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Rev. Dr. Eckman and his Congregation


It is curious indeed to observe the ebb and flow of the popularity of public men. It is about fifteen years ago that the Rev. Mr. Poznanski was elected to his late position. His advent to Charleston was hailed by the strict conformists with more than the pleasure usually displayed at the choice of a new minister. The people had been long without a regular Hazan, and division as regards the mode of worship had long existed; and it was hoped that Mr. P. would not alone supply the vacant post, but also promote a thorough union of feeling among the Israelites of that city. Mr. P. was spoken of as he had shown himself during his residence of full five years in New York,—not alone orthodox in the theoretic sense of the word, but in practice likewise, and modest and conciliatory in his conduct. It is therefore not to be wondered at that those who adhere to the outward forms of religion should be delighted at having at their head a man whose meekness and piety, independent of his learning, promised them so many good results as the fruits of his ministry.

We also shared these sentiments; we were one of the first to welcome him on his arrival from Germany, and only regretted that the situation* which he has since occupied was then held by another, wherefore he had temporarily to fix his attention on other, though not uncongenial pursuits. Does any man believe that, if the orthodox portion of Charleston and those Israelites of New York and Philadelphia who shared their sentiments, and among these the Editor of this Magazine, had had the least idea that Mr. Poznanski was a reformer of the Salomon school, Mr. P. would ever have been elected to the various stations he was called on to fill? We unhesitatingly assert, Never; but he would assuredly have been left to propagate his peculiar reformistic notions without the adventitious support of public office; and it is highly probable that the world at large would not have known a great deal for or against the since famous Reverend <<210>> Gustavus Poznanski. But if one at that period (1831-36) was a strict man, it was Mr. P.; if any one was ultra-orthodox among the most orthodox, it was Mr. P.; if any one discountenanced innovations, it was Mr. P.; and, if anything, many blamed him for carrying his conformity to the extent of not partaking of a meal prepared for the public celebration of the anniversary of a charitable institution of the members of his congregation, soon after his election. No one could with justice find fault with such a strict course of life, were it not that it is in glaring contradiction with what has since been displayed; and hence the most charitably disposed must come to one of two conclusions:—either that Mr. P. at that period dissembled his real sentiments, or that at a subsequent one he assumed new doctrines, at variance with his first convictions.

* We presume that it will not be unbecoming in us to state that the office of Hazan for Charleston had been offered to us in the summer of 1831, but we felt constrained to decline from a sense of duty which prevented us from leaving Philadelphia if we could possibly stay here. In fact, we broke off the correspondence abruptly, although the terms offered were both highly flattering to a young man, as we then were, and more advantageous as regards emoluments than what we could expect here.

Some of our readers may perhaps recollect that, about twenty-eight years ago, a secession party was formed in Charleston, composed of about thirty respectable and intelligent gentlemen, some of whom we now umber among our personal friends, who, not satisfied with the ancient mode of worship, and perhaps aggrieved at some unwarranted proceedings of the board of trustees, separated from the Kahal Beth Elohim, and formed a body of their own, with an abridged form of prayers, composed for the most part of English, and but little Hebrew. They had some English hymns of their own composition, and introduced sundry other changes in the outward mode of worship. We are not sufficiently familiar with the whole affair (though we have heard a good deal about it from time to time) to speak of it with a perfect confidence of not making a misstatement, in the absence of written historical memoranda. The prayer-book, such as it is, is however still in existence, a small edition having been printed for the use of the members, though we are not just now in possession of the same. But we well recollect a correspondence which took place soon after our arrival in America (in ‘24), between the late Mr. Jacob Mordecai, then Parnass of Richmond, Virginia, and one or more members of the reform party. We thought then, inexperienced though we were, that Mr. M. had the best of the argument. We also recollect a flaming and well-written address by Mr. Isaac Harby, an intelligent and learned gentleman of fine literary taste (whose works, by the by, ought to be appreciated more than they are, and his errors be forgotten, as he is no longer among the active on the earth), which was intended to set forth the views of the association.

Nor have we forgotten that it was highly recommended in the North American Review at the time, as is <<211>> supposed, by a Unitarian clergyman of Charleston, a proceeding which was then thought highly censurable, as the reviewer no doubt intended by his remarks to foment yet farther the spirit of discord which had exhibited itself among the Israelites of that place. Mr. Mordecai wrote out his views on this subject also, and we were permitted to read the manuscript, as it was never published, there being then no means at hand for giving publicity to Jewish matters, except in independent publications; and these could not then be issued except at a great sacrifice, there being too few Israelites in America to support any work whatever, unless at an enormous price. Enough for our present purpose, however, to state that the society, after a brief existence, was soon dissolved, and some having died, and others moved away from the city, the greater portion were reunited to the old congregation, each having to pay a fine for his absence, according to the option of the trustees.

