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PHIL. PA, 1840

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חנוך לנער




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Philadelphia, Sunday, March 29th, 1840.

Dear Sir,—In behalf of the Superintendent and Teachers of the “Phila-
Hebrew Sunday School for Religious Instruction of Israelites,” we
respectfully request that you will furnish for publication a copy of your dis-
course delivered this day at the Synagogue.

Very respectfully, your obedient servants,



To the Rev. M. N. Nathan.

Philadelphia, March 30th. 1840.

Gentlemen,—In reply to your polite communication, permit me to state
that I have hitherto objected to the publication of my discourses; the inte-
rest which the Sunday School has excited overcomes my scruples, and my
esteemed friend, the Rev. Isaac Leeser, will hand you the manuscript. I
hope the public will be lenient, as the discourse was written in great haste.

I have the honour to be, gentlemen,

Your obedient servant,


To Lewis Allen and A. Hart, Esqrs.

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Sunday schools are nothing new among our Christian neighbours,
as many sects of them have had such establishments for shorter or
longer periods. Among our people, however, the case is very dif-
ferent, as far as the knowledge of the writer extends; and only at
Richmond, Va., had the attempt been made, with but partial success,
by the late Isaac B. Seixas, (then minister of that congregation, and
since then of the synagogue Sheerith Israel, at New York,) and the
writer of this memorial, before several of our ladies, feeling that some-
thing might and should be done to improve the religious character of
the Jewish children, and to give them at least an elementary and
comprehensive idea of their duties, resolved on founding a school
for the promulgation of religious knowledge on the first day of the
week, it being a general day of leisure, and as it could be devoted to
this pious object without interfering with the exercises of other
schools, and the avocations of the teachers. This plan, which pro-
mised to be so beneficial, soon found many willing to co-operate; and
the zeal of the teachers, was seconded by the eagerness of the children
to avail themselves of the opportunity to acquire a knowledge of their
religion. The school was at first commenced under the patronage
of the Female Hebrew Benevolent Society of Philadelphia; but un-
less he errs, the writer thinks that it never had to depend for support
upon that excellent charity, as from the outset donations were
freely offered for the furtherance of this blessed undertaking.

The first assemblage of the scholars took place at the house No. 97,
Walnut street (sic)
; but when the ladies had to give up the room they
there occupied, the Franklin Institute, with a commendable spirit of
liberality, permitted them to take possession of a spacious apartment

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in the old Masonic Hall, in Chestnut street (sic), where the weekly meet-
ings have taken place now for more than eighteen months.

As may easily be imagined, some prejudice was at first manifested
by various persons, who fancied that they discovered an objectionable
imitation of gentile practices in this undertaking, forgetting that it is
the first duty of Israel to instil (sic) knowledge of divine things in the hearts
of the young, and this institution was eminently calculated to bestow
this necessary blessing alike upon rich and poor without fee or price.
It is but seldom that so noble an aim has been sought after, begun
solely for the glorification of our Maker and the well-being of his
people; it is therefore gratifying to record, that this unfounded preju-
dice has nearly died away, and one cannot give a better evidence of
the fact, than that now fully one hundred children are enrolled, and
what is more, that nearly all attend whenever the weather is at all
favourable, and this despite the great distance which many of the
scholars and teachers have to walk, living as they do in almost every
part of the city and suburbs.

Another great difficulty, and one far more formidable, was the
scarcity of suitable books to be placed in the hands of scholars, since
those published by the American Sunday School Union, although
admirably written, and having a powerful tendency to impress the
minds of children, contain so much matter of a sectarian nature as
must almost banish them from a Jewish school, where it is of import-
ance to inculcate those principles which are the foundation of our reli-
gion. The only other books within our reach were the Elements of
the Jewish Faith, by Rabbi S. Cohen, and the Instruction in the
Mosaic Religion, arranged from the German of Johlson, by the writer
of this. In this emergency the Child's Bible Questions, by the A. S.
S. Union, was of necessity but partially adopted, there not being a
similar book and one more free from sectarian matter at hand; but it
is pleasing to remark, that an adaptation of this little work after our
own manner is now in the hands of a young lady of this place, and
will, it is hoped, see the light soon, and this with the consent of the
A. S. S. Union, who have waived their copyright in our favour; this,
too, is a highly gratifying fact, and it speaks loudly and emphatically
of the enlightened views of the board of publication of that powerful
institution, and especially of the kindness of John Hall, Esq., through
whom this polite offer has been conveyed.

