|Vol. VII, No. 2
Iyar 5609, May 1849
The Proposed Convention.—Up to writing this, we have received positive replies with respect to the election of delegates from but two congregations.. The congregation Mikve Israel, at their meeting on the 1st of April, appointed the Parnass and Adjunta, Messrs. A. Hart, Mayer Arnold, J. A. Phillips, I. J. Phillips, and A. S. Wolf, as their delegation. The congregation of Mobile have appointed Col. D. Salomon and Mr. Joseph Morrison, and in case Col. S. should not be able to attend, Mr. Israel I. Jones is constituted his substitute. The congregation Bnai Jeshurun, of Cincinnati, were to elect their delegates on Passover last, but we have not yet received the particulars. We <<106>>yet hope that other bodies may come up to the good work in due time, to enable us to call the meeting for the 11th of June, as first announced; but as it is, we fear that it will have to be postponed to a later date. In the mean time, we earnestly request a speedy notification of what has been done from the various communities all over the land; at all events let us not drop the matter; but keep agitating it, so as to secure a permanent union hereafter. The reform congregation at Charleston decline uniting with the Israelites in the proposed assembly; we regret this refusal greatly. We were in hopes that the manner in which the project has been broached could have enabled all American Jewish congregations to meet for a friendly discussion of their common interests, since we saw no reasonable ground to suppose that any one congregation was so far separated from the others as to have no community of feelings with them; but we were deceived, and this because extreme parties fancy they discover danger to their separate views when these are brought in contact with others. We still cannot dismiss the expectation that things will come round, after a while, all right, so soon as the question is properly understood; for the present we thank all those congregations who have promptly responded to the call, and we request them to keep up the organization of the body of delegates as far as perfected. They will hear from us in due time.
P. S. The German congregation of New Orleans have elected Mr. Joseph Turner as their delegate.
The Consecration of the Synagogue Beth Israel of Philadelphia.—Agreeably to announcement, the Synagogue of the Beth Israel congregation of our city was consecrated with the usual forms, on the afternoon of Thursday the 29th of March. For the first time in more than nineteen years we were present at a public ceremony as a mere spectator; but the courtesy of the congregation granted us nothing but a card of admission, of which we made due use by being present. The Rev. Mr. Isaacs, of New York, had been invited to deliver the consecration sermon, and he acquitted himself with his usual ability, and to the general satisfaction of the large audience, composed as it was of all denominations. The building itself, of which we then saw the interior for the first time, struck us as really beautiful, and we cannot deny to the designers and promoters thereof the most unqualified praise for their zeal and perseverance in thus erecting a worthy house of prayer. The breadth is somewhat too contracted for its length, but herein they had to accommodate themselves to the size of the lot, which is we think, about, thirty-five feet. The ornaments for the capitals of the columns supporting the gallery, and those of the היכל, are of white and gold, and are in good taste. The centre dome, <<107>>through which the light is admitted to the body of the Synagogue, and the windows back and above the ark, are of coloured glass of various hues, which give quite a pleasing effect. The gallery, as usual, is on three sides, terminating opposite the ark on the north and south. The perpetual light is suspended in front of the ark; but there is another one within the wall in a niche, on the northwest portion of the main building, but under the gallery, an arrangement which struck us as singular, but which we are told is also found in several Synagogues in Poland, among others, if we heard aright, at Kalisch.
As we were merely a spectator, we had ample opportunity to make our observations; and we regret to be compelled to add, that the committee of arrangements were too busy in the discharge of their duties, which greatly marred the solemnity of the occasion. The music too might have been better, had there been more time for preparation; but the whole period consumed, from laying the foundation to the opening of the house for public worship, cannot have exceeded six months, wherefore all was done which could be expected. A collection was taken up likewise, but we have not learned its result. The Rev. Mr. Pape, the minister of the congregation, officiated alone, in conjunction with Mr. Isaacs, and we saw no other of the local ministers taking part in the service, an omission on the part of the managers which deserves at least some censure, as on all other similar occasions the proper courtesy was uniformly extended to the officers of the congregation, wherefore they had no tangible excuse to offer for their discourtesy.
We notice this merely as a public journalist, in the hope that similar breaches of brotherly love and politeness may not occur elsewhere. It is time that all separation and exclusiveness were banished from among us, and we shall deem our labours not uselessly thrown away, if we succeed in aiding to eradicate all petty jealousies from our midst.—We would with pleasure give a description of the building, which is situated on the east side of Crown Street, between Race and Vine; but we have not been furnished with the particulars, and we are not architect enough to do so from our own resources. Should the opportunity however offer, we may give the particulars hereafter; but we will mention here that the chandelier and gas fixtures in general are beautiful and highly appropriate, and in excellent harmony with the whole house.—The architect is the well-known designer of Girard College, Thomas U. Walter, Esq., and in saying this we give an assurance that the work deserves all praise. We heard something said about the style being Hebrew; but unfortunately for our reputation, there are no accessible remains of our ancient buildings, wherefore our style must be more in <<108>>imagination than reality.—Mr. Isaacs stayed in town over Sabbath (Haggadole), and delivered an excellent sermon in the new Synagogue on the occasion to a numerous assembly, many persons going there, we among the rest, after the conclusion of the service in our own Synagogue, and all were amply repaid for their attendance. Mr. I. enforced the necessity of revelation, and illustrated it happily in the connexion of our religious history with the Passover, basing it upon the saying of Moses, “And we cannot know with what we must serve the Lord until we reach thither,” (Exod., 10:26.) Our space will not permit us to enlarge; so the above must suffice for the present.
England.—We learn from a reliable authority that Sir Moses and Lady Montefiore contemplate visiting Palestine, in company of Colonel Gawler, with the object of introducing industrial occupations in the land of our fathers. It is well know that for centuries agriculture and handicrafts have not been pursued by our oppressed people in their ancient patrimony; and the gallant Colonel has for some years past endeavoured to awaken attention to the propriety of colonizing Palestine with new Jewish emigrants, and we take blame to ourself for not having noticed the pamphlet on the subject, which he had the kindness to send us; but our space and time will not always allow us to do what we wish. Sir Moses and his lady are sufficiently known to our readers to require any praise; hence we hope that the union of the upright Jew and the kind-hearted Christian in this enterprise of mercy may meet with deserved success. Things cannot be worse than they are in Palestine; the few Israelites there depend on alms, and this in a land which formerly supported its millions. It would be really a deed of charity to raise funds all over the world, to enable the inhabitants of the Holy Land to become farmers and mechanics; and we offer our pages to any discussion which would induce donations to be sent in the direction indicated, and thus prevent in future the sending of messengers to gather temporary alms and evanescent relief, of which but a small portion reaches the poor, whilst the largest share is swallowed up in commission for collecting and the support of the learned, men as idle as the other recipients of relief. Mr. Franklin has in hand one hundred and thirteen pounds, invested in consuls, once collected for the hospital and industrial schools at Jerusalem, which were never established; and he now offers, of course with the consent of the donors, to convert the fund for the use of the present enterprise, a proposition which all must approve of. In the mean time, we wish the travellers a speedy and safe return home, after the happy accomplishment of their mission.