We are not prepared either to approve or to condemn the wisdom of this step, as a reconciliation without a penalty might perchance have wrought more beneficially on the mind of some than has been proved by experience since to have been the case. Several, however, kept aloof, and took no part in the congregational affairs, and we know not whether they ever attended worship.

This much is certain, that some of the old reformers did not look favourably upon Mr. Poznanski when he first arrived. They did not join the congregation; and some even treated him, if not with indignity, certainly not with the politeness due to a respectable stranger on his arrival in a place. Perhaps they regarded him as chosen by a party, in which case they might have justly thought that he had no claim upon them, and that they who had elected him might also practise towards him the rites of hospitality. It admits, however, of no question, that Mr. P.’s friends were those who were the strictest observers of religion, and his tacit opponents those who were not so wedded to ancient opinions and observances. So well did Mr. P. conceal his heterodox views, if he had any, that, though first elected for but two years, he was chosen for life when only twelve months or thereabout had elapsed after his arrival. Honourable as this public testimony was to his good conduct and efficiency, it also shows that he was viewed as, properly representing the opinions of the vast majority of his constituents. But scarcely two years after his arrival had elapsed, when the Synagogue was destroyed by fire, on the evening of the 27th of April, 1838, a fearful conflagration laying a large portion of Charleston in ashes. We of course cannot know what curious change had been going on in the <<212>> mind of Mr. P. since his election for life; but this much we can state with confidence as strictly true, that about the middle of ‘39, or perhaps in the autumn of that year, when the new Synagogue had commenced to replace the one destroyed, Mr. P. was walking in the environs of the city with the then Parnass, the late Nathan Hart, when Mr. P. hinted to him the propriety of erecting an organ in the new structure. Mr. Hart was naturally shocked at this proposed innovation, and begged Mr. P., for the love of peace, not to mention the subject in any shape.

For the moment nothing farther was heard of the plaything; but scarcely had another year come round, to wit, about July, ‘40, when the Editor of the Occident received no less than four  letters from residents of Charleston in as many successive days, all inquiring about the legality of the proposed musical instrument, which we were told had been sanctioned by the Hazan, but whose opinion was not acquiesced in by all the members. We wrote as many answers as were demanded, on the spot, without consulting with any of our learned friends; and though we have no copies of our letters, we recollect one passage in the one we wrote to Dr. De la Motta:—that the discord which would be introduced by the contemplated measure would be more destructive to the building and the congregation than the fire which had two years before laid the house in ruins. We do not profess to quote words exactly, written off at the spur of the moment eleven years ago; but we merely repeat the substance; and we regret that the event has so fearfully verified our prediction. The proposed meeting was held. The President protested against the question being decided by a simple majority, as it was a constitutional question, and required, we think, three-fourths to carry it; but he was overruled by a majority, and then it was decided to erect the organ, by a bare excess of votes,—46 to 40;—or, in other words, a majority resolved upon doing what the constitution had expressly declared such a majority should not do. It is true enough that we often find people overriding that very law which alone gives them power; and congregations, corporations, and states, often commit acts of violence without of necessity drawing the sword; still each especial wrong cannot be defended upon the plea that a greater or less, or equal, enormity has been or may be practised elsewhere.

When we learned that the minority had been so summarily ousted, as it was in fact, several of the ancient reformers having been just admitted to membership, and thus swelled the number of the lovers of change, and that the man whom we had till then looked upon as a <<213>> pillar of strict conformity—(we then knew nothing of his former conversation with Mr. Hart)—had, by his decision, swayed the opinion of several otherwise neutral, among whom we may mention the late President of the Congregation, Mr. Ottolengui, we advised Mr. Hart to take out an injunction against the organ, so as to test the question judicially; but he refused, as he was unwilling to bring Jewish matters before a court of justice. Soon after, Mr. Hart died; hence we cannot say whether he would have at length changed his objection, as it became more and more evident that the organ, illegal in itself, had been used merely as an entering wedge for yet farther changes. But, though the minority were not willing to sue for their rights, they would no longer keep. communion with the reformers, as they plainly showed themselves, and they formed a new society, under the name of “Shearith Israel,” the Remnant of Israel, and it exists to this day, as our readers are well aware.