Last spring the first anniversary examination took place. The day
fixed upon was one of anxiety to many a little heart; and fathers and
mothers too, looked forward with some thrill of hope and fear to the
probation of their children. It need not be told, that the exercises
were highly pleasing, and the liberal contributions, which were volun-

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tarily made without any solicitation, proved more clearly than words,
how pleasing an object our brethren had witnessed that day.

In the mean while the example set in this city was followed in New
and Charleston about the same time; and there, as well as here,
the superintendence and teaching are in the hands of the ladies. The
endowment, likewise, in both places, has been quite liberal; and there
can be but little doubt, that the commencement so happily made, will
not fail to produce all the good results which could reasonably be
expected. It is manifest, however, that such imitation abroad could
not do otherwise than stimulate to perseverance the first authors of
this good; and they have not disappointed the hopes formed of them.
They have gone on improving their charges by careful training, and
these have for the most part proved by an acquisition of knowledge
and more correct deportment, especially at public worship, that the
labour bestowed upon them has been well bestowed.

The increasing demand for religious information induced the writer,
immediately after the above examination, to finish and to commit to
the press the Catechism for Younger Children; and he mentions it
with sincere gratitude that it has already been introduced in the three
Sunday schools mentioned above, in several private institutions, and
for family reading; it was more than he could have expected within
nine months after its appearance: especially since he had so often
claimed the support of his fellow-Israelites in his former publications.
Yet he says it without affectation, that his issuing the two school-
books, already mentioned, appeared to him like the launching of a
frail bark upon a stormy sea; but the promptitude with which many
of the answers were given by the scholars in their examination on
yesterday, has inspired him with the hope that the frail bark may be
made instrumental in bearing some devoted spirit to the haven of
righteousness by the blessing of Him who imparteth knowledge, and
giveth to man wisdom and understanding.

It was yesterday that the second examination of the scholars of this
nursery of piety took place: it was natural to expect some improve-
ment upon the progress of last year, but the result far surpassed the
most sanguine expectations. The northern half of the ground-floor of
the synagogue was reserved for the scholars, each class headed by its
teacher; and the steps leading to the ark were occupied by the
youngest class, and certainly formed a collection of happy faces,
which no one could look on without pleasure; and these little ones,
when called upon to answer their Bible-questions, acquitted themselves
in a manner highly gratifying to their parents and creditable to their
youthful teacher. The other classes, as they were called upon in suc-
cession, also showed that much care had been profitably bestowed;

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but it would be invidious to mention particulars where the whole was
so satisfactory. The writer knows not how others felt, but he can
truly say that he felt rejoiced and gratified; and to judge from the
countenance of the many that thronged the place of worship, he may
freely affirm, that never a public exhibition left more favourable
impressions upon the hearers, and that the words of congratulation
every where uttered must have sprung from hearts convinced that a
good work had been done in Israel.

We were lately gratified by the arrival among us of the Rev.
Moses N. Nathan
, Minister of the German Congregation, Shangaray
Yahshar, of Kingston, Jamaica, who visits this country in quest of a
renewal of his own health and that of his amiable companion. As the
annual examination was so near at hand, Mr. N. was invited to ad-
dress the congregation at the conclusion of the exercises; he kindly
consented, and returned from New York, whither he had gone to the
relations of his wife. He has conferred an additional favour by per-
mitting us to have his address printed; and it is to be hoped that its
admirable sentiments will be long remembered after this interesting
stranger shall have been restored to his home and station.

It only remains to be added, that at the conclusion of the address
contributions for the school-fund, more liberal than last year, were
made; and we may look forward to a long continuance of the useful-
ness among us of the religious enterprize (sic) of our benevolent sisters,
and that it will every year lay a stronger hold on the affections of all
the Israelites of this city; and all that then will be left is to hope that
this example of righteousness may be universally followed, and cause
the spread of truth and grace among all the seed of Jacob.

In the following pages are presented the exercises on the above
occasion, and the spirit which called for this publication will no doubt
keep them long in the memory of all present.

Monday, March 30th.

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The exercises commenced with reading Psalms cxxiv. and cxxvi.

after which the following Prayer:


May thy name, O Lord our God, be praised unto
everlasting, even from eternity to eternity, for thine is
the glory and the power, and thy providence watches
over all the beings whom thy word has created.
Wherever we turn, we behold the works of thy good-
ness, the doings of thy beneficence; and life, and health,
and wisdom, and light are all gifts which proceed from
thee solely. For who is with thee in heaven? and who
is near thee on earth? Above, thou reignest alone, there
is no second to share the rule with thee, omnipotent
Father; and on earth all are thy creatures, all the works
of thy own hands. There is no saviour without thee;
for when thou woundest, who shall heal? if thou smitest,
who can save from thy power? and if thy wrath is en-
kindled, who shall appease thee, save it be that thy
mercy forgives the repentant sinner? It is to thee, there-
fore, that we call in our distress; to thee, therefore, we
pray; to thee, therefore, we bend the knee. O, that all
flesh might like us be taught to revere thee alone. O,
that all Israel might be made of one heart, and one spi-
rit, to serve thee in truth and sincerity!

