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The Hundredth Anniversary of the Portuguese Synagogue at Kingston, Jamaica


We have received a pamphlet containing the order of service used on the celebration of the hundredth anniversary of the erection of the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue at Kingston, Jamaica, on the 1st of September last; and as such an occurrence must be of general interest to all our readers, we give a somewhat abridged account of the proceedings from the Kingston Daily Advertiser of Sept. 2d.—Ed. Oc.

Yesterday being the hundredth anniversary of the erection of the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue in this city, an extraordinary service, in commemoration of the event, took place. Before ten o’clock—<<363>>the hour appointed for the commencement of the service—the spacious building was densely crowded with the members of the congregation, the members of the other Jewish Synagogue in this city, who were specially invited, and a large number of Christian gentlemen.

The service was conducted by the Rev. Mr. Lopez, minister of the congregation, and the Rev. Solomon Jacobs, minister of the English and German congregation. The form of prayer, made especially for the occasion, was of a most imposing character. It commenced with the ordinary morning service, which was read by the minister, assisted by the choir, who were accompanied by Mr. Casseres on the seraphine.

An invocation in English was then offered up by the Rev. Mr. Jacobs.

The Ark was opened, and ten Scrolls of the Law being taken out, they were carried in the following order by the ministers, and some of the officers of the two congregations:—1st, by the Rev. Isaac Lopez; 2d, by the Rev. Solomon Jacobs; 3d, by Mr. Emanuel Lyons; 4th, by Mr. Aaron De Cordova; 5th, by Mr. Daniel Jacobs; 6th, by Mr. David J. Alberga; 7th, by Mr. David Alexander; 8th, by Mr. David R. Da Costa; 9th, by Mr. M. M. Sollas; 10th, by Mr. Louis Lewis.

A solemn procession, in this order, went twice round the Synagogue, headed by the ministers, the choir chanting “Blessed be he who cometh in the name of the Lord; we bless you from the house of the Lord,” &c.

The ministers, and five of the scroll-bearers, then returned to the reading-desk, when the Rev. Mr. Jacobs and the choir chanted the following


None is like unto thee among the gods, O Lord! nothing is like unto thy deeds! Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom: kingdom dominion endureth throughout all generations. The Lord reigneth; the Lord hath reigned; the Lord shall reign for ever and ever. The Lord will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace.

The Rev. Mr. Lopez and the other scroll-bearers, excepting the Rev. Mr. Jacobs, then performed six circuits around the Synagogue, the Rev. Mr. Jacobs and the choir chanting appropriate psalms.

The whole of the scroll-bearers being on the reading-desk, the Rev. Mr. Jacobs read, in Hebrew, the ordinary prayer for the Queen and royal family. Also, a prayer for Sir Charles Grey, the council, and assembly of the island. The Scrolls were then returned to the Ark, the choir chanting the 29th Psalm.

An invocation, in Hebrew, was read by the Rev. Mr. Lopez.

The choir having chanted the “Ane Kay-lohaynoo,” the Rev. Mr. Jacobs ascended the pulpit before the Ark, and preached an excellent discourse in English, which occupied an hour and a half in its delivery. The reverend gentleman selected the following text from Deuteronomy, 29th chapter, 10, 11, 12, and 13 verses.

Ye stand this day all of you before the Lord, your God; your captains of your tribes, your elders, and your officers, with all the men of Israel. Your little ones, your wives, and the stranger that is in thy camp—from the hewer of thy wood unto the drawer of thy water.

That thou shouldst enter into covenant with the Lord thy God, and into his oath which the Lord thy God maketh with thee this day:

That He may establish thee to-day for a people unto himself, and that he may be unto thee a God, as he hath said unto thee, and as he hath sworn unto thy fathers—to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.

He divided his discourse into three parts—the first showing the importance of the day; the second defining the duties to be performed to constitute a real anniversary of so important an event; and the third demonstrating the existence of a nation to depend upon the upholding efficiently places of public worship. Although the object of their assembling that day might be told in a few words, he, nevertheless, dilated on the first establishment of the holy edifice by those who sought protection on a British soil from the persecutions of Spain and Portugal. He took a brief sketch of the history of the Jews, and alluded to the persecutions to which they had been subject—showing how much more proud and grateful they should be to Almighty God in being permitted, not alone to see this anniversary, but to have a Synagogue in which to worship Him according to the forms of their forefathers. He alluded to the time of the establishing of the building; to the feelings which must have actuated its founders; and to the propriety of those feelings being emulated by his hearers. In dealing with the second part of his discourse he made a stirring appeal to the elders and guardians of both congregations, and pictured forcibly the duties which devolved upon them individually, as well as in their public capacities, dilating at length on the value and force of example. The last part of his discourse consisted in a great measure in pointing out the duty of supporting cheerfully their institutions, which were essential to the upholding and fostering of their congregations, and their existence as a separate and chosen people. The discourse was attentively listened to by the largest assembly, perhaps, that has ever met within the same building.

The choir then chanted Psalm cl., also the “Adon Olam,” after <<365>>which the following invocation in Hebrew was offered by the Rev. Mr, Lopez:—


Omnipotent God! Thou whose throne is in the heavens and whose foot-stool is on the earth, who can be compared unto Thee? who among the most mighty can be likened unto Thee? who can relate thy glory and thine excellence? Thou, alone, hast wrought wondrous deeds for thy people.

Thou art even that mighty God who didst bring forth our fathers from bondage, and didst give unto them thy divine laws and precepts, commanding them to build unto Thee a house in which Thou wouldst deign to shed thy glory. Yea Thou didst assure them that Thou wouldst be with them, and hearken to their supplications whenever they would appear before Thee with a perfect heart and a willing soul. But as they did speedily turn away from the path of righteousness, Thou didst expel them from their land, and didst scatter them over the four corners of the earth, as a testimony to the world of thine awful power and wrath. Nevertheless hast Thou not entirely forsaken us, nor withheld from us thy manifold mercies, even in the midst of strangers; for, as Thou didst assure us by the mouth of thy servant, Thou wouldst not cast us off, nor totally desert us, so hast Thou fulfilled thy promise—yea, Thou, our benign Father, hast granted us grace and favour in the sight of those nations under whose rule we abide, and caused them to permit us to worship Thee after the manner of our fathers. And in this far and distant isle, the children of thy covenant now unite in thy holy sanctuary, to pray for a continuance of thy divine favour and protection.

On this day, therefore, the hundredth anniversary of the erection of this building, which our ancestors raised to thy glory, we Almighty God! Are fully reminded of all the mercies which thou hast shown to thy people, from the day whereon this holy house was consecrated to thy service unto the present time; therefore have we united, with one heart and with one accord, to beseech thee, our God, to be with us as Thou wast of yore with our fathers; to incline our hearts towards Thee; that we may walk in thy ways; and to cause the light of thy countenance to shine down upon us. Grant, O Almighty Father! that this house may remain a monument to thy glory until the scattered of Israel shall be gathered together in the promised land, where they may again worship Thee in the temple of Zion, even as they did in the days of their ancestors. Amen.

The service was concluded at two o’clock. The building was handsomely decorated, and the arrangements reflected the highest credit on the gentlemen who conducted them.