We will not allude now to the lawsuit which afterwards sprung out of the question of the right of membership, when many of Mr. Poznanski’s adherents began gradually to leave him, as his views became more and more developed; for the early volumes of our magazine have spoken on that subject already. We would only state, however, that, having a public mission at Savannah during February, ‘41, we passed a few days at Charleston; and in conversation with Mr. Ottolengui, who, among others, had written to us in the summer for our opinion, we told him frankly that on no account could the step which had been taken, and which he had participated in, at least so far as to adhere to Mr. P., be justified; and he would live to see that other innovations would follow, in order to accommodate the service to the organ. Mr. O. indignantly repudiated this ides of ours, and said it was merely intended to give dignity to the worship that music was to be invoked; but he failed to remove our apprehension, and the event has again proved the justice of our predictions.

Soon after our return to Philadelphia the new Synagogue was consecrated, and then, for the first time, we had an intimation of Mr. Posnanski’s real sentiments on the subject of the principles of our religion, much as our favourable opinion of him had been shaken by his conduct towards Mr. Nathan Hart in the organ affair, and the conversation, or rather discussion we bad with him on the legality of his reforms, at the house of one of his supporters, and on learning that his former opponents had joined him, in the same measure as his ancient friends and admirers were gradually abandoning him and his ministry.

This <<214>> was an alleged extract of his consecration sermon, in the Charleston Courier, which was to this effect:—“This land is our Palestine, this city our Jerusalem, this house our temple,” by which he evidently denied the coming of the Messiah, and the restoration of the temple and ancient worship. On being asked to print the sermon, which excited some attention, he declined, as we understood then, that it would provoke controversy—a very prudent resolve, truly, after being, at least in part, the means of dividing his former congregation, and separating it into two sects, instead of one harmonious body. Besides, the fear of controversy shows more than usual timidity, as no Jewish journal was then existing, either in England or America; hence it would have been difficult in the extreme to find an organ through which the discussion, if entered into, could have been laid before the people.

But what Mr. P. dreaded so much came over him nevertheless: his restlessness under ancient restrictions caused him to offer a pretended translation of the Maimonidean creed, instead of the one usually found in the catechism and prayer-books, though he still chaunted the hymn Yigdal, which contains the same principles. We are not prepared to account for this inconsistency. Perhaps he wished first to find an entrance for his doctrines, which, if once admitted without objection, would afterwards easily supplant ancient Judaism. But in this he did not succeed. It is, by the by, wonderful that a committee of the Congregation should have requested a translation of our creed from the minister, as though they had a distrust of the correctness of the one found in the catechism, which was in use in their own Sunday-school. Perhaps they thought that the author of that work, from his known opposition to violent reforms, had substituted something for the true meaning of the words of Maimuni. If so, they were surely more prudent than wise, as they did not inform themselves whether their own revered and respected minister, as they all styled him, would not do the very thing—that is, substitute his own words for those of our great teacher. Thus time passed on; the new creed blazed out from the golden letters on a white tablet, till accidentally, as we learn, a gentleman well versed in religion read the new invention; and then, for the first time, revealed that it was not the true child of Maimonides, but a surreptitious foundling of unknown paternity.

Soon after this, Mr. P. spoke against the observance of the second holy-days; also the cycle for reading the law was changed from one to three years; besides which, other minor matters were gradually intro<<215>>duced, until at length the original adherents of the reform movement became restive under the constantly augmenting changes, and many resolved to reunite to them the seceders, so called, or, more correctly speaking, the orthodox party worshipping as the “Remnant of Israel,” in order to check farther encroachments. Our readers know that a long lawsuit was the result, which was decided in favour of the reformers, owing, as we think, to mismanagement on the part of the counsel of the defendants, who ought to have been the plaintiffs in the question of compelling the President to convene the Trustees, as the case was mainly decided upon the ground that the Board could not legally meet without the presence of the President. But we cannot now discuss this, as we have other things to speak of.

