|Volume VII. No. 11
Shebat 5610 February 1850
The Congregation House of Israel of Philadelphia, who, as we learn from the Asmonean, lately made an appeal to the Israelites of New York for aid to redeem their new Synagogue building from pecuniary embarrassment, gave a ball on the evening of December 26, to collect funds for the same purpose. We have not heard how large the sum realized was; but, to judge from the smallness of the company and the great expenses always attending public festivities of the kind, we should not think that the surplus could have been large. We hesitate not in saying that we consider such a means of aiding a Synagogue quite objectionable, although we approve of it for purely charitable purposes, and its projectors might have known that the result would be a disappointment. We are at the same time happy to state, that several persons belonging to another congregation have resolved to advance the money requisite to release the building from the danger which lately threatened it of being sold at public auction, and the congregation will thus be enabled to extinguish the debt gradually in the course of a very few years. We would with pleasure mention the names of the public-spirited gentlemen engaged in getting up the loan, if we did not think that they would, for the present at least, prefer the silent consciousness of having done a good and religious act. Whilst upon the subject, and as our editorial career does not often give us an opportunity of speaking on it, we think it requisite to caution all congregations against the great impropriety of Synagogue building without the requisite means. It is not right to erect a fine structure, and then depend upon a good providence to provide the means of payment; as our wise men teach us אין סומכים על הנס “We must not depend on miracles.” Better, far better would it be to worship in a simple room, no matter how plain, till means are gradually accumulated, than plunge into debt without any reasonable prospect of extrication. It is true, the worshippers at the Synagogue in question had the promise from the architect that he would get the funds advanced; but he could not keep his promise, and <<573>>hence the sore trial they had to encounter. It is the first time, to our recollection, that a Jewish place of worship was under legal seizure in this country; and we put it, therefore, on record, to let it act as a warning against rising communities to guard against the recurrence of it in future. We love to see “beautiful dwellings of Israel’s God;” but we prefer that no stain of impropriety and the charge of asking undue favours should be brought against any who bear the name of Jew, hence we say what we have done. Still we would have kept silence had the application for relief not been trumpeted forth in the daily papers of our city, and the Jewish weekly organ of the New York Israelites.
Dr. Raphall.—The Elm Street Congregation of New York have done themselves lasting honour in electing the Rev. Dr. Morris Jacob Raphall as preacher, and superintendent of the school they mean to establish. He is not charged with any simply ministerial duties, as the congregation have a Hazan and a reader of the Sepher independently of Dr. R. His election is for life; and whilst capable of discharging his duties, his salary is fixed at $2000 per annum, and in case of disability, he is to have a retiring pension of from $500 to $1000. This is the first time in America that such a liberal endowment has been made for a religious teacher solely, and, we repeat, it redounds to the honour of the people as much as it is an evidence of the superior merit of the learned divine, who so immediately upon his arrival in this country found a highly numerous body of Israelites capable of appreciating his talents and anxious to secure the benefits of his instruction for themselves and their children. We hope that it will be our privilege to record more such testimony of appreciation of religious teachers before long in other parts of the country; and we may also state at once that at no time since the discovery and the settlement of America were there so many able ministers of our blessed religion in it; and we confidently trust that they will be able, with the blessing of God, to plant Judaism here on a permanent basis, and to be made the instruments in making this land indeed the refuge of the pious Israelite, whither he may flee from all the places where he is oppressed.
Dr. Raphall’s Lectures on Hebrew Poetry.—For several weeks past we have had Dr. R. as a visitor in Philadelphia. After he had finished his course of six lectures on the poetry of the Bible, in New York, he resolved to travel through the southern portion of the Union previous to his entering on the permanent discharge of his duties as minister of the Elm Street congregation. He had preached in the Portuguese, Wooster Street, and Pearl Street Synagogues, besides his own, and was then invited to deliver a lecture for the benefit of a chari<<574>>table society in Baltimore on the evening of the 27th of December, after which he preached on the following Sabbath in the Lloyd Street Synagogue. The week following he returned to our city, where many had expressed a desire to hear him both preach and lecture. In consequence of which he delivered a sermon in our Synagogue on Sabbath Shemoth, on the mission of Moses. And it is not necessary to say that the impression he produced was the most profound on an audience composed of persons of all the four congregations of our city, together with many Christians who had come in consequence of a public notice of Dr. R.’s intention to speak. We have before expressed our opinion on his manner and matter, and therefore need not repeat it now. Suffice it that he fully responded to the standard which public expectation had set up. He has since then preached in the Synagogue House of Israel to a large congregation, composed as was his first audience. His second sermon was on Exod. ix. 27, and he was especially happy in his application, which produced a marked and visible effect upon all present. On Wednesday evening the 9th of January, Dr. R. gave his first lecture on the Poetry of the Hebrews, in the Hall of the University of Pennsylvania, which had been kindly placed at his service, gratuitously, by the trustees of the institution, as no charge is ever made for the use of the hall, and can only be obtained as above. Though his first audience was not so large as it ought to have been, it was composed of men of the highest intellectual endowment of various Christian denominations, independently of the large number