|Volume VII. No. 10
Tebeth 5610 January 1850
Thanksgiving in Pennsylvania.—Our readers will recollect that last year several Israelites took justly exception to the wording of the proclamation of the Governor, recommending a day of public thanksgiving. We are happy, therefore, to chronicle the proclamation issued this year on the same subject. It will be seen that no class of the inhabitants of the commonwealth are excluded, but that all are invited to offer up their gratitude to the universal God, the giver of all good. In consequence, therefore, of the Governor’s recommendation, our Synagogue was opened for public worship on the 29th of November; and we were happy to find a large number of our Christian friends among the audience, who were attentive listeners to the exercises of the day, which consisted, as usual, of a selection of psalms and hymns, prayer for government and congregation, and a prayer and sermon composed for the occasion.
In the name and by the authority of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, by William F. Johnston, Governor of the said Commonwealth.
New York.—We learn from a paragraph in the Asmonean, that the Synagogues in New York were not opened on the day recommended by Governor Fish for thanksgiving, to wit, the 29th of November, in consequence of the very exceptionable manner in which he spoke of the “benefits of the Gospel,” of “the duty of a Christian people,” &c., as though there were no religion without the Gospel, and no gratitude without it proceeded from Christians. We certainly approve of the neglect of such a proclamation; but the Israelites of the state at large ought to have remonstrated with the Governor in energetic terms, and thus induced him not to forget the Israelites another year; and we state it merely as our opinion, that though a captious fault-finding and a constant nervousness to take offence should never be manifested by Israelites, as unbecoming and unmanly, at the same time no public insult, either of omission or commission, should be passed over in silence; for we ought to take good care of our rights, and never allow them to be tacitly violated. We hope that our readers will bear this in mind, and act up to the suggestion on all proper occasions.
New Orleans.—We learn with pleasure that the Rev. J. K. Gutheim has been elected Minister of the German congregation of New Orleans, <<526>>with a salary of $1500 per annum, though they offered in their advertisement but $1000. This shows how earnest the members are to secure the services of a valuable man; since they must have made great exertions to increase so largely the amount they thought themselves able to give. We also hear that Mr. G. has accepted the call; and we trust that he may become the means of spreading godliness among his new flock, and that they may have ample cause to rejoice in their connexion, which we trust may endure many happy years.
Curaçoa.—Our friendly correspondent, Mr. O. M. Da Costa, writes us as follows:—“I am happy to inform you that the school of Mr. De Casseres, or rather the Sunday school, is getting on famously, and doing a deal of good. The young ladies that joined as teachers are constant and indefatigable in their attendance and exertions, and well merit the good will of the nation. It would be well if, in all parts where we are spread, our young ladies would do as much for our poor children.—Mr. Nathan’s school is getting on as well as his fondest hopes could wish; he has as many scholars as he can attend to, and I don’t know if not more, as he is obliged to refuse some.” It is indeed pleasing to us to record such an evidence of progress in the island of Curaçoa, where hitherto but little had been done in the cause of education; and we trust that many blessed fruits may result from the efforts now made to spread a knowledge of religion. The Mr. Nathan. spoken of is a brother of the Rev. Moses N. Nathan, and we think was associated with him as teacher in Kingston, Jamaica; and we doubt not but that he is amply qualified to do justice to his charges. We wish him sincerely the amplest success.