It was about that time, June, ‘43, that one of our correspondents in Charleston sent us a transcript of the creed of Mr. Poznanski, which is affixed to the walls of the Beth Elohim Synagogue, asking us whether it was a fair translation. Of course we repudiated such a creed, which puts everything in doubt, and asserts nothing positive, besides abrogating the resurrection. We at once wrote a public letter, (see Occident, Vol. I., No. 5, August, 1843,) to Mr. P., calling on him for a frank avowal of his sentiments; but our questions remained unanswered. We heard that the cry of persecuting Mr. Poznanski was raised against us, as though he had not the same means of coming before the people, with a simple admission or contradiction of his imputed heresy, as we had, as our magazine was placed fully at his service. It is ridiculous to sup­pose that we could have persecuted Mr. P., even if we had desired it; and to ask a public man like him to let Israelites at large know his true sentiments on religion, and he the minister elected to defend that faith, is surely no persecution, as a single answer, yes or no, would not have been beneath the dignity of the most exalted.

Perhaps Mr. P. dreaded again to get into controversy; if so, he acted very wisely to preserve a profound silence, since, when one says nothing, you cannot charge him with having said something. But, though he maintained this studious silence, he did, nevertheless, inculcate his unbelief in the main dogmas of Judaism in his congregation—at least he did not teach the opposite of what the construction of his creed evidently taught. One thing, however, he effected by this means—he disarmed the teachers of the opposite views from combating his principles, as we could not think of making warfare upon a man who is a moral coward, and who could at any time assert that he had been misunderstood and misrepresented. Besides this, his own adherents fol<<216>>lowed him so blindly, that to express a doubt of his correctness was to expose ourself to the anger of many; and his opponents were sufficiently convinced of his unsoundness; wherefore it would have been worse than useless, as matters stood, to make a martyr of him in the estimation of his followers, and thus confirm them the stronger in their advocacy of their leader.

We may, therefore be asked, why we break through our resolution now, when in times of previous excitement we dropped the discussion of an important case,—because, in continuing it, we should have been compelled to cite Mr. P. before the bar of public opinion; and this especially, as Mr. P. no longer holds a public station, and has retired to private life? We tell you at once, kind reader, it is to sustain the efforts of his successor, the Rev. Dr. Eckman, in the noble stand he has taken to counteract the pernicious influence which the incorrect doctrines, as they are propounded in the new creed, would ultimately exert on the rising generation; and, as it is supposed, not without much apparent reason, that Mr. P. is endeavouring to influence the congregation against Dr. E., it is but just to bring before the tribunal of the people the delinquencies of his predecessor.

We do not do this in the spirit of hostility; for, though we candidly confess that we are not, and have no cause to be satisfied with him, we never make our private griefs cause for our private or public acts towards others. But religion has a claim on all its followers, and we hold it as a good maxim, במקום שיש חילול השם אין חולקין כבוד לרב “There where the name of God is profaned, no respect is shown, even to a teacher;” and we are perfectly willing to have the same treatment extended to us, if ever we expose ourself to the same cause of censure. It is enough, therefore, that we believe that, to recall to mind the gradual lapsing of the late Hazan of Charleston into error, will uproot the influence he once wielded, in order to induce us to speak of the facts of the case, as we have learned them from various sources; and we shall take care not to state a single doubtful fact, or to set down aught in malice.

It is now rather more than a year past that the Reverend Doctor Raphall, in his Southern tour, was summoned to meet Mr. P. in controversy, owing to the imprudence of this gentleman to allude to the reform which had been introduced by him, in his address of welcome to the learned Doctor. We rather think that Mr. P. himself did not propose the discussion, but we have no doubt that he was quite anxious to take his part, when the proposition had been made by the minister of the Shearith Israel Congregation. The notes of this controversy, <<217>> which were sent to us by a friend, never reached us. But we have learnt in substance, that when Dr. R. put to Mr. P. the question whether he believed in the coming of the Messiah, he hesitated; but Dr. Wise,* who was, among many others, also present, he being then in Charleston as a candidate for the office which Mr. P. was ready to vacate in favour of a man of his own mode of proceeding, answered loudly “No,” and Mr. P. then assented to the same idea, but rather in a more subdued tone of voice. The next question, “Do you believe in the Resurrection?” was answered again by Dr. Wise with a loud “No,” and Mr. Poznanski again assented in a subdued voice.

* Dr. Wise denies having answered “No” to the question relative to the Messiah. Perhaps he was under strong excitement at the moment, and may not recollect all that took place. Several of those present have assured us that Dr. W. did answer as stated above.

