the occidental world.