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Dr. Wise and his Congregation


No one can imagine with what unwillingness we give to the subjoined. But, where the matter in dispute concerns the vital doctrines of our faith, the press has but one course of duty to pursue, to give those who think themselves aggrieved by the erroneous teaching of their ministers a fair opportunity of appealing to the judgment of the <<256>>public, in the hope of inducing the accused to review, and thereby to change their, perhaps, hastily adopted opinions. We trust that, in the resent instance, our yielding to the demand of the President of the Beth-el Congregation of Albany, of making public, what at the same time we heard several months ago, may induce our learned correspondent to look into the matter more deeply, and to endeavour to trace the glorious doctrines of the coming of the Messiah and the resurrection of the dead to the sacred source whence he has drawn the ideas concerning the goodness of God and the immortality of the human soul, which we lay before our readers in the present number.

To our mind, nothing is more clearly pointed out in Scripture than the promise of the resurrection of Israel, and the awakening of the dead, yea, in their bodies to everlasting life. Dr. Wise, in an unfortunate moment, in the ardour, perhaps, of a new position as a candidate for the ministry of a congregation, some members and the minister of which were supposed unwilling to receive our creed as it stood and yet stands, was hurried away to answer “No” to a question put to the minister referred to by a learned divine who maintained the side of the correct faith.

Would there be any disgrace in Dr. Wise acknowledging in calmer moments that he was mistaken? and that the Bible supports the ancient hope of Israel? To our view this course would be one of honour and glory; as it would be merely the overcoming, a little, the pride of opinion for the sake of truth, and all lovers of peace would welcome him among them as an able champion of pure Judaism.—We have always maintained, and reiterate it upon the present occasion, that the broaching of new doctrines can only lead to disunion and estrangement of feelings; and we earnestly wish our reformers could be made conscious of the fact.

Experience has proved, that wherever this kind of reform has exhibited itself, there has arisen strife, there has sprung up dissatisfaction with the preacher, there has shown itself war between the people. And what is gained by it? Nothing, literally and unqualifiedly nothing, and we appeal to the congregation at Charleston for a confirmation of our words, nay, to the gentleman himself, who was so handsomely treated on his quitting office.

There are, by the by, some remarks in his address which seem to refer to our own unworthy self, for the share of the persecution which he had to endure at our hands; but we have had so much to forgive lately of a graver kind, than merely a misapprehension, that we can well let this pass at present without farther note. But the very position in which Dr. Wise has been placed, by lending his assent to the erroneous doctrines which we noticed in the letter to Mr. Poznanski, in No. 5 of our first volume, proves that we were right, and <<257>>not acting in the spirit of persecution.—In concluding these hasty remarks, written just before making up our magazine for this month, we would state that we place the Occident entirely at the service of Dr. Wise, to offer any comment, explanation, or rejoinder to the present communication, and we should rejoice to see him come out of the fire of trial purified and restored without taint or thought of blame to the position in public confidence, which his talents so well enable him to occupy.

We assure him in sincerity, that whatever spirit of persecution or personal animosity others may indulge in, we have none of it, and that we would gladly suppress all from appearing in the Occident, if this could mend the matter; but as the Asmonean has already given it publicity, our silence would be ridiculous affectation. Ed. Oc.

To the Editor of the Occident.

Sir:—Differences which have arisen in the Congregation Beth-El, in this city, and which threaten to affect alike the character and well-being of that congregation, make it my duty to publish through the medium of your work, the subjoined document, and to ask all Jews, ministers, as well as competent laymen, throughout these United States. whether a man who denies two fundamental articles of the Jewish faith is a fit and proper person to hold the office of Rabbi and preacher in a Jewish Congregation?

I am, sir, yours respectfully,
Louis Spanier
President of the Congregation Beth-El.
Albany, July 22, 5610.

We, the undersigned, at the request of Mr. L. Spanier, do herewith certify that we were present at a public controversy held in this city between the Rev. Dr. Raphall and the Rev. Mr. Poznanski, and that at the said controversy, the Rev. Dr. Raphall propounded there two questions to the meeting: the first was:—

“Do you believe in the coming of the Messiah?”

To which question the Rev. Dr. Wise, of Albany, who was present, answered foremostly in a loud and distinct voice,


The second question was,

“Do you believe in the resurrection of the dead?”

The Rev. Dr. Wise was again heard by us to say in a loud and distinct voice,


Given under our hands and the seal of the Congregation Sheayreet Israel, this day, the eighth day of July, 5610.

[Signed]          Samuel Hart, Sen.,
President of the Congregation Sheayreet Israel.

Jacob Rosenfeld,
Minister of the Congregation Sheayreet Israel.

S. Valentine,
Secretary and Treasurer.

Sworn to and signed by,
the Rev. J. Rosenfeld, Mr. Samuel Hart, Sen., and Mr. S. Valentine, in the presence of  L. J. Moses,
Notary Public, and Q. U., Ex. Off.