The heresy, therefore, of Mr. P., formerly enveloped in mystery, though perfectly well understood by many, was now publicly revealed; and in candour he ought to have told the people, who so long had followed his lead, that the prayer-book ought to be cast aside, as asking for matters which are not true, nor likely to become true. But he did not do this, but continued to pray for the Messiah, the Revival of the Dead, and also assented to all the thirteen articles of the usual creed in chaunting every Friday evening at least the hymn Yigdal.

There was thus a contradiction between Mr. P.’s professed doctrines and the prayers which he read for the people as Hazan, which, as an honest man, he ought to have avoided, either by avowing a disbelief in doctrines held sacred by other Israelites, or at once establishing a new sect, with whatever followers he might be able to muster. But neither he nor Dr. Wise pursued this course. Perhaps they had, or have got a method of their own to explain our creed. Perhaps with them ביאת המשיח the coming of the Messiah is an ideal kingdom of God on earth, not by the elevation of the worship, but by a spread of a universal assent in the main theoretical principles of religion; and תחית המתים is a simple belief in the immortality of the soul, though the first doctrine ought then to be called קבלת מלכות שמים “The acceptance of the kingdom of Heaven,” and the second השארת הנפש “The permanence of the soul.” But, as these terms have not been employed by our teachers, when they were perfectly familiar with them on other occasions, we think that there can be no doubt of the unreasonableness of so explaining it, as Messrs. Poznanski and Wise have done, in accordance with other neologists of the present day.

Dr. Wise, for reasons probably of his own, resigned the office of minister of the Beth Elohim Congregation, after he had been elected, and remained at Albany with his former flock. It was then that Rev. Dr. Eckman, who had been for a few months settled at Richmond, went South, as we understand, in order to see whether he could not take office at Savannah, which place has been and is still unsupplied. On his way he stopped at Charleston, and was induced to accept the ministry, and Mr. Poznanski himself said that Dr. E. was the very man for them. But the very first day of his arrival he had a discussion with Mr. P., which at once brought them into an antagonistical position, as Mr. P.’s views were such that Dr. E. could not coincide with them, and the coldness thence resulting became apparent to the President, Mr. Ottolengui. But there is no occasion to bring any purely privates matter into this discussion, as there is enough of a public nature to satisfy even idle curiosity. It is sufficient for our purpose to state that Dr. E., before his election, took full pains to let no doubt rest on his principles, that he disapproved of many of the innovations, and altogether of the new theories broached by Mr. P. and his adherents.

Notwithstanding this general knowledge,* Dr. E. was chosen on a probationary term of two years. He soon found that to do his duty manfully, he had to do battle without fear, and regard­less of consequences. Mr. P., though no longer in office, was still powerful with many, perhaps the majority of the Congregation, and hence every step taken by Dr. E. was an aggressive assault on the man of power and consummate tact.

* Some of Dr. E.’s friends have said that we must have been cognizant of all these facts when we wrote our strictures on Dr. E.’s accepting office, in the May No. of this year. But this is not so; we simply knew that the Doctor succeeded Mr. P., and, as we thoroughly disapproved of his course, we thought no one justifiable in following in his footsteps.

Towards an absolute reform party Mr. P. has doubtless acted very faithfully. He has progressed by slow but sure steps. The gradual weakening of the attachment to our creed at length enabled him to avow openly his disbelief in doctrines, which, to do before, would have utterly ruined him with his own party, who regarded it as a false imputation and persecution in us even to hint that such a thing was probable, nay, possible even. But towards true Judaism, as expounded by the fathers, Mr. P. has acted like a parricide. He took away the ground on which it stood, and, so far as he was concerned, our venerable parent might have been crushed under the weight which would have <<219>> overwhelmed her. Hence Dr. E. only did his duty in withstanding him to his face, in refusing to let him read the prayers on the Day of Atonement, for the reason stated by our correspondent, since it would be wrong to permit a man to officiate for the people who did not admit the truth of what he says. We know not whether Mr. P. acknowledges the facts as stated by Dr. E.; but, even if he does not, it is merely a  question of veracity between the two gentlemen, and then we should have to decide according to probability.

Here is, on one side, a person perfectly independent in his circumstances; he has, on more than one occasion, falsified his former course; he may have been disappointed in the character of the man whom he desired to be his successor. On the other hand, is a stranger to the city and country, who has to earn his bread by his profession, to which he has devoted many years of his life. His interest would lead him to seek the counsel and support of his predecessor, who is both powerful and beloved by his flock. Still we find Dr. E. defying him, and throwing himself upon the good sense of those on whose votes his future continuance in the ministry depends. Whom now shall we believe? Let our readers answer—we need not put the words in their mouth.

