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Of the Children of the Society for Instruction of Jewish Doctrines, at Charleston, S. C.

On the first Sunday in May last, the fourth annual examination took place at the Temperance Hall, when the parents, friends, and many visitors of different persuasions, were present to witness the interesting exhibition. The joyous looks of the children, the anxious hopes of the parents, the capability of the teachers, caused every one present to thank God for the establishment of an institution in which the word of God in inculcated in the minds of children, according to the true and ancient faith of our forefathers. The exercises commenced with a suitable prayer by the Rev. Mr. Rosenfeld, and was followed by the children singing the hymn of Adon Ngolam. The different classes were then examined in Scriptural questions, catechism, and Bible questions, in all of which they acquitted themselves to the satisfaction of all present. Appropriate pieces were recited by several of the pupils, and one of the most interesting parts was the thirteen articles of the Jewish creed, which were given in Hebrew and translated in English, by the children of the highest class.

After the examination, an address was delivered by Master Lizar Joseph, a pupil of the institution, and also one by Miss Lazarus, both of whom acquitted themselves handsomely on the occasion. Miss Hart, the President of the institution, read the annual Report, and the prizes were delivered to the children by the teachers. The ceremonies then closed with a suitable prayer by the Rev. Mr. Rosenfeld, and the singing of the Yigdal.

It could not but be very gratifying to the parents to see their children instructed in the true and ancient doctrine of Judaism, notwithstanding the related efforts made in this city to introduce new doctrines, not in accordance with Judaism; and too much praise cannot be bestowed on the officers and teachers for their zeal in the noble cause, which we all hope and pray may continue to prosper.

The officers for the ensuing year are as follows:

Miss H. Hart, President; Mrs. P. Lopez, Vice-President; Mrs. P. Friedlander, Secretary and Treasurer; Mrs. M. Loovis, Mrs. M. A. Levy, Mrs. N. Levin, Mrs. A. Tobias,  Mrs. D. D. Cohen, Trustees; Miss P. Tobias, Miss F. Cohen, Miss R. Alexander, Miss I. Hendricks,  Miss. F. Joseph, Miss J. Zachariah, Miss Caroline Hart, Teachers.

President’s Report

In conformity with a custom, which was established when you did me the honour of presiding over this institution, I proceed to give an outline of its objects and condition.

We can scarcely recall to mind, my friends, a period in the history of the world, when existence was worth so much, or could be turned to so large an account, as at the present time. Rarely have efforts so various been made for the benefit of the rising generation, and peculiarly so, in relation to our own people. Never before have there existed so many and so wide doors for exertion,—telling directly on our religious, moral, intellectual, and social conditions. All monopolies of privilege have begun to give way. Right and duty have begun to be heard, where persecution and power have for ages held undivided sway. The blessings of religious education are entering the abodes of darkness, with a light, that gladdens every heart on which it shines. A serious question here arises; it is this,—What is our duty? Every Israelite, mother and father, ought to pause upon, and ponder on this question. The cause of religious instruction comes not alone; it is closely affiliated with every good cause that bears on this world and the world to come. Religion, morality, education all those; influences and powers that fit us for our duty here and happiness hereafter, crowd thick around it, and make up the glories which swell its triumphs. Would you promote the good of Israel, my friends, and so gain a claim to their gratitude, and a joyous emotion of soul? How can you so readily or so rapidly secure these two objects, as by throwing your influence in the scale of this society, to lead up Israel’s youth to Israel’s God? Do we love our religion? Then let us advance this cause, and we will be astonished at its length and breadth, its depth and height. It has no bounds. Interwoven with every relation we sustain to this world and the world to come, it is mingled with all our duties to God, our neighbour, and ourselves.

The importance of this subject must be obvious to every mind; it should be deeply impressed upon the hearts of the mothers of Israel; for where a mother neglects the early religious culture of her child, she is the direct and sole agent in effecting the ruin of a soul, born for the happiness of eternal life.

Teach the child that God is holy and all-powerful, that He disapproves of, and has commanded us not to commit sinful acts. Teach the little one what is sin, and in matured life the lesson impressed upon the plastic mind of youth, never will be forgotten. The commands and precepts of the Most High will be the rule and guide of its actions in after life; “a lamp unto its feet, and a light unto its path.”

Upon the mother this duty pre-eminently devolves. She in a peculiar manner has the confidence of her child; in her ear is breathed the tale of its complaints, and to her it looks for favour. She has that mind under her control; and at that time can give it an inflexible direction. Its confidence, which she intuitively possesses, enables her to mould it as she pleases; and when we consider the importance of the subject, we cannot but wonder at the silence of mothers on the subject of religion, in their intercourse with their children. Mothers! see that you employ the power God has given you for good. See that the mind of your little ones is impregnated with early religious instruction. See that its first aspirations go up to God.