The heavens and the heavens of heavens cannot con-
tain thee, for all have sprung from thee; all is sustained
by thy might; all lives only with and through thee.
Yet thou hast ever deigned to fix thy dwelling in the
midst of thy servants, and from the mouth of babes and
sucklings thou hast founded thy mighty works; the
deeds done by the innocent, the words of purity flowing
from their mouth are to thee agreeable savour; and thou


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delightest in the offering of prayer which the humble
sacrifice unto thee. O our Saviour! Behold us then this
day assembled in this house which as been built for
thy worship, with our children, our sons and daughters,
whom thy servants endeavour to rear up to know and to
fear thee all the days they may live on earth, and to
instruct in the law of thy will which thou gavest unto
our forefathers in the days of yore, when they beheld
thy glory, saw thy fire, and heard thy voice. How shall
we thank thee? how shall we praise thee, for this boon
which thou didst so graciously bestow on us, by which
thou didst separate us from the heathen, and broughtest
us near unto thy service to fear thy name, and to be the
witnesses of thy glory? In all our wanderings it has
been our stay, amidst all our sorrows it has been our
support; and unto this day we are sustained through it
as a people distinct and separate from the other nations
of the earth. We humbly confess, that it is not our
wisdom and our knowledge that have done this; but
the wisdom and the knowledge which thou didst impart
unto us through the hands of thy servant Moses, the
chosen messenger of thy goodness. We therefore im-
plore thee, O Lord our God, and God of our fathers!
to strengthen us in our striving to promulgate the know-
ledge of thy word; to instil (sic) into us, and all those en-
gaged in teaching the precepts of thy code persuasive
wisdom, and eloquence of speech, that our word may
sink deep into the hearts of all those who come to learn,
that the seed which is planted mid labour and sorrow
may produce fruits of holiness and devotion, promoting
adoration of thee, the only God, and love to our fellow-
men, who, like us, have received a living soul and a
feeling heart.

May it also be thy will, to receive in favour this en-
deavour of the daughters of Israel in this and other
cities, to found institutions for the spread of godliness;

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prosper their work, forward their enterprize (sic), and grant
that whilst blessing they may be blest (sic); that whilst
teaching they may learn; that whilst purifying they
may be purified, and brought to a knowledge of the
good, and be led to follow that path of righteousness
and truth which leads to everlasting happiness. May
many be induced to imitate their example; may their
reward be a multitude of disciples, freed from the bonds
of unbelief, armed with the knowledge of truth, that
thy may be able to withstand the attacks of them who
love not Israel, and who would gladly wean them from
the observance of thy precepts.

But what are we, that we have been brought hither?
what is our life? what is our righteousness? A day
passes, and we are cut off; thou hidest thy face, and we
perish; in the midst of our devotion our thoughts often
wander; and whilst worshipping (sic), our mind is turned
towards gain and the vanities of this life. All the bene-
fits we receive from thee are undeserved by us; thy
bounty is extended to thy children, but they merit it not.
Miracles have been wrought in our support; unheard-
of deeds have been displayed that we might be pre-
served; but not because of our righteousness, but only
because of thy mercy, which is unending. Ere we
prayed, thou ever didst answer; before our thoughts
were uttered, thou didst hear; and when affliction's
waves threatened to overwhelm us, thy power stayed
the destructive current, and we received enlargement.
We therefore throw ourselves humbly upon the continu-
ance of thy mercy; guard us, as thou wert wont to
guard; shield us, as thou ever didst shield; preserve
unto us the knowledge of thy law, and cause its pre-
cepts to speak a language which may find a response in
the heart of every son of man, and especially of all these
young charges, whom thy servants have assembled to-
gether in thy house, and endeavour to lead unto the

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footstool of thy greatness. Multiply the teachers,
strengthen them in their effort, and let their reward be,
that the good they now do may produce a plentiful
harvest of righteousness and truth.