But the natural result of the difference between the old and new ministers soon became apparent, in a strong partisan feeling enkindled on both sides. And, strange as it may seem, the adherents of Mr. Poznanski, not willing to await the expiration of one more year, when, if they have the majority, they can vote Dr. Eckman regularly and legally out of office, send a petition to the Board of Trustees, consisting of seven individuals, to urge these to call on Dr. E. to resign, after he has scarcely served out half his term of two years. This petition is signed by eighteen members. A counter-petition, signed by nineteen, calling themselves congregators and members of the Congregation Beth Elohim, request Dr. E. not to notice the petition of his opponents, and to maintain his post. We have before us both papers, and would, had we not been requested otherwise, lay them before our readers, as matters for future history. But as it is, we can merely glance at their contents. The petitioners aver that Dr. E. could not have been elected Hazan, (which, by the by, he claims not to be, but the ordained minis­ter,) of the Congregation, had his views on the reform, as it exists, been known to the majority; and, as the majority must rule in all things, and he not representing their peculiar reform principles, they request the Trustees to notify him that he ought to retire, out of self‑respect, as he is placed in opposition to so many of his congregation, <<220>> which renders him an obstacle to their peace and harmony. The others applaud his piety, integrity, zeal, and learning, and desire, therefore, his perseverance in the faithful discharge of his clerical duties.

To extract more from the papers in question would be to copy them entire, and this we are asked not to do. But it will strike any one that those who have themselves so far departed from the ancient standard, have no right to expect a conformity to their newly esta­blished principles. First let us ask, what are these? In what code are they written?—or are they a sort of common law, lex non scripta, which requires a Mansfield, a Blackstone, or a Marshall to expound? It is true, a programme of the reform was published in the Occident on several occasions, by which the new incumbent might. have been made to take a test oath before entering on his nondescript duties of preaching Judaism with some of its main features omitted. But why did these same gentlemen not demand Mr. Poznanski’s resignation years ago, when he deceived them as regards his orthodoxy another way? We will not say that all were perfectly familiar with Dr. E.’s ideas; but that is their fault, as it was that of Mr. P.’s first electors, that they did not subject him to a rigid examination. The omission to do so gave both incumbents a great latitude of motion for or against reform—and mind, the word reform is one of very ambiguous signification; and, however we condemn Mr. P.’s course, and that of other ministers who have done as he has, we blame still more the people, for acting with so little circumspection as to put power in the hands of men whom they do not know thoroughly, or to leave them in the exercise of it without a contest, the moment they find themselves deceived.

It will not do for our friends of the reform side to say that their being the deceived, though even this is denied, makes a difference in the question. We say “No;” they could not expect that they ever could find a man who would honestly carry out their views of the creed, and employ the prayer-book in the assumed sense they give it. Besides, if they claim perfect liberty of action, they must allow it to their minister; if they choose to repudiate our ancient forms and opinions, he has the same right to reject theirs; and it is at length with them a question for the majority—not as with orthodox Jews, what our authorities say on the subject.

Take it therefore, as they will, they have no right first to impose a test, or else they must at once establish a confession of faith and a rule of church government of their own, which, if the future ministers deviate from, they are to be deposed; or at least they should have the grace to <<221>> wait till the time of election comes round, when they can, if they have the majority, turn out Dr. E., and elect a man after their own heart, and thus decide the question as suits their own views. Upon the whole, therefore, Dr. E. did right in not resigning; and we trust that he may be strengthened to persevere in his reform of the right kind, to bring people back to a true standard of religion, and that his opponents may become reconciled to his ministry.

In saying this, we wish not to be understood as taking back the least of our objections against the reform of the Beth Elohim Synagogue. We condemn it, as we always have done; but of the two we prefer positive Judaism at least, though it appears in a somewhat fantastic dress, to views which no one who fully believes in Scripture without mental reservation can in any wise sanction. We beg Mr. Poznanski and his friends to read our candid thoughts, as expressed above, without heat or prejudice, with the calm deliberation which all articles on the holy theme of religion merit, and to pause in a course which, sooner or later, will cause them deep and lasting regret. We, for our part, have discharged a simple duty, as journalist and Israelite, to give the above imperfect sketch, which, though it treats of men, is of a public nature, as these men represent vital principles, which are of lasting interest to all who profess the religion of Moses.—We must close for the present.