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The Election of Hazan at Philadelphia


“Carthage [Ed. Occ.?] must be blotted out.”—Cato.
“One thing brings another.”—A. H.

Do not fear, kind reader, that you will have to peruse this month a long article about the doings in this city; it is merely to call your attention to the unwarranted proceedings of certain parties here that the election is again obtruded on your notice. A young gentleman, one of my supporters, whose signature is sufficiently well known, thought proper to give, in the Jewish papers, a true version of the election for Hazan, stating that I had not been a candidate, as I would not accept the terms which the majority had insisted upon offering, or rather, which the unthinking majority had been induced to acquiesce in, <<155>> urged thereto by the influence of a few personal enemies, who omitted nothing, fair and unfair, legal and illegal, by which their views could be promoted.

What injury Mr. Jones’s little piece could inflict on any one, surpasses my power of imagination, for, assuming even that it was unjust,—which to a certainty it is not, as I am prepared to exhibit by irrefragable evidence, whenever a responsible individual will demand the proof,—it could not have offended any justly-thinking person that my friends should utter some complaints about my forced retirement from an office which had been elevated through my exertions but had in not a single instance been disgraced by me. Was it necessary in return, to publish to the world a calumnious article, to which the subjoined communication of A. T. J. refers, “that I had been rejected by the congregation that knew me best?”

A more libellous and false expression never escaped the tongue or pen of the most unscrupulous; for I will maintain before the whole world, that not a single vote was cast for Messrs. Morais and Rosenfeld by one who will say that he does not think me morally, religiously, physically, and mentally fit for the office, to as great an extent, at least, as the person elected. Why I was not chosen, I could easily tell; for I know the reason of the leaders, and with the motives of their followers it is needless to trouble myself. Even the Parnass,*—whose influence was surely not exerted in my behalf, but was most probably brought to bear to insure my defeat, at least he stood so far aloof that it injured me with some,—had to acknowledge, when his attention was called to the libel in question, that the assertion was totally false.

* Whilst referring to him, I may as well say, that in the statement in last Occident, p. 111, I did not mean to be understood that he had informed me that the words “that he shall in all things conform to the Jewish law,” would be included in the new contract. I copied them, as stated there, with the resolution, from the anonymous pamphlet. The Parnass told me that the elect Would be for a period and with the old bond, and it required nothing more to induce me to refuse accepting office under such terms, as he well knew before he spoke to me. The grammatical structure of my words bear no other interpretation since “in addition to which” refers to terms in the line above, not to the words which follow. It surely is strange that the obvious meaning should be rejected and a forced construction adopted; but as it has been done, let this serve as an explanation—the Parnass did not inform me of the intended insult; the knowledge thereof came soon enough without him.

The editor of the New York Jewish organ must have known, when he admitted the article of a “Congregator,” that he was publishing a base libel upon me; I do not see his paper regularly, consequently he <<156>>may have supposed that it would escape my attention, and in fact it was several days after many had seen and noticed it, that I accidentally saw it at the house of a friend. How any one who has a spark of gentlemanly feeling can lend his press to perpetrate so monstrous a wrong, I cannot comprehend; not alone that I am not elected, but some lovers of scandal must shout over my downfall; and this editor helps them! But they may be assured, one and all, editor, correspondents, and readers, that I am not yet fallen quite so low as they would gladly imagine. Perhaps at this hour, I have more influence than they conceive possible; and, without boasting, I may say, that, God willing, I shall rise again higher than my fall has been; and as for stopping the Occident, I shall carry it on as long as I shall deem proper to do so, without heeding their envious croakings. So they may make their minds easy on that score, and attend to their own business, and leave me to manage my own.