And upon thy servant, who by thee permitted, has
spoken of thy goodness and thy law in the distant isle
of the sea, where they, who, like us, call on thy unity,
have reared houses for thy service, do thou shed thy
grace and truth, and cause us to be instructed and to
profit by the words he will address to us. Arm his
tongue with persuasiveness, that we all may leave this
house to-day improved and better than we entered.
Bless his labours for thy glory, wherever they be exert-
ed, and cause him to return to his station, in the fel-
lowship of the daughter of Jacob his companion, in
restored health, in renewed vigour, and increased use-

Father of all, we further pray thee, to let thy coun-
tenance shine unto us, and unto all Israel; and shield
us by the shadow of thy wings from the many calami-
ties we are subject to, because that we are flesh.
Strengthen us, that when in health, we may overcome
the evil of our inclinations, and that when our body is
racked by pain, we may be prepared to resign cheerfully
our spirit into thy hands, O our King! Let thy grace
and thy holy spirit be ever with us; remember the cap-
tivity of Jacob, and forsake not the outcasts of Israel,
and suffer not the gentiles to devour them, lest they
say, Where is their God? Preserve unto us also the
blessing of freedom which we enjoy in this land, and
grant that a spirit of pure benevolence may become
universal toward thy people in every country of their
dispersion. But above all, fulfil (sic) unto us the promise
made to us through thy prophet, who spoke: “As for
me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord, my
spirit which is upon thee, and my words which I have

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put in thy mouth shall not depart from thy mouth, nor
from the mouth of thy children, nor from the mouth of
thy children's children, saith the Lord, from henceforth,
and for ever.”—May this be thy will. Amen.

Conclusion of Sabbath, March 29Veadar,24.—5600.

The following Prayer by the Superintendent and Scholars was then


[SUPERINTENDENT.]—Come ye children, hearken
unto me, and I will teach you the fear of the Lord; lift
up your young hearts in prayer; in all your ways
acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.

[CHILDREN.]—O God, give unto us the help we need;
give us bread to eat, and raiment to put on, and instruc-
tion to understand thy mercies; may we be grateful for
all thy goodness; may we be dutiful to our parents;
honest in all our dealings; true in our words and ac-
tions; affectionate in our behaviour to one another;
attentive to our teachers; and above all, ardent and
devout in adoring thee alone, the God of our fathers
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; enlighten our faith, that we
may daily repeat the acknowledgment of thy unity.
“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord. Blessed
be the name of the glory of his kingdom for ever and
ever.” Amen.

After which the Scholars sang Ane Caylohaynoo.

Next succeeded the examination of all the classes, commencing with the
youngest. After which, Psalm xxix. was sung by the Congregation and
the Scholars. At its conclusion, Mr. Nathans (sic) delivered the following

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THE exhibition we have had the satisfaction of wit-
nessing this day, must be a source of joy and congratu-
lation to every member of this branch of Israel; we
have seen progress made in the knowledge of our law,
that sacred law, which at once illumines and refines; for
civilization and enlightenment ever follow in its steps,
and are its unfailing concomitants. Every Hebrew who
reverences and adores the Author and Bestower of this
invaluable treasure, this solace and comforter of our
lives, this stay of our hope, this shield of our salvation,
cannot withhold rejoicing at its diffusion. United as
we are in faith, aspiring as the meanest of the family of
Abraham does to a full and equal participation in the
blessings and promises it bestows and holds forth, the
inculcation of its doctrines at an early age among our
youth, is an object of especial desire; and bids fair in the
present instance to be realized. The excellent effects
of the work undertaken only within the last two years
are too palpable, too manifest, even if a doubt could for
a moment have been entertained or indulged of the
plan's ultimate success. A continuance of the same
pious zeal and energy, which led to the first establish-
ment of a Sunday School for spiritual instruction, is
alone required to produce solid and permanent benefits.
Establishments like this have long been wanting among
us, and this city, renowned in the western world, has
been the first to display an example worthy of imitation.
Nor has it been neglected; for in New York and Charles-
they have not only instituted similar schools, but

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seem to have imbibed the same spirit of earnestness and
sincerity which characterize the founder of this, the
parent society. May they, like living waters springing
from the same source, perpetually gush forth; may their
channels and diverging streams widen and increase;
slaking the thirst of them who pant for the pure and
wholesome draughts (sic) of salvation, imparting vigour to
the languid soul, and fertility to the dry and barren

Perhaps at no period were the necessity and import-
ance of such schools more obvious, than at the present
time. Our nation stands in the fore-ground of the
world's great picture, the oldest, most conspicuous, and
most prominent object; some which once shone there in
all the brilliancy and gorgeousness of light and colour-
ing, eclipsing and overshadowing us, have disappeared
before the effacing touch of time; others have been
modified and changed, scarcely retaining a vestige of
their original character, whilst we remain, sobered in-
deed in our tints, mellowed by age; but exhibiting the
same outline, the same proportions, the same freshness,
though attempts have incessantly been made violently
to deface and alter the strong lineaments and features,
first impressed on us by the world's great Designer.
But what force failed to effect, art may seek to accom-
plish. The peril and danger are not less imminent,
though the weapon and the open enemy are alike con-
cealed; all the vigilance of Israel is necessary to guard
against that gentleness and apparent sympathy for our
fallen condition, which have assumed the place of former
hostility. The magnanimity to spare is still wanting.
In other words, the avowed desire of conversion, the
continual tamperings with the ignorant of our people, to
induce them to desert the standard of that faith, under
which Israel and Judah conquered, triumphed, and
under whose protecting folds they dwelt peacefully “in