of Israelites present. The theme was the character of Hebrew Poets and their inspired productions; and an analysis of the remains of the earliest poetry as found in the hook of Genesis; and touched lastly on Job; and though he spoke for near an hour and a half, and this entirely from memory, without any note before him, he never tired his hearers, and kept their attention fixed to the last. His second lecture, on the evening of the 12th, was much better attended. The subject was the book of Job, the character and nature of which he very clearly elucidated. He claims for this most ancient of all poems to be a perfect drama, and though we do not agree with him in this point, since upon the same reasoning the book of Exodus might also be called one, still he showed enough that there is a great deal of the dramatic, melodramatic character rather, in the book of Job. He averred also that Moses was not the author of it, since its style is different from the Pentateuch and the xc. Psalm, the acknowledged productions of Moses, and it contains besides 76 roots not found in any other part of the Bible. The third lecture, on the evening of the 16th, was on the poetry of Moses proper, the song at the Red Sea, the final song and blessing of Moses at the conclusion of Deuteronomy, and the 90th <<575>>Psalm, and Dr. R. stated that Moses was not alone the legislator, but became likewise the prototype of all subsequent poets and orators of his people, no less than he has been often imitated by those of modern nations. He concluded with the triumphal song of Deborah. Whilst writing this, the above was all yet delivered by Dr. R., the nature of our magazine being so that we cannot wait for the completion of the course, on the 27th of this month, to notice the whole series. It is possible that we may have to say something on the subject hereafter; though we are not sure that we shall, as several congregations will have an opportunity of listening themselves to his eloquent exposition of the force and beauty of the Psalmists and Seers of our race, since at Baltimore already he has been invited to speak; is expected, as we see by the papers, at Charleston, and will pass through Savannah, Mobile, New Orleans, and Cincinnati, before returning to New York for the Passover holydays. Both Jews and Christians vie in showing him attention in our city, and no stranger was ever received with more kind hospitality, and we are sure that the same will await him wherever he goes.
Young Men’s Hebrew Benevolent Association of N. Y.—This praiseworthy society, organized last January, numbers now two hundred members. They contribute two dollars per annum, and the object is to give fuel to the poor during winter. We are requested to state that donations and subscriptions will be thankfully received by the secretary, H. B. Herts, Jr. of 86 John Street, New York.
Cincinnati.—The seventh anniversary dinner of the Gentlemen’s Hebrew Benevolent Society of Cincinnati took place on Sunday, 16th December, at the hall of the Lodge Street Synagogue,—Mr. Jacob Seasongood, President; Rev. J. K. Gutheim, Vice-President, presiding, supported by Mr. L. Arnold, Treasurer, and Mr. Henry Mack, Secretary. After the cloth was removed, grace was said by Rev. J. K. Gutheim, preceded by a psalm by Rev. Mr. Henry, both of which honours were sold for the benefit of the Society, and presented respectively. The President announced, that in consequence of the awful visitation of the cholera during the past year, the reserve fund of the Society had been materially encroached on, and appealed, not without success, to the audience, not to let the Society be compelled to lessen its exertions the coming year. The regular toasts were as follows:— 1. Our anniversary. We hail its arrival with joy. May our poor brethren revert to it with gratitude, and look forward with hope for its return. 2. The United States. Amidst the crash of empires, down<<576>>fall of dynasties, and usurpations of tyrants, her policy of universal religious toleration is an example, a lesson, a blessing, and a warning. 3. The city of Cincinnati, emporium of the West. May she long continue to enjoy the prosperity she deserves. 4. The Holy Land. From a distance of time and space, as the cradle of religion and civilization. 5. Education. Train up a child in the way it should go, and when it gets old it will not depart therefrom. 6. The Ladies’ Hebrew Benevolent Societies, our co-operators in deeds of benevolence. We hail them as worthy coadjutors, and pray for their prosperity. 7. Charity. As the rosebud expands under the genial influence of the sun’s rays, so does the human heart expand under the heavenly influence of charity. 8. The fair sex. Ever present in our days of trouble, let us not forget them in our moments of rejoicing.—After the 7th toast was responded to by Rev. J. K. Gutheim in his masterly manner, the contributions were taken up, and with a very favourable result. The utmost hilarity prevailed during the whole evening. Mr. Nathan Maltzer presented the Society with a splendid specimen of Hebrew chirography, executed with a pen by a son of Rev. H. A. Henry. The offering was made with a view of being raffled off for the benefit of the Society, and will no doubt increase the funds to the amount of one hundred and fifty dollars. Although the gift was highly and justly appreciated by the audience, still their applause was not equal to the deserved praise bestowed on the youthful artist for his masterly production. The company dispersed at about half past 11 P. M., after a most happy reunion.
The United Ladies’ Sewing Society, at their regular annual meeting, elected as officers—Mrs. Elias Mayer, Directress; Mrs. Phineas Moses, Second Directress; Mrs. Abraham Moss, Treasurer ; Mrs. Adolph A. Mayer, Secretary.
It was resolved that the Society hold a tea-party and soiree for the benefit of its treasury, which has become much exhausted by the unusual demands during the past epidemic.
Rev. James K. Gutheim.—This gentleman has at last yielded to again enter the ministry, and has accepted a call, from the German Congregation at New Orleans, La. The Crescent City has robbed the Queen of the West of one of the brightest jewels in her diadem. The Jewish population of Cincinnati had thought that Mr. G. had renounced holy orders, or they would not have relinquished him so easily. He carries with him the good wishes of a host of friends, the affections of many, and not a feeling of enmity from any one. How could it be otherwise, where urbanity, moral rectitude, and a just, gentlemanly, and benevolent deportment meet with their due reward? L. A.