But as regards the Asmonean, though he could print a libel against the oldest minister in the country, who proclaimed the Word of God before any one now in office had as­sumed the task of teaching, although he is not the oldest in years, he could not admit a reply except as an advertisement. In consequence of which, a few lines from my friend S. S. were inserted in that paper of the 9th of May, and amply paid for; but the subjoined, by A. T. J., was refused admission at any price. The candour and fair dealing of the Gothamite are certainly admirable, and the readers of both his and my works will be able to judge of the man and his deeds without any stimulating on my part. With this preface, I call public attention to the rejoinder of Mr. Jones, which appears in the Occident only because it was refused as already stated.—Ed. Oc.

To the Readers of the Asmonean

In the Asmonean of the 2d inst., there appeared a communication signed “A Congregator of Mikve Israel.” This prodigy of veracity announced that he wished “to make a few remarks on the inaccuracies” in my letter of the 25th ult., which his remarkable sagacity had discovered. Under this subterfuge, he intrudes himself upon public notice, and not only falsifies his own words, by not attempting to controvert a single statement therein, but publicly asserts two deliberate untruths.

First, That the Rev. Mr. Leeser was rejected by his congregation, which is false, as this “Congregator” well knew when he penned it. <<157>> Nothing can be plainer or more readily understood than that gentleman’s position. He announced that he could not serve another term as Hazan, unless certain reforms were made in the existing rules affecting the office. His congregation would not accede to his views. Mr. Leeser remained fixed in the resolve not to become an applicant, and retired at the expiration of his term.

Secondly, (if I can understand aright the ambiguous sentence,) he endeavours, by something of a spasmodic effort, to show that Mr. Leeser’s friends “kept his name at the polls,” not as a mark of preference,—but with the view of defeating an election, “as was previously determined and known to all electors.” This concluding paragraph is a fabrication in toto, and I have only to say that I defy the author to prove its truth.

Not content with the libellous inuendo directed at our late respected minister, in the part alluding to “the congregation who knew him well”—not satisfied with other cowardly insults to one against whom, in either public or private life, no man dare openly allege a single misdemeanour, he turns to assail his friends. As “Congregator” is peculiarly happy in the terseness and force of his remarks, I will quote his words, “He (Mr. L.) would no doubt have been reinstated, but for the officiousness of certain gentlemen.” Sapient reasoner! So Mr. Leeser was sacrificed (ay, that is the term,) through no fault of his own, but to punish his friends, because they were officious! Officious in what? How proud the opposition must be of so wise and politic an expounder of their views ! How grateful for his spontaneous and manly championship, who, doubtless, in his own conceit, is a host within himself, demolishing the noble band, (as they are characterized,) who had the officiousness to advocate the superior claims, and bestow their suffrages on one who had been their spiritual guide for over twenty years! What can a discriminating public think of such reasoning for the treatment to Mr. Lesser?

He was sacrificed by his friends, and “the election gives good proof of it.” How does it prove it? Enlighten us, ye wise men of Gotham, for verily it must puzzle the lawyers of Philadelphia. Convince us, Mr. Congregator, and the noble eleven, those unfortunate sacrificers, will, in due form, present you with a cap and bells as their just estimate of your services.

It is evident the only aim of “Congregator” was one common to all who possess the craven spirit to descend to anonymous attacks. An open and acknowledged enemy, I can admire; but he who, under an <<158>> assumed title, secretly vilifies another, acting alike the parts of coward and assassin; is utterly despicable in the eyes of all honourable men. Unfortunately, there are many such, who, not content that Mr. Leeser has been compelled to retire into private life, are still annoying him with calumnies and backbitings, which their coward natures dare not to his face assert. Such narrow-minded beings are but libels on the name of man!

I have now done with this “Congregator,” who certainly could never have been a seatholder in the Congregation of which Isaac Leeser was the honoured Minister, and in closing, tender him my parting advice, that whenever he again attempts to attack one man's veracity, or wan­tonly defames another, to summon to his aid at least three auxiliaries—the moral courage to own his deeds, the honest truth, and an English grammar.      A. T. J.

Philadelphia, May 7th, 1851.