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a land flowing with milk and honey,” and to which,
though rent, tattered, and trampled on, they have affec-
tionately clung in misery and sorrow, are becoming
more daring daily. We need all our energies to stem
their onward, insidious progress, if we would have none
forsake God, if we would not be fed with the poisonous
grapes of Sodom, and the bitter fruit of Gomorrah.
These trials of our constancy are no doubt designed by
the Almighty to test us, and try the stability of our faith
in Him; let Him not impeach our watchfulness in
tending the sacred fire which should be continually
burning upon the altar, as it was in the temple of old,
never extinguished, but always replenished by the hands
of the ministering and careful priest.

Far be it from me to endeavour to impress on the
minds of you, my brethren and sisters in faith, aught
derogatory to the charity and universal benevolence
which our religion breathes in all its pages. I may,
however, be excused for opening your eyes to the dan-
ger, exposing its nature, and pointing out the quarter
whence it proceeds. Duty and truth trumpet forth the
note of alarm; shall the voice of smiling and perfumed
courtesy drown the shrill and warning blast? Yet it
needed not me, sons and daughters of Judah, to sound the
awakening charge; the watchman* you have appoint-
ed has manfully done his duty, and ye are prepared; not
to combat with weapons of brass and iron, not to don
the glittering armour and panoply of proof, to buckle on
the falchion, and lead from his stall the pawing and
champing steed, eager for the tumult and din of battle;
no, but to train the hearts of innocence and youth, and,
without making them disputants in the war of religious
controversy, by carefully instructing them in the word
and law of God, prove incontestably that you fear not

*The Rev. Isaac Leeser, who lately exposed this insidious course
in the public press.

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the assailant; because, “out of the mouth of babes and
sucklings, God has provided strength to overthrow the
enemy,” and frustrate his designs.

Vice and ignorance are ever conjoined; and the only
means of counteracting their baleful and pernicious in-
fluence is, the encouragement of virtue and know-
ledge. These are the safe-guards and bulwarks of
society, shielding it from evil, stemming the overwhelm-
ing torrent of misery, which would else devastate the
fair and verdant face of nature, and make the world a
howling wilderness, unfit for humanity. The horrors
of heathenism are well known, its immoralities figure
as conspicuously; and the pages of sacred history also
detail scenes and occurrences revolting to the mind im-
bued with the least portion of compassion; but while
Israel observed and obeyed the commandments enjoined
in our holy books, they were stained with none of the
crimes which abound in the annals of nations enriched
by the labours and researches of philosophy, but who
knew not God. In recent times, when a miscalled
philosophy reigned triumphant, innumerable were the
victims which it immolated at its shrine; but virtue and
knowledge had fled, for the volume which inculcated
their principles was scorned and contemned. Well
may the believer ask, what have the sayings and pre-
cepts of the most eminent sages availed, where this book
was unknown? It alone teaches the true economy of
life and social happiness; and what are wisdom, riches,
and power, unless accompanied by the vivifying, the
enlightening spirit of the fear of God, the beginning of
knowledge? Our origin, our nature, our weaknesses, and
our dependence, are shown in its luminous pages; and
is it not equally communicative of our Creator, our
duties, our power, and our hopes of that heaven,
“where the wicked cease from troubling, and where
the weary are at rest?”


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“Grace is deceptive, and beauty fleeting, the woman
who feareth the Lord she shall be praised.” The fear
of God is the first lesson which the lisping mouth of
infancy should be taught to pronounce, that it may be
indelibly engraven (sic) on the heart of youth, sway the ac-
tions and guide the understanding of the man, and
make him in old age cling to the ways of righteousness,
piety and faithfulness, following the path which the
pillar of cloud indicated, and that of fire illumined.
And to whom ought the charge be confided of first in-
stilling this primary principle? to woman, to the tender
nurse, the affectionate, the anxious mother, the kind and
sympathising (sic) friend, in whose bosom the prattling child
nestles, and whither it flies in danger and distress. Her
mildness and gentleness are designed by Providence to
imprint the first lessons of love, life, and light; to raise
the little hands in humble prayer and thanksgiving to
the heavenly Father, who rejoiceth when we are con-
tent, happy, and thankful, and regard Him as our gra-
cious Benefactor and kind Protector. For if man has
even the inclination, he has not the time or patience to
undertake this obligatory duty. In founding this excel-
lent establishment, the daughters of Israel have entered
into the meaning and intention of Scripture; for the fear
of God being the beginning of wisdom, and hence, the
first thing to be instilled into the tender and ductile
mind of childhood, the task has been most correctly and
righteously assumed by those, to whose charge infancy
is confided, and by whom it is trained and protected.

