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Jewish Education


Mr. Editor:—It has long been a source of deep regret to many well-wishers of the Jewish religion,—who are convinced that an intimate acquaintance with the precepts and principles of their faith—always an imperative duty—is rendered, by reason of the growing intimacy between the Jewish people and people of other creeds, particularly requisite—that the very competent individuals who have engaged in the arduous undertaking <<36>>of conducting institutions for imparting instruction to Jewish children, as well of a religious as of a liberal and scientific character, should experience so little encouragement, that, were they not actuated by a pure and holy love for the religion they profess, they would have abandoned the attempt as hopeless. These few remarks by an Israelite, but one whose only interest in the subject arises from his entire conviction of the truth of his religion, and an ardent desire for its prosperity,—of which an enlightened education in its principles is a sure guarantee—it is believed will not be deemed improper. None will deny the importance of barricading the religious belief of our people, by affording them an accurate knowledge of the grounds of that belief; thus, as well fitting them to comprehend the dignity of their position as Israelites, as awakening in them a just pride at the honour of being such; contributing to their eternal happiness and welfare, and enabling them to withstand the tempter, so necessary in this land, where there is a continual mingling of persons of all creeds, and where, unhappily, strenuous efforts are unceasingly made to induce apostacy. Neither will there be found any to deny that the gentile schools are but ill adapted to the wants of our people: these are institutions, where, if any principles of religion are inculcated, they are entirely opposed to those which should be impressed upon the minds of a Jewish child. The claims of those of our people, who piously devote themselves to the laborious undertaking of teaching, are certainly superior to those who profess any other belief, when, as is the fact, they are as competent to instruct in other branches of learning as other teachers.

But the importance, spiritually, of a full knowledge of our religion, should decide to whom the care of the education of Hebrew children should be committed.

Parents are but trustees; and as such, they must expect to render an account of their trust to a pure Judge, who will search the secrets of the heart; and how can they justify themselves if they neglect to afford their children the advantages which are offered for instruction in “the way which leads to eternal life!” Great care and attention are bestowed upon the religious culture of their children by the gentiles;—and why should we do otherwise? We vie with them in affording excellent scientific education to those committed to our charge, but upon the most important subject of religious educa<<37>>tion a strange apathy appears to exist with us. Many Israelites are entirely uninformed concerning the principles of the religion they profess; and a large majority have but a very superficial knowledge of them; and were they asked the reason of their following the Jewish faith, they would be compelled to admit the humiliating fact,

“I cannot tell how the truth may be,
I say the truth, as ‘twas told to me.”

Abundant opportunities are now possessed to prevent this disgrace, and Heaven grant that they may be improved.


New York, March 14, 1849.