|Vol. VII, No. 5
Ab 5609, August 1849
To the Editor of the Occident
Allow me to express, through your periodical, my fraternal feelings towards all those worthy congregations who have displayed their warm sympathy for the common cause of Israel by the active measures which they have recently taken to effect a union of Israel in North America. Allow me, also, to offer a brother’s hand to all those pious labourers in the Lord’s vineyard who have exercised their influence upon others, to realize the proposed unity. “May the Lord bless you from Zion, he who hath made heaven and earth;” and may every one that has laid hand on this great work enjoy this blessing of our sacred psalmist. You have honoured our God and our sacred faith, as well as yourselves, in thus showing your good will and your pious intentions towards our common cause. I entertain not the least doubt as to your firmness and constancy; but the matter is of too holy a nature, of too much importance to me, that I can omit to call again on you, חכי כמעט רגע, “delay yet a moment!” The storm will roll over, the dark clouds will be dispersed, and our horizon will be once more clear and pure; for, “let the grass dry up, let the flower wither,” but the word of our God will stand for ever; and since we struggle for the cause of the Lord—since we have unfurled the mighty banner with the significant <<269>>convention form a nucleus, and be thus a good commencement for an entire union of all the congregations, which would fall in by degrees? I honestly think so; and though this first convention could not bring about anything to supply our wants, the corner stone, the basis, would be laid, the way to accomplish the good would be prepared—a constitution for such a union might be furnished—a plan of operation might be drawn up—the confidence, and consequently the co-operation of the rest of the people might be procured, and the resources to accomplish this laudable end might be pointed out.
I do now ask you, brethren, are you right in not co-operating, with us? Is it not either absolutely wrong, or betraying levity and want of due consideration to oppose us? All that our opponents have to state against the convention is, that they entertain an unmanly fear that it might be composed of men less pious than they are—or, according to Mr. A’s letter, of those less learned than he is; and then the Synagogue—no, not the Synagogue, but the prayers—no, not the prayers, but the form of them—no, not the, form, but the order—no, not the order, but the time of praying, might be changed, though none of the advocates of this plan thought of so trifling a matter; and for this you will let the good remain undone?—for this sake you will not aid to bring union in the house of Israel, to secure and maintain our sacred faith?—for this you will rather have nothing of all that we so greatly need? Let me tell you, brethren, all your forms, ceremonies, customs, minhagim, together with your long prayers and harsh words, are, in comparison with the above-named institutions, which the convention ought to promote, as nothing, and less than nothing—not worth the while to speak of them.
Now, therefore, consider and reflect! Let the native not think himself any better than the foreigner, and the foreigner not be less interested in the matter than the native! Let the orthodox not think himself too much exalted above the modern reformer, and the reformer not be too wise and enlightened for the orthodox brother! Pay no regard to the difference of minhagim—of nativity or language; for one law combines all of us into one great body, all over the earth. Let us have our God and our faith before our eyes, and act as men and Israelites, with resolution and decision.
Looking over the reverend Editor’s statements about the elected delegates, I find that not only some of the most respectable congregations have cast their votes, but that they also elected highly respected men, and therefore I have great confidence in the speedy realization of our union; many congregations will soon follow, I trust, and we may yet <<270>>meet in some way ere this summer has passed away. I think it would be very proper if our friends would now commence to publish their plans and views about what can, and how it shall, be done; it would save a large portion of the time of the meeting; and other members could read them beforehand, and reflect on them, so that, when the meeting takes place, every member will already be prepared to vote understandingly upon the measures proposed; so the proceedings will be quickened, and the debates be to the point and short. I shall try, myself; to publish, in the next Occident, some of my views.
ISAAC M. WISE, D. D.,
Albany, Sivan, 5609, A. M. Rabbi of Albany.