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The Jews of England,

Considered In Their Social And Religious State, By One Of Themselves

The Jews of England, it is well known, since their first introduction into this country, although wealthy and industrious, have never been a literary people. Engrossed by the pursuits of commerce, they have paid no attention to the immense importance of national education or national religion, amongst rich as well as poor. In reply to this, it may be urged that free schools are provided for the poor, and hospitals for the destitute, and an asylum for the orphans, while the middle and higher classes either send their children to schools, or have teachers at home  for them. All this is perfectly true; money is spent, schools are provided, and yet what is done by them? Nothing, absolutely  nothing. And why? Energy, heart, mind are wanting; without them money is nearly useless. It is not, however, of the public part of national education that I intend to speak in this paper, but the system of home education, so destructive in its results to the Jewish religion, at present pursued. Hebrew women, mothers of families, advertise for governesses to instruct their daughters, and impart the first principles of education to their sons. The governesses are required to teach the greatest number of accomplishments in the smallest quantity of time, and at the cheapest possible rate. German sometimes, French and music always, are considered requisites of a modern education; and on these points the mother is most anxious that the teacher should excel; but of the moral attributes, the character and disposition of the person to whose charge she confides her children, beyond generalities, she seldom cares or thinks much. This is a grave charge; but nevertheless long experience confirms me in its truth. In nineteen cases out of twenty, Christian teachers are engaged to instruct Jewish children, because they are to be obtained at a cheaper rate; and besides, it is  more fashionable. It does happen sometimes, although not always, that the Hebrew mother forbids the Christian governess to speak about Christianity to her pupils. Yet, if she has any religious feeling at all, can she avoid doing this? The more conscientious she is, the more anxious she will be about what she considers the eternal salvation of her young charges. But if she be a worldly woman, then must the children be left without religious instruction at all, or what little she gives them will be coloured with the tenets of Christianity; for they cannot take up a book of instruction, or even one of recreation, without finding in it some allusion to its doctrines. What Christian mother would suffer a Jewess to impart religious instruction to her child? Why, then, should Hebrews be more blind, or more sinfully careless, in permitting their children to imbibe with their first lessons doctrines wholly hostile to Judaism? And what is done to counteract these early influences? Are children taught in their youth why they go through certain prescribed forms and ceremonies? why they keep fasts and feasts, and rites and ceremonies different from their Christian associates? No; neither at the Synagogue nor in their own homes do they learn this. They appear to them troublesome, and to the ridicule of people who hold another faith they are sensitive, because they can give no reason for what hat they do; and finally they throw off the observances altogether. Neither Jews nor Christians, they go through life doubting and wretched. Napoleon asked Madame Campan what he should do for the women of France, and she answered, Educate for us a race of mothers. Men of Israel! we too want a race of Hebrew mothers. It is not sufficient that your wives and daughters be amiable and accomplished in a worldly point of view; but the immortal soul must also be provided for. Who like a mother can lead a child to love God and all his wondrous works, and to thank our heavenly Father for all his care? How many are cut off in their youth; the blossom is as often destroyed as the ripe fruit. What happiness then to know that we have done our duty by the deposit placed in our hands. Mothers! think of this. I have frequently heard Jewish ladies complain that it is difficult to obtain good Jewish teachers for their children. The reason is obvious; parents know how few families care about engaging Hebrew teachers. Those who expect their children to gain their own livelihood cannot afford to bestow large sums of money, that their children may acquire rare accomplishments, which, after years of toil, will not procure them a greater remuneration than a good cook can easily obtain. Let it become known, however, that Jewish families wish to engage Jewish teachers, and a supply will be readily found to meet the demand. So much for home education; in my next article, I propose to treat of the public education of the English Jews.