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The American Jewish Publication Society


Held its second annual meeting on Sunday the 31st of October, for the election of officers, and other business. The election having been proceeded with, the following gentlemen were declared duly elected to serve for the current year: Abraham Hart, President; David Samuels and Abm. S. Wolf, Vice-Presidents; J. L. Moss, Treasurer; Alfred T. Jones, Recording Secretary; Isaac Lesser, Corresponding Secretary; and Hyman Gratz, Elias P. Levy, Lazarus Arnold, David H. Solis, Moses A. Dropsie, and Herman Van Beil, Managers. The Treasurer reported that beside the balance from last year, there was received $273.88; making with the amount of $265.27, then in hand, $530.15; the whole of which has been expended during the year; as there is but a nominal balance, all of which will be exhausted when the works issued by the Society shall have been paid for. Nearly the whole of the money received has been expended in the works issued; and but a small portion has been laid out for printing the constitution, circulars, bills and notices; the translating of one number from the French, and a few incidental expenses; the whole less than fifty dollars from the organization of the Society till now. Thus proving, that the management has been conducted with a strict eye to economy, and the subscribers and members may rest assured than the same course will be pursued in future. At the above meeting the Publication Committee presented their second annual report, which we communicate herewith to our readers for their careful perusal and attention.

Second Report of the Publication Committee, to the Publication Society.

Your committee respectfully report, that since the last annual meeting they have published four numbers of the Miscellany, to wit: No. V. The Path of Israel, Part I., containing an abridgment of the Penta<<455>>teuch; No. VI., containing the Days of Old, Rachel Levy, and the Jews and their Religion; No. VII. containing The Perez Family; and No. VIII. containing Patriarchal Times, Part l.; and No. IX. containing a continuation* of the Patriarchal Times, will be ready in a few days, as the printing is finished, and nothing but the binding is wanted to send it forth. We have thus printed since the commencement of our labours, about 1050 pages of useful, pleasant, and instructive reading, which any parent can freely place in the hands of his children, without the least danger of tainting their minds with ideas inimical to our holy religion, and on the contrary with a certainty that much good may reasonably be expected to result from the perusal of the works in question.

* This number has been issued since the presentation of the above report.

It is certainly to be regretted, that hitherto the funds of the Society have not permitted us to print more than nine numbers; but if properly viewed, it will be acknowledged that we have, under all the difficulties of the case, furnished a large quantity for a small sum, and as much reading matter as can be procured anywhere for two dollars; so that the members have received back in books the full value of their contributions. It is readily admitted that had the number of contributors been larger, more books could easily have been issued; but with the amount of members not larger than it is, the committee have done all that was in their power. One consideration must not be lost sight of; though we furnished five numbers to the members of the first year, it must be recollected that one was printed after the expiration of that time, and two were printed before the organization of the society; and we have, therefore, done well in finishing five numbers within the past twelve months. Your committee would impress on your minds, that the publications are not merely reprints; but were thoroughly revised by us before giving them to the printer, so as to guard against any errors creeping in unawares. You will easily, therefore, understand that a considerable amount of literary labour had to be performed in the service of our association, which was, however, cheerfully borne. It would not have been alluded to in this report, were it not that some persons have found fault at the slowness with which the numbers of the Miscellany appear, as though it were in our power to obtain suitable works without much previous preparation.

There is money enough in the Treasurer’s hands to pay for all the expenses incurred hitherto, and there can be no doubt, that if  moderate exertions are made, the income for the ensuing year will exceed that of the past. There is some money yet outstanding in New York, New <<456>>Orleans, Georgia, Montreal, and St. Thomas, besides some few small amounts in other places, which when received will print more than one number of the Miscellany.

We would also respectfully impress on your minds, that the cause we have embarked in is a noble one; it is in fact to elevate the intellectual standard of our people. Some may think that the means at command are entirely inadequate; but all we have hitherto done is merely to make a commencement, and as such we have amply succeeded. The works we have issued, have all met with the approbation of the judicious; and are therefore to be regarded as a good foundation for a long series of publications, all having the same object, that of leaving only good and wholesome influences on the minds of the readers, be they youthful ones who just begin to think, or those advanced in years, who nevertheless require occasionally to be entertained and instructed. By degrees a library may thus accumulate, which will be the best means of inducting by easy degrees our children into a rational appreciation of their religion, and give them a knowledge of its tenets, whilst adults too may learn much that is new to them, and re-imbibe more yet which perchance they have forgotten. Only let us be strong and of good courage, stimulate each other to persevere, and not be dismayed at the smallness of the beginning, at the difficulty of the task, or even at the dissatisfaction of some who expect more than can be demanded of us at this early stage of our existence as a society.

