|Vol. IV, No. 2
Iyar 5606, May 1846
Examination of Misses Palache's School.
New York, April 9th, 5606.
The above examination took place on Sunday, the 29th of March, in the presence of a talented, select, and discriminating audience. We noticed particularly, the Rev. Dr. Lilienthal, Rev. S. M. Isaacs, and Rev. J. J. Lyons, seated together in a place most suitable for examining the pupils. Previous to the regular exercises, the young ladies sang in the most correct tune and time, the 29th Psalm, אין כאלהינו מזמור לדוד and אדון עולם which, to say the least of, could not have been excelled by the best trained choir. The ten commandments were then recited in English and Hebrew; after which, they said the thirteen articles of faith also in Hebrew and English. What was particularly interesting in the last, was, that every article was substantiated by a proof from the Pentateuch. They were then questioned about the different feasts, fasts, and ceremonies, observed by our people, and they answered in the most satisfactory manner, stating the objects of the different observances, together with the history which gave rise to them. The teachers then made each child read a portion of the daily prayers. Those belonging to the Portuguese Synagogue, according to the Portuguese pronunciation, and those belonging to the other congregations, according to the Polish and German pronunciation. This is an advantage possessed by this school which few persons were hitherto aware of, and we must do the Misses Palache the justice to state, that their manner of teaching Hebrew reading is unexceptionable; in fact, we were little prepared to hear such correct reading from such young children.
Then came the most interesting part, viz., the examination in biblical history. It is impossible to do justice to the teachers, nor to the scholars, in the brief space of a report. Suffice it when we state, that the interrogatories and answers embraced the whole sacred history, from the creation down to the Babylonian captivity. The promptness and unhesitating manner in which they replied to the various questions put to them, proved beyond a doubt, that they were perfectly au fait in the contents of the Bible. The audience seemed highly delighted, and your reporter among the number. Each young lady answered in her own ingenious way, giving her own version, which showed that she did not acquire this knowledge by any mechanical process. We understand that the Misses P. are in the habit of reading one or two chapters of the Bible every morning, giving, at the same time, such explanations (interspersed sometimes with tradition) as the capacity of their pupils will allow. It is by such means that they succeed in making a lasting impression on the children's minds. French and English declamation followed next. Here again we must observe that the pronunciation of the first is much better than we have been in the habit of hearing at most other schools, owing to the Misses P. having engaged the services of the best French teachers in the city. Geography and history were the last branches in which the children were examined, the result of which was as gratifying as the rest. In short, every one present felt that nothing was left to be desired. One vied with the other, in showering encomiums upon the teachers and scholars.
After the conclusion of the exercises, יגדל was chaunted by the children in the most admirable style.
The Rev. S. M. Isaacs then made a very eloquent impromptu address to the pupils, thanking them for the gratification they had afforded him that day, and stimulating them to farther exertions. He exhorted them very affectionately to listen to the kind advice and wholesome principles of their teachers, to be implicitly obedient to their parents, and to look upon the sacred book, with the contents of which they appeared to be so familiar, as their only safeguard against the evils incidental to human nature. He compared men's life to the four seasons of the year. If they will sow their seed in spring with care, they will reap an abundant harvest, and their winter (their old age) will pass in peace and happiness. The reverend gentleman impressed strongly on their minds, that the present generation looks to them for their hopes in the future welfare of Israel, and judging from the proceedings of that day, he felt confident these hopes will be realized.
We cannot conclude without tendering our sincere thanks to the Misses Palache for their share in contributing towards the elevation of Israel. They have had many obstacles and difficulties to overcome before they could succeed in establishing their school permanently. Even now we observed that the school might, be more numerously attended, especially by children from the German congregations, although we have no doubt that this very examination will induce many persons who were present, to avail themselves of the advantages held out to them. It may, perhaps, not be improper to remark here, that there appears to be an indifference, or rather a total carelessness, in regard to the religious education of females, even amongst persons who are otherwise religiously inclined. Why such a state of things should exist, we cannot even conjecture. Is a woman a less responsible being than a man? Is it not the mother from whom the child receives its first ideas, thoughts, and impressions? Parents, beware! how you trifle with the felicity of your daughters. Let them be taught to be at home in the Synagogue, as well as in the drawing-room, and then (but not till then) you will have done your duty שקר החן והבל היפי אשה יראת ה' היא תתהלל "Grace is an illusion, beauty is vanity. The woman who feareth the Lord, she alone is praiseworthy."