As to its necessity, if an inquiry were established,
much of the laxity and indifference so prevalent in our
societies, would be ascribed to the neglect of imparting
the words of holiness at an early age. We all know the
force of early impressions. Look at the history of our
people, exposed as they were for so many years to the
besotting influences of Egyptian idolatry. Parents

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may be assured of the hazard they incur by this culpa-
ble inattention to the eternal welfare of their children.
Do we not frequently witness departures from the body
of the nation? faith sacrificed at the shrine of passion,
—self-denial unknown and unpractised (sic),—grief, sorrow,
and estrangement introduced into the bosom of families,
where before peace and affection dwelt,—and all mainly
attributable to parents who failed to communicate to
their offspring the lessons which they had received?
Mixed marriages too, where one of the parties, quietly,
ignobly, submits to, but refuses to subscribe to the popu-
lar faith? and what are the results? do not the offspring
of such unions deride the belief which either father or
mother has been criminal enough to abandon? But sup-
posing even that their desertion is owing to conviction,
does it not invariably proceed from ignorance of the
tenets forsaken and renounced? And shall we hesitate to
remove this sin from among us, to efface the foul blot
of ignorance, and prevent any from straying out of the
pastures of the Lord? One of the most effectual methods
of doing it, is by the establishment of schools such as
the present. For if lamentable results, like those just
enumerated, have arisen from culpable neglect in the
days of youth, the never failing remedy of knowledge
will stop the contagion of evil example, render the hearts
of the wavering and unsteady stable and confident, and
enable them to cope with the sophistry, wherewith many
are now assailed and deluded.

The prospects of success shadowed forth by means of
religious knowledge, taught in this and similar schools,
may be deemed too glowing; if so, my impressions flow
not only from enthusiastic feeling, from the fervour of
zeal, not of fanaticism, in the cause of Judaism, but also
from strong and sincere conviction, and from that spirit
of patriotism which burns intensely, when the welfare of
our religion and its institutions is at stake. But Scrip-

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ture bears me out in my assertions; its words encourage
me to augur the favourable issue of efforts made for its
propagation, continuous study, and ennobling practice; it
confirms my feeble thoughts, strengthens my hopes and
wishes, and will quicken the exertions of the virtuous
originator and conductors of this flourishing society. If
the diligent and daily perusal of the pages of Holy Writ
was recommended to the renowned warrior, the leader
of the Lord's chosen hosts, if his reputation, fame,
glory and triumph over the armed and warlike heathen
were all made dependent on his carefully following the
rules, and guiding himself by the celestial directions of
the law: is not the same duty equally incumbent on
every member of the family of Jacob, and the road to
happiness, here and hereafter, open to all, as it was to
the illustrious dead? Let us remember the words of
the Almighty to Joshua, the might captain, who never
experienced defeat, who confidently relied on the out-
stretched arm by which he was redeemed from Egyp-
tian slavery, and not on the strength of the myriads he
commanded. (Joshua i. 7, 8.) “Be strong and very
courageous, to observe and do according to all the law
that Moses, my servant, commanded thee, turn not from
it to the right hand or to the left; this book of the law
shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt medi-
tate therein day and night, to observe and do all that is
written therein, for then thou shalt make thy way pros-
perous, and then thou shalt succeed.” Be strong, be
confident, not in thy prowess, not in thy sword; but in
keeping and observing the law, studying it day and
night, for thereby thou shalt prosper, and herein lies
the success of thy career.

And hereon depends the future good fortune of this
institution, and thus let your instruction be given;
teach these scions of Israel not only the words, but en-
join their continual study and repetition; teach them to

[Page 21]



blend the love and fear of God and his commandments,
to respect, to maintain, to uphold the dignity of that
pure law given by God to Moses, to disregard popular
prejudice, scorn, hatred, pity, or whatever may assail it,
to oppose the impenetrable shield of indomitable faith
to the sharp arrows of infidelity and sarcasm;—teach
them, and expose to their wondering gaze, the bright
promises yet unfulfilled in the sublime writings of the
inspired and suffering prophets;—teach them above all
to bear humbly, meekly, patiently, as their ancestors
have done for ages, the crying evils of calumny and
detraction; for, that Shiloh will come, the Messiah,
their regenerator, will appear;—and the God who
keepeth covenant and mercy, made with Abraham,
sworn unto Isaac, and confirmed unto Jacob, will not
let one word fall to the ground which He spake unto
the faithful minister of His house.