The Hebra Bickur Cholim of Philadelphia held its annual election for officers on the 16th of December, and resulted as follows: H. M. Phillips, President; D. A. Phillips, Secretary; Marcus Cauffman, Treasurer; H. Weil, M. A. Van Collem, Hyman Polock, and Elias S. Linse, Kaubronim, and Abm. E. Israel, Messenger. During the past year, the relief and charity expenditures were about $300. The present number of members is about 64. This association is, we believe, the oldest charity among the Philadelphia Israelites. Its object is to assist the members in sickness, and pay the funeral expenses of members and of near relatives dying under their roof, to grant a fixed sum during the week of mourning, besides extending aid to widows and other near connexions of deceased members, in addition to mutual personal services, such as watching with the sick, washing the dead, attending prayers at the house of mourning, &c. It also grants relief to persons not members, under certain circumstances, especially to sick strangers. There <<527>>are, besides this, three other similar societies in this city, and they relieve a great amount of suffering, by returning to contributors their money, with ample interest, in times of sickness and sorrow, when but for such provision they might be compelled to call upon the charities of other men. We hope that in other large towns the Israelites will form similar institutions, and thus secure to those of moderate means an independent subsistence when they are unable to labour. With proper management, it will not be difficult to transform such beneficial societies into a species of life and health insurances, at the same time leaving them all the characteristics of a religious institution, חברה קדישא; only care ought to be taken to apportion the premium, or annual contribution, to the amount of benefits bestowed, so as to secure their prompt payment when they are required; whereas a small annual assessment may find the treasury empty when most needed. The reserved fund of the Bickur Cholim Society has accumulated for many years, and received a great accession from the voluntary relinquishment of members and families, entitled to it, of their amount of stated relief; otherwise it would be much smaller than it is. Although this liberality is to be commended, still it cannot be calculated on with certainty, and it is even doubted by many Whether each member should not be compelled to take what is coming to him, to place all on a perfect equality. We cannot say that we share this view; at the same time it merits consideration; and in forming such societies in the new and growing communities of Israelites in this country, it will be well to leave no avenue unguarded in carrying out a plan of operation, so as to prevent, so far as human foresight can effect it, any possibility of failure, and then let it be considered that a society where every man helps himself is the best charity.
Europe.—In Austria the heavy war tax laid on the Jews in Pesth and Buda is exacted with rigour; the reported clemency of the emperor in remitting it, has not been confirmed by subsequent accounts. At the same time, it is curious to observe how, notwithstanding the rigour in one part of the empire, the young head of the house of Hapsburg seems to carry out practically the equality among all the inhabitants, which was decreed in the constitution given last year. In Moravia and Bohemia the restriction on Jewish marriages has been greatly relaxed or nearly removed, and Dr. Wolfgang Wesseli has been appointed professor in Prague, and Dr. Goldmark, late a deputy in the Austrian Diet, to a chair in the university of Vienna. We have no doubt that, unless a new outbreak takes place, there will be a gradual amelioration of the situation of the Jews in that country, where formerly they were barely allowed to live. Of course the new machinery of state must <<528>>work stiffly at the outset, but this is to be expected.
—In Vienna a committee of the most respectable Israelites has been formed to draw up a new regulation for the Jewish community. But our accounts are entirely too meagre to present a condensed account of the whole state of Jewish affairs in Austria.
—In Rome the French troops lately entered the Ghetto, by order of the authorities, under the false accusation that the Jews had secreted church property obtained from the late republicans. Their silver vessels, unless marked with their names, and even their linen, were taken possession of. Now mark what follows: “The result of the search which was made so unjustly, and accompanied by such violent measures in the Ghetto of Rome, has proved the innocence of the Jews. A few pieces of cloth, which Garibaldi’s legions had taken from a monastery, and which they, previous to their sudden retreat, had forced the Jews to purchase, besides a few pieces of copper, which were kept in small shops, was the whole spoil for which the Ghetto was blockaded for three days, about 4000 men treated like thieves, and their domestic rights shamefully violated. Of gold and silver vessels, of church property and sacerdotal garments, &c., (alleged by some journals to have been found,) not a trace could be discovered.” How gloriously the French soldiers are employed in Italy, not alone to restore the Pope, but to reinstate something worse even than the ancient Inquisition! What a comment on their love of liberty!
—In France, too, the spirit of illiberality has shown itself in La Vendée, in the forcible expulsion, through the instrumentality of a Catholic bishop, of Mr. Isidore Cahen from the chair of philosophy, to which he had been appointed by government in September last. The people did at first hail with joy the accession to academical honours of this Israelite, who already, though young, enjoys a high reputation. But the bishop and clergy must have thought the church in danger, should a Jew expound the principles of philosophy in the Lycée Napoleon; they raised, therefore, a storm ecclesiastical, which none better than men of their stamp know how to direct, and the minister (of public instruction) had to revoke the appointment. Another commentary, this, on the text, ‘peace and good-will to man on earth.’
—A magnificent new Synagogue, costing 150,000 francs, has lately been finished in Mülhouse, in France. The sale of seats brought near 200,000, so that the directors have resolved to restore a part of the purchase-money to the buyers. This is a beautiful comment on the liberality of the Jews of that town. In Paris, also, we learn they are about to improve and rebuild the Synagogue, without meddling with reform measures, which some wished to carry as a prerequisite. This is true progress.