We feel assured that all who are present will unite with us in thanks to the Almighty for the good He has made this Institution accomplish for the three past years, and for the hope that good has inspired us with, that, under His guidance and with His blessing, we may be enabled still farther to extend the sphere of our usefulness.

It was with a deep sense of the responsibility I incurred, that I entered upon the duties of the  station which your voices called me to fill. This station and this responsibility my own disposition did not lead me to assume; and I can only hope to be able to discharge the duties which have thus devolved upon me, in a manner satisfactorily to yourselves, by the aid and support of those who are ready and willing to labour in the vineyard of the  Lord.

Let me then return my grateful acknowledgments to our respected minister, the Rev. Mr. Rosenfeld, for the ever-ready assistance he has afforded in furthering the objects of this Institution, particularly in elucidating passages in the holy writings, which the mistranslations of the Anglican version so frequently render necessary, and which his knowledge of the language in which they were proclaimed by the Divine voice peculiarly adapts him for.

To the teachers I would also return my thanks for tho unabated zeal which has marked their onward course. Theirs has indeed been a labour of love; and may they reap a rich harvest, in seeing the seed they have planted take deep root, flourish, and bring forth goodly fruit, that will be pleasing in the sight of our Heavenly Father, and tend to the honour and glory of His name.

May your children deeply appreciate the lessons which it has been their endeavour to instill,—the glorious privilege calling themselves God’s chosen people; the recipients of his law; a nation of priests, from whom the word is to go forth; so that all His children may know His holy name, and join in the watchword of Israel, the word that wafts his parting soul to heaven: “The Lord is one, and His name is one. Blessed be His name for ever and ever.”

Address of Lizar Joseph

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Prompted by a deep feeling of respect towards those who disinterestedly have taken up the cause of our holy religion, to implant a knowledge of God and his holy word in the minds of youth, and instil within them sentiments of piety, and urged by a grateful heart for the instruction which I have received in this institution, I avail myself of the present opportunity of expressing my sincere thanks and gratitude, and thus publicly acknowledging how much I appreciate the instruction so kindly bestowed on me. It is not my desire on this occasion to attempt a display of oratory, for I feel my incompetence, and therefore expect your kind indulgence.

The advantages of a religious education have been so forcibly illustrated by the best writers and orators of ancient and modern times, that I deem it boldness in me to advance an opinion of my own before so intelligent an audience on so important a subject: yet I cannot refrain from making a few observations on the subject: and I trust you will make such allowances as a youth of my age and inexperience may expect. I shall attempt to lay before you this morning, as far as my humble capacity will allow me, the necessity of a Jewish religious education, and the benefits derived from it by the Jewish Youth.

The Jewish religion is the greatest boon bestowed on us by God. It is the good Israelite’s comfort in time of distress, his guide in prosperity, and his only friend and consolation when all earthly friends have forsaken him. It teaches him, first, to bear with resignation the will of his Maker, and that through all the vicissitudes of this temporary life, whether in adversity or in prosperity, that he may always remember that he is the chosen one of God; that he must submit to His holy will with the fortitude that has always characterized our scattered people; and that although crushed and oppressed by the enemies of Judaism, he may be encouraged by knowing that his lot is above those who are of gentile origin, and who are believers in a God that cannot save. This knowledge creates within him a feeling of superiority that makes him proud of his origin and satisfied with his fate. It teaches him, secondly, that there is a great, invisible, almighty, and omnipotent God—a perfect unity—who created this world and all that is therein by his wisdom, to whom alone we owe adoration, and who requires no mediator between him and mankind. He is the only God to whom we have to look up for salvation. It teaches him, finally, that our ancestors, through their transgressions, have been scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth; but at a certain time, known to God only, he will send us a Messiah or Anointed from the seed of David, by whose agency we shall be reassembled from the four quarters of the globe, and restored to our country, where we shall serve God as in former times, and when the Lord shall be acknowledged as a unity by all the nations of the earth.

Being scattered among the nations of the earth, the Jewish youth is surrounded by innumerable snares, which may tend to weaken  his religious firmness, and, through his inexperience, make him deviate from the true path. On the one hand there are men leagued against us, who use all their efforts, by temptations or otherwise, to mislead inexperienced youth. On the other hand there are bad examples shown us by many of our own persuasion, who from ignorance publicly violate the law of God, and thus create a feeling of indifference within the hearts of the rising generation. Thus one step leads to another, in proportion as man is willing to embrace that which is the least difficult. From indifference, we are gradually led to neglect that which is religiously essential; and from neglect, we are finally induced to violate—at first privately, but afterwards publicly—the law of God, and ultimately we shall feel ashamed of the name of which every Israelite ought to be proud.

(To be continued.)