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Beth Elohim Congregation of Charleston, South Carolina.

To the Editor of the Occident

My Dear Sir,—

I am charged by you in your last Occident with inconsistency. For myself, I am regardless of such an accusation, being fully <<142>>satisfied with the purity and rectitude of my intentions; and my position, at present, with the Congregation Beth Elohim of Charleston, among whom I have the honour to teach, would render it improper and undignified to enter into a full exposi­tion of my principles, so long after my election.

I must therefore respectfully request, that you will suspend your opinion in relation to my course, until the period shall arrive, when it may become necessary, that I should appear before my brethren under my own name, in defence of Truth, Justice, and the Holy Word of God.

Sincerity and candour are certainly virtues which we greatly admire; but we should be careful how we pass sentence before we are fully possessed of facts and circumstances connected with the subject upon which we are about to decide.

For your satisfaction, however, I would state, that my views were fully and plainly expressed to those members of the Congregation who presented themselves for that purpose, previous to my election, and, nevertheless, I was elected, contrary to my expectations, by an almost unanimous vote, I believe only one individual having voted in the negative, and he has since become one of my warmest friends and supporters. While I gave my humble acquiescence to the requisitions of the circular of the Congregation Beth Elohim of Charleston, as admissible according to the letter of strict Judaism, I have never hesitated, on all occasions, after the earliest period of my arrival, to oppose anything that encroached upon the principles of ancient Judaism, or that might have the tendency to wound the feelings of the pious and conscientious Israelite, whose sincere attachments and affections claim our highest respect and attention.

That the Almighty God, blessed be He, may enable His humble servant, under the most trying circumstances, to effect some little good among his people, is his most fervent and ardent prayer.

Yours, respectfully,

Julius Eckman

Note by the Editor.—It is indeed painful in the extreme, for one like us to be called upon to insert communications as in the last num<<143>>ber of our Magazine, wherein the merits of opposite opinions are discussed, and upon which we are in a measure called upon to pass an opinion; for to say nothing, when grave measures of principle are at stake, would at once show that we are unworthy to occupy the editorial supervision of a Jewish periodical, the business of which is to speak out boldly on all matters affecting Judaism. We were called upon to print a piece deprecatory of some remarks about Mr. Poznanski which we had inserted, and which had appeared solely because Mr. P. stood as the representative of certain ideas, against which we have always protested, and against which we have preached and written for a number of years. We did, therefore, no injustice to that gentleman to let an intelligent correspondent, who is himself a liberal orthodox writer, disturb Mr. P. in his retirement, especially since we are assured that he has still a strong party devoted to him and his principles. At the same time another friend forwarded to us a communication on the course of Mr. P.’s successor in office, a gentleman highly praised for his learning and zeal, and the powerful and disinterested efforts he is making to bring his flock back to a proper mode of thinking on religious matters.

We are perfectly willing to let the Occident speak in behalf of such laudable efforts, and we wish with all our heart that they may be successful to the fullest extent. But can any one expect that we should not, at the same time, protest against the propriety of any gentleman’s taking office when he is brought forward as the defender of opinions which we must condemn? Can it be asked of us, that we should by our silence endorse a course of proceeding which we would never have adopted? We leave it to Dr. Eckman himself, and our valued friends, who find fault with our notice of last month, whether we could have acted otherwise. We know full well that Dr. E.’s position is a painful one in the extreme; to stand as the mediator between two opinions, and endeavour honestly to reconcile them, is a task which the greatest minds may fail under; we admire his courage to defy so powerful an op­ponent as Mr. Poznanski, who both from his connexions and talents, is an opponent of no mean order; but all this does not reach our first objection, which is, that Dr. Eckman should have hesitated before he assumed a post so full of danger and difficulties. We should deeply regret that our remarks should have thrown in his way the smallest ob­stacle, or done the least to diminish his usefulness. But if so, it was entirely unavoidable; we belong to no school of reformers, we know of no one now living in Europe, whose footsteps we could safely follow; and let our teachers in this country place themselves on the <<144>> platform of Scripture and tradition, and they may depend on our support, little as this is just now, and nothing that we can effect shall be  left undone to assist them in their labours.

We are perfectly aware that Dr. E. cannot of his own accord remove the organ or restore religion in Charleston; and that all he can do in his present position is to bring matters in train for a future restoration to the ancient standard. But we only ask of him, that he should declare against all that has been done, openly and unequivocally; let there be no reservation of mind, nothing be left for any doubt, and then can we speak as approvingly as our personal friends do now of the Reverend Doctor. Let us again repeat, that we attack no man’s motives; but surely we have an undoubted right to say that those men of Israel who feel a deep interest in the maintenance of a uniformity of religion, have a claim on all who profess to teach, to speak without disguise, and to labour without fear, without regarding whom their words may indict. Let us beware of that most dangerous enemy to truth, flattery; let our teachers also guard against self-deception, and let the people see that they support those most who show the most consistency; and all will be well. We have, for our part, no wrongs to revenge against any of our public men in the country, and what we say of them is the simple expression of our honest conviction. We know well enough that this does not bring us many friends; but it at least proves that we speak what we believe the truth.

Now as respects Dr. E. we are pleased to record that his ideas were known before his election; and let us therefore hope that all who now differ from him, may speedily become his sincere friends, and give him their aid and countenance in his pious efforts.