We will not detain you any longer; but express, in conclusion, the hope that the Society of which we are members, may by degrees, become a bond of union among all American congregations, it being an institution in which all have an equal interest, and which, with the blessing of Heaven, will thus be the means of much good in this country, where we have, in the fullest sense of the word, the privilege and the opportunity of speaking and publishing our views on morals and religion. That we may be permitted to make proper use of this prerogative of Freemen and Israelites, is the sincere prayer of your Committee.

Isaac Leeser, Chairman.
A. Hart,
Solomon Solis.

Philadelphia, Heshvan 21st, October 31st, 1847.

It will be seen from the above that the Society, under all the difficulties of a first experiment, has already accomplished a great deal of good in comparison with the means at its disposal. It is truly to be regretted that not more energy and zeal have been displayed by the various congregations of Israelites through the <<457>>land, to furnish the means for a an extended usefulness. We are almost ashamed of our lukewarmness, when we compare the liberality of Christians with the opposite feelng displayed among ourselves. There are constantly recorded instances of wealthy men among our neighbours giving very large sums to Bible, Tract, and Mission Societies, for the diffusion of their religious tenets; whereas, we have not received any donation exceeding in amount ten dollars, from any quarter. Perhaps our Jewish friends may believe that there is no necessity for the publication of books fitted more particularly for the reading of our younger branches. If they think so they are greatly in error. We state it as an uncontrovertible fact, that hardly a single work, not even a spelling-book, a geography, books one would think the last which could contain erroneous doctrines, can be found, which does not more or less convey views inimical to Judaism; and it is also evident to the commonest mind, that character and principles are formed or greatly modified, to say the least, by the books which are read in early youth, especially in this age, when they are diffused so universally at a very cheap rate. The only remedy then we have, is to afford our people an opportunity of imbibing good and wholesome doctrines by the same channel with which they are made acquainted with error, that is, the means of cheap books. This can be done only by a concerted effort on the part of all who feel an interest in the propagation of truth; and who of us does not? By this means also we would call forth Jewish talent, to exert itself in the cause of literature and religion, seeing that there would be a public always ready to appreciate everything that is good; and in this manner, we are sure, we would not long have to complain of the dearth of good works by Israelites calculated to elevate their moral condition.

We say it now candidly, that without proper support, the Publication Society must stop, as the committee have no reserved fund to fall back upon in case of a failure of supplies from members and donors. Persons have expressed disappointment at not receiving a number of our Miscellany once a month. But how could this be effected without an exertion on the part of individual members both at home and abroad, to keep the treasury supplied with the means requisite to effect this desirable end? It all depends, therefore, upon the Israelites in general, to determine <<458>>whether the Society shall proceed hereafter, and how often the works are to appear. The committee are merely executive officers, and can only fulfil a trust reposed in them. Therefore the blame is not ascribable to them, but to the insufficiency of the aid which they have obtained hitherto, which cramped their efforts and limited the good they could accomplish to the amount given above in the report.

What say our friends? shall the Society live? or shall it follow in the wake of other attempts, such as the cheap Jewish Library of London, and fall into practical disuse? We trust that such a disgraceful termination will not be the lot of our Society. But it depends upon the will of the public. Still we trust that our appeal will be promptly responded to. Especially do we address our female friends, the wives and mothers and maidens in Israel, to do their part in urging forward our cause. They are so influential in all that is good, they are so charitable in giving the means to alleviate distress, that we are sure they will not let the mind suffer whilst they so readily minister to the bodily wants of the poor, especially as they thus would confer a benefit on themselves as well as on the needy. We await, therefore, a favourable verdict of all our friends, and hope that the ladies in particular will do all and more than we have asked of them, and enable the committee to present a more favourable report at the next annual meeting. In the mean time we purpose to continue our labours, in the full confidence that our hands will be strengthened as we proceed in our attempt to confer a lasting benefit on our fellow-Israelites.

At the Board meeting held on Sunday the 21st of November, being the second Sunday in Kislev, the members of the former Publication Committee were re-elected to serve for the current year.

We deem it our duty to state that our President will furnish to persons not able to pay, the works of the Society on application; and that managers of charitable institutions, both in Philadelphia and elsewhere, will also be supplied whenever they know of worthy persons to whom they can be given, so far as the constitution will permit this to be done. One tenth portion of all our works are for gratis distribution among the poor, and up to this amount, therefore, applications will be supplied.