The difficulties which first attended this establish-
ment could not have been few, or easy to overcome; the
prejudices long and deeply rooted to what seemed, in
fact, conformity to the customs of strangers, must have
proved, at the commencement, serious obstacles to the
indefatigable founder and patroness of this society.
These prejudices have, under Heaven's help, disap-
peared; and parents are fully awakened to an estimate
of the advantages to be obtained by their children in
this school. To designate it appropriately, we should
call it a nursery of Jewish piety—a plantation, where
the young saplings of our faith are tended until they
have attained maturity of strength, so that when trans-
planted, they may be ranked among the mighty trees
of the forest, or be accounted as the cedars of Lebanon,
planted in the house of the Lord, and the courts of our

There is, however, one feature which deserves par-

[Page 22]



ticular notice and commendation: it is the laudable
conduct of persons in a respectable condition of life not
preventing their children from mingling with the indi-
gent, and overcoming the too often predominant scru-
ples of silly pride and fear. This is a peculiar and
beautiful characteristic, one of the strongest supports,
one of the main pillars of the institution, and must
assuredly contribute to its prosperity and well-being.
In the ancient temple at Jerusalem, the poor man's
handful of meal was as acceptable an offering as the
fatling of the rich; and the morning and evening sac-
rifices were supplied by the half shekels collected alike
from peasant and prince; for God would have equality in
His worship, and the adventitious claims to superiority
are disregarded by Him, who delights in the humility,
modesty, and lowliness of His servants, whom He loves
for their pious virtues, not for the number and value of
their burnt-offerings and libations. Whilst, therefore,
this principle of equality is persevered in and strictly
maintained, whilst “the rich and poor meet together,”
to learn and know that “the Eternal is the Maker of
them all,” the objects of this society will be attained;
and there will also exist such an endless desire, such a
perpetual yearning for instruction, that not one single
Jewish child shall remain ignorant of his Creator, his
duties, and his hopes of eternity.

Then, when you have ploughed the soil, removed
every stump and stone, and eradicated every noxious
weed, when you have sown the seed, and it has yielded
a plenteous harvest—a hundred fold, as it did to the
Patriarch Isaac, then will your desires become more
extended; you will wish to enlarge the narrow boun-
daries which now encompass you, and extend your
borders; and then may we hope to see arise a house of
learning, as in former days, where our antiquities, our
sacred and precious records, our ancient philosophers,

[Page 23]



moralists, and poets shall form part of the superstruc-
ture of learning and study, whose foundation has been
laid in this embryo institution; where, with every
facility of means for the cultivation of art and science,
in every branch of polite and popular literature which
shall put our youth on a par with others, and make
them worthy and intelligent citizens and subjects, they
may dive into the wisdom of those hidden tomes which
ignorance has decried and prejudice derided. The
apparent torpor which bigotry and intolerance com-
pelled us to assume is vanishing daily; the latent spark
begins to kindle, soon will it quicken into flame, ex-
pand, enlighten, and then, when the beacon-fire shines
forth far and wide to the wondering, the amazed na-
tions, who have so long scoffed at us and think our
minds obscured by our tenacious adherence to the evi-
dences and records of our former fame, then will they
be compelled to admit, as Moses foretold in Deuterono-
my, “surely this nation is a wise and understanding

Again do Jewish professors sit in the academical
chair not the neophytes who for the sake of obtaining
distinction under prejudiced and illiberal governments,
abandon their people and renounce their God for ambi-
tion or lucre! No! But men who have rejected ho-
nours when fettered with oaths, and trammelled (sic) with
assertions repugnant to their creed and their conscience.*
Soon may we hope to see their number increase, and
colleges and schools founded under the superintend-
ence of such consistent men, where the student shall
no longer be compelled to conceal his faith, to avoid the
ridicule and taunts of his Christian companions, but

*Among these honourable and distinguished men, I may mention
Professors Julius Furst, of Leipsic (sic), H. Hurwitz, and J. J. Sylvester,
of the London University; the last, though second wrangler at Cam-
, did not take his degree, for the reasons above mentioned.

[Page 24]



matriculate “in academic shades and learned halls,”
where the reproached name he bears shall not be the
bar to, but the passport of admission.

To insure and forward consequences so valuable, of
so vital an import to the best interests of this congrega-
tion, place this training school for your callow young
on a stable footing, that the benefits it bestows may not
be affected by those accidents to which in time it is not
unlikely to be exposed. Not that the commendable
zeal which now distinguishes its operations will relax;
but it may please God to call hence its most earnest
supporters, those disinterested labourers in the vineyard
of the Lord, who seek no reward in the service of their
beloved Master, and not enough be found willing or
able to undertake the work without compensation.
Quietly yet accessibly useful, this institution should
be liberally and amply endowed to afford every assist-
ance which the spiritual wants of our youth may hence-
forward require. To the generosity and philanthropy
which so eminently characterize the supporters of our
charities, there needs not much appeal when the wel-
fare of a society so purely national is concerned. There
can be no doubt that the mere requisition for pecuniary
aid will be answered promptly, cheerfully, universally,
by hearts as grateful as they are joyful in promoting a
correct knowledge of God, and wide dissemination of
His commandments.

To you, my young friends, who have interested us
so much by your proficiency, let me address a few
words, and I would fain hope that you will recall their
purport when he who speaks them is absent or gathered
to his fathers. You are the objects of your parents'
solicitude and affection, of their fondest hopes, their most
ardent wishes; but equally, not less so, are ye to every
member of the stock of Israel. Ye are tender branches
of that vine which “God brought out of Egypt,” but

[Page 25]



whose roots are in all countries, against which the axe
and fire have been laid unavailingly, and which flou-
rishes and still yields abundant fruit, notwithstanding
its great age, and its exposure to rude assaults in ancient
and modern times. God regards you with especial
love, because you are shoots of this tree; do not therefore
seek to be separated from it, to join yourselves to others
of more stately appearance. Your future good, your
success, the integrity and uprightness of your life, de-
pend on the correct observance of those principles
which your kind and benevolent friends devote them-
selves to instil (sic) into your tender minds. Never forget
them; turn not to the right hand or to the left; but
walk in the laws of Moses, and guide yourselves by
the directions and rules of the Old Testament. You
will be addressed when you are older, perhaps in your
early years, whilst yet you know not good from evil, in
the words of kindness, of piety, of solemn warning,
touching your religion; you will be asked to renounce
it, and told that our dispersed and unhappy state arises
from not believing in a mediator and saviour. Turn a
deaf ear to all such representations, and remain constant
to the precepts which have been given us as an inherit-
ance. Your Saviour and Redeemer is God the Creator
of heaven and earth; your Messiah, who will restore
the house of Israel, will be of flesh and blood like your-
selves, but wise, pure, and of great sanctity, to fulfil (sic)
what the Almighty, the Father of all, has designed.
When you are in doubt, apply to your teachers, and
they will explain what is incomprehensible to your un-
derstandings,—and be assured that you will be happy,
prosperous, and pleasing in the sight of God and man,
while you bear in mind, practise (sic), and believe in the
inspired writings of Moses and the prophets his suc-
cessors. Then will “the Eternal bless the works of
your hands;” ye will “die the death of the righteous;”


[Page 26]



and your end will be peace below, everlasting glory
and salvation in heaven above.

Beloved brethren, offspring of Abraham, are ye not
anxious to see friendship, unanimity, and sincerity
reign amongst us and our descendants? Then train
your children to love that which is imperishable, to set
no more than its just value on that which departs more
quickly than the fleeting shadow. Bid them call dis-
cretion their friend, wisdom their sister, religion their
protecting guide. Train them to be upright in judg-
ment, in mind, in conduct, firm of character, immov-
able in faith; that, whether assailed by force or persua-
sion, by temptations of the present or future, whether
in prosperity or adversity, life or death, they may never
separate themselves from the collective body. Let
such be the spirit of their mental culture, which will
give strength, and strength will give courage, to ani-
mate them in the struggles and vicissitudes of life,
assuring them of victory, whose beginning and end
spring from confidence in the sublime and exalted sen-
timent, “The Lord is with me, I will not fear, what
can man do unto me?”

Oh, Eternal God of Hosts, whose glory the heavens
declare, and whose wisdom the firmament and all crea-
tion show, we bless and extol thy name for the loving-
kindness and mercy Thou hast extended to us and to
our fathers. Inspire us with good resolutions, and
strengthen us in the observance of thy sure testimonies.
Endow us with courage and confidence, and prosper
the holy work of instruction. Let the merits of our
ancestors, for our own are insufficient, plead for us, thy
people, the children of thy covenant, the seed of thy
beloved servants, whom Thou didst promise ever to pro-
tect under the shadow of thy wing. Oh God, purify
our heart and soul, to appreciate the words which Thou

[Page 27]



didst reveal to Moses, and enlighten our eyes, that