|Vol. VII, No. 4
Tamuz 5609, July 1849
Our readers must excuse us for devoting a brief space in our magazine to the record of ancient friendship which has subsisted between a venerated relation and another equally venerable Israelite, both having gone down to the tomb in the fullness of years and honour. It is full sixty years ago, when a strange, young Israelite arrived, on the eve of [Yom] Kippur, at the then small city of Baltimore. It was but to gratify a passing fancy that he had embarked for the distant shore of America; and hence came without any letter of introduction to friends in this country, which otherwise would have been given him from many respectable quarters. Thus unacquainted, he traversed the streets of Baltimore on the morning of the Day of Atonement, in search of Israelites, to celebrate with them the holy season of our faith. He was attracted by the mercantile sign of Isaac & Levi Solomon. He entered their domicile, announced himself as a brother Israelite, who longed to spend the day with them in due solemnity and devotion; and these worthy men, and their estimable relatives, gladly allowed the stranger to stay with them, to pray to the Throne of Grace in the society of his brothers in belief and hope, and to break with them the bread of friendship after the solemn day had closed.
It was thus that a long and lasting friendship sprung up between the late Zalma Rehine, our own maternal uncle, and the Messrs. Solomon,—together with their nephews and nieces, the Etting family, so long and favourably known both in Maryland and Pennsylvania. One by one have these worthy sons and daughters of Israel dropped into the silent grave, most of them at an advanced age which but few are permitted to reach; and they have left a name and memory to be long revered.
Mr. Rehine departed this life, as an infant falls asleep on its mother’s bosom, at the age of eighty-six years and five months, on the night between and second and third of July, <<227>>5603 (1843); and he was followed, first by Mr. Solomon Etting, and then Miss Hetty Etting, as we already announced at the time of their decease. The only surviving brother, Mr. Reuben Etting, was summoned hence at the age of eighty-six, on Sabbath morning, the 3d of June, 5608 (1848). He had filled the office of United States Marshal for Maryland, beginning with the year 1801, under President Jefferson, who appointed this sterling Israelite at a time when the Jews were excluded by the law of the state from all official promotion,—the President thus emphatically giving his testimony against the proscriptive policy then prevailing in that state, and proving that he desired only to break down the barriers of bigotry and intolerance; the appointment was, therefore, honourable alike to him who bestowed, as to him who received it. Mr. Etting, also, was the first captain of a volunteer company, the Baltimore Independent Blues, we believe, from June, 1798, when the country was threatened with a war against the French Republic, till 1803, when he resigned the command, in consequence of the duties of his office conflicting with the attention to his military engagements. An address highly complimentary to him was sent by the members of the company on his retirement; and only a few years ago, whilst Mr. E. was a resident of our city, the company came hither to pay an official visit of respect to their former commander, though an entire new generation had sprung up since their connexion had ceased. Upon the decease of Mr. E., complimentary resolutions of condolence were passed by the same body; and it is owing to the omission of a relative of the deceased, by not furnishing us with a copy thereon, which we waited for according to promise, that hitherto we have not duly noticed the departure of Mr. Etting.
But a new and sudden bereavement which the family have met with, gives us the melancholy opportunity to do an act of justice to departed worth, in consonance with a friendship which has subsisted between our families for a period of sixty years. We allude to the death of Gratz Etting, Esq., a son of the preceding, which occurred on Sabbath morning, the Eve of Shebuoth, the 26th of May last. Mr. E. was in his 54th year, and had devoted himself early to the study of the law, and was at one time district attorney for Centre County in this state, when an afflictive disease darkened the bright prospects which his friends had just cause to anticipate for him. He was a sincere friend, and a dutiful and attached member of his family; and though often suffering himself, he was not thereby prevented him thinking on the ills which befell others; and well do we recollect how he inquired daily after the health of one sorely diseased, though himself at the time the martyr of a tormenting malady. His religious <<228>>convictions were sincere, though unostentatious, and he took an active interest in the affairs of the congregation; and it was only a few days before he was called away from the earth and its trials, that he was present at and participated actively in a meeting of our Kahal. We knew not of his illness, till his death was announced to us by a near relative of the deceased, or else we would have been anxious to be present at the melancholy closing scene; but he was happy in being surrounded by those who were dear and near to him, and they will have long cause to reflect on the unpretending virtues of him they so dearly loved. May they be comforted, and may his portion be with those who have obeyed the will of their Father in heaven.