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First Annual Meeting of the American Jewish Publication Society


Agreeably to the constitution the parent society met on Sunday the 1st of November, it being the second Sunday in Heshvan. Owing to the great inclemency of the weather, the meeting was not as large as would have otherwise been the case. A report was read of the operation of the society during the first year of its existence, and it was stated that the

Receipts had amounted to $617 00
Expenditures, 352 43
Leaving in Treasurer's hands, 265 27

The receipts consisted in subscriptions, donation, and sales of the publications of the society, which, considering the difficulty under which an enterprise like this naturally labours in the beginning, shows a gratifying state of the finances.

We deem it necessary to state that several small sums are yet due to the society, and perhaps from sixty to seventy dollars is yet due for work done and materials furnished; so that the available amount for future operations may be stated at about two hundred and thirty dollars.

The society have published four books, amounting in all to fully 450 pages, under the name of the Jewish Miscellany, Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 4, and would have issued another number of a proportionate amount of pages, had it not been for the illness of the Chairman of the Publication Committee, whose duty it is, in conjunction with his colleagues, to revise the works that are to be published.

The expenditures have been solely for the pay of paper, printing, and binding, and fifteen dollars paid to a competent gentleman for translating a book from the French, which will soon be issued as No. 5 of the Miscellany. Among the printing are included the constitution of the society, circulars, notices, and orders, all of which will not be necessary in the coming year. All the other services, with the exception of the delivery of some few notices, have been rendered gratuitously.

We have thus condensed in a brief manner the work which has been performed during the one year of the existence of the society; and it will be perceived that so far has commenced, and successfully too, to distribute good reading, all tending to uphold Jewish views, into most of the settlements of Jews in America; at the same time having a large surplus of books as the property of the society which, when disposed of, will add material means to enable it to proceed with its hallowed work.

To our mind, and we think that all reflecting men must agree with us, there never has been formed an institution in either England or America, more calculated to effect so great an amount of good, as the one under discussion. It appeals to no sect or division among us for support; but speaks to all who believe in the sacredness and permanence of the law of Moses, to do some little to aid in the diffusion of knowledge of religion into every quarter, into every house where Israelites are settled; to provide mental food which the young may partake of without endangering their fidelity to the Revelation of Sinai. Only those who have had extensive reading can be fully alive to the danger of indiscriminate perusal by young people of (so called) religious books in the English language. Few indeed of them but contain insidious attacks against the Jewish religion, or slighting remarks concerning our ecclesiastical authorities; or misrepresentations of our views and opinions; or false statements concerning our history and character. It requires no great wisdom to discover that it is not good for our children to become insensibly prejudiced against ourselves, and thus become their own enemies, before they are even aware that there is any danger to their peace. The mind is formed insensibly, just as a plant grows up to its full maturity by unperceived gradations; and as the latter requires tending in order to obtain the figure and size you may desire for it, so does the former need, in a much greater degree, that close watchfulness, lest any falsehood enter into its very being, which care will alone produce; that state of obedience and deference to parental or magisterial instruction which may be said to respond to what it has learned. You cannot think that a tree will grow up straight and free from unsightly excrescences, if you permit every mischievous urchin to hack away the bark, cut into the wood, and tear away the tender branches; equally useless for you is it to give your children wholesome lessons, and then let them imbibe what views they may please from any casual visitor and from every sort of books.

Now we have, as said, but few books of a religious character in circulation among us; all the literature which is accessible, is more or less anti-Jewish; children will and must read; grown persons too cannot withstand the desire for information; in the name then of the principles which we all profess to venerate, let us build up a literature of our own, so that all classes may peruse the same without taking up thereby erroneous views of our faith, or becoming prejudiced against ourselves. Foster such a literature, and it is morally certain that Jews will respect themselves, and will not be ashamed to avow their belonging to the ancient house of Israel. It is not our rich men, no matter how wealthy or high in reputation, we will not name any, we except none and include none, nor our political aspirants, who give character and importance to our people; but the men who in the quiet retirement of their rooms give vent to thoughts that enkindle a brilliant flame in the soul, and direct her flight upward; it is these who throw a glory around the name of Israel; and we would sooner be a Maimonides, a Kimchi, a Mendelssohn, a Heidenheim, or any one of the humblest of the brilliant constellations who have impressed their sentiments on the mind of our people, than be the foremost of those who revel in countless millions, or who are on the pinnacle of earthly power, and live only for the day, and are forgotten as soon as their days on earth are ended.

Impressed with these sentiments, which we trust are those of nearly all our readers, we call upon all to stand by Jewish literature, and to foster the society which was formed for no other end than to enable all to obtain religious books, and such reading as will not chill in them the ardour for their faith; and on the other hand, to open a field for Jewish talent, and enable those in whom has been placed wisdom to speak to their brothers through the means of the press, upon the concerns of eternal life.

All lovers of Judaism, especially all our ministers, are fully as much interested as the writer of this article. We therefore call upon them in the name of the faith which we honour, to give to this enterprise all their own individual aid, and to urge upon their friends to do so likewise. It is but a small sum which is asked of each individual; but the many little contributions will swell into a large amount; and with the blessing of Heaven, the society will be enabled to scatter much good among all classes of Israelites, and become a means of salvation to many a thirsting spirit.

The officers elected for the current year, are, Abr. Hart, President; Henry Cohen and David Samuel, Vice-Presidents; J. L. Moss, Treasurer; Alfred T. Jones, Recording Secretary; Isaac Leeser, Corresponding Secretary; and Hyman Gratz, A. S. Wolf, Leon Hyneman, L. Arnold, E. P. Levy, and David H. Solis, Managers.