|Vol. VII, No. 5
Ab 5609, August 1849
Congregation B’ne Jeshurun.
Presentation Of A Silver Pitcher And Salver To Abraham Mitchell Esq., Late President Of This Congregation. New York, June 25th, 5609.
This event took place on Sunday, the 17th inst., at the Elm Street Synagogue chambers, in the presence of the members of this congregation, by whom the precious token was presented. It was indeed an interesting spectacle to see a whole congregation assembled to express, spontaneously, their unbounded gratitude to the venerable ex-President. Nor can I suffer this opportunity to pass without adding, that never was gratitude more appropriately or more meritoriously bestowed than on the present occasion. For nearly twenty years has Mr. Mitchell been a member of the Board of Trustees. During many terms did he occupy the chair, and act as Parnass, and invariably did he execute the wishes of the majority of his constituents. He was always to be found on the side of justice and peace. In short, on the most critical occasions his << 282>>good qualities, for which he is so distinguished, never for once forsook him, and made him act with purity and integrity. And well was he rewarded. He has now seen and felt that his services were appreciated, that his constituents were not unmindful of his labours, and that he has gained the universal approbation for which he strove. Now for the particulars.
When the meeting was organized, Mark Levy, Esq., chairman of the committee, submitted the following report:
“Gentlemen,—The committee appointed by you, and over whom I had the honour of presiding, beg most respectfully to report, that they have procured this pitcher and salver, to be presented, this day, to Abraham Mitchell, Esq., our late Parnass, in the spirit in which it vas originally intended. Your committee think it due to themselves, as also to you, to state that the delay has been occasioned by circumstances over which they had no control, many of the committee being at times absent in Europe, and a minority not wishing to act. The committee, in making this report, think they would be wanting in respect, did they not acquaint you that they added to your committee Mr. Bennet King, and that, through his energy and untiring zeal, they have been enabled to accomplish that which you so much desired.”
(Signed) MARK LEVY, Chairman.
A. S. VAN PRAAG,
A committee was then appointed to introduce Mr. Mitchell to the meeting. Mr. M. shortly afterwards appeared, and was greeted with cheers and applause. The chairman then addressed, him in the following manner:—
MR. ABRAHAM MITCHELL:
Sir,—I feel proud of the position it has pleased those gentlemen of the committee to confer, in appointing me the means of conveying their sentiments to you.
I do it, sir, cheerfully; though, I must say, with a great mistrust as to my ability to do you or them justice, so as to convey the just appreciation of your worth and integrity, in your public and private life, that they entertain towards you.
Sir, those gentlemen entertain a deep reverence and respect both for your religious and private, as well as your public character, and have met this day to testify to you that they have not forgotten the great good you have achieved; not alone for Bnai Jeshurun, but also for the example you have set to other congregations, in being liberal and tolerant, giving to all men that congregate and form themselves as a body to worship the divine Creator, that which every one so congregating and contributing has an imperative right to have, a voice in the distribution of such moneys.
Sir, this was your doctrine; you were convinced of its justice and the highest court of the State sustained you.
I advert to this subject as a matter due to you, and to impress upon the members who have been more recently admitted, that to your co-operation and firmness they are largely indebted for the equality of privileges now enjoyed by them in this congregation.
At the same time, let it be remembered that the law was not appealed to until all your endeavours for a friendly adjustment of the question had proved unavailing.
The olive-branch you tendered was rejected, and they justified the measures in defence of our corporate rights, which you and your associates felt bound to adopt.
Sir, the gentlemen who dissented from our views did so from pure principles—from a conviction that the views they held were correct.
Sir, I do not advert to this matter with any feelings but of respect for those gentlemen who seceded from us, and built themselves a house to worship the great God of Israel; good has come from what, at the time, I thought would be an evil. I trust it will prosper, for the sake of His holy name.
Sir, we are highly sensible of the many laborious and arduous duties you have performed, both spiritual and temporal, with credit to yourself, with profit and honour to this congregation. Your duties have been severe, but you have the satisfaction that they have been crowned with success.
You have presided over this congregation—the first, and, I feel proud to say, the largest, worshipping after the form of the Polish and German Ritual, in the United States.
Sir, I take great pleasure in presenting this silver pitcher and salver; these gentlemen take this mode of showing you their approval of your conduct. May you be spared to your respected family many years; may Heaven watch over you in this world, and may the recollection of this day prove a solace to your family and friends when the God of Israel shall take you to himself.
At the conclusion of this address Mr. Mitchell made the following reply:—
It is with feelings of gratitude that I now reply to your kind remarks, accompanied with the present you have thought proper to confer on me.
Your allusion to my past services for the benefit of our congregation, and the satisfaction with which you have regarded them, is cheering to my heart and grateful to my feelings. Believe me when I assure you my object has ever been to promote peace and happiness amongst my fellow congregators.
When I look back a few years, and turn to the hour when we first founded our congregation, few in numbers as we then were, and now cast a glance at the rapid rise and present prosperity with which we are blessed, it is sufficient to awaken feelings of happiness and thankfulness to our heavenly Father, the “Author of all good.”
Your kind wishes and beautiful present are duly appreciated. I trust it may continue to be my lot to live to witness the prosperity and welfare of our congregation; my prayers shall ever be offered up to the Throne of Grace for a continuance of the same.
Words cannot express my feelings on this happy occasion, which will ever be remembered with gratification and pleasure.
In conclusion, permit me, gentlemen, to add my best wishes that you may be spared to behold the continued success of our congregation, with health and happiness to yourselves and those dear to you.
Both the address of the chairman and the reply of Mr. M. called forth universal applause.
I cannot conclude without paying a tribute of respect to the worthy chairman, Mark Levy, Esq. His manner was eloquent and dignified throughout the whole proceedings.
Hoping to be able to give you many such pleasant tidings, I am, reverend sir,
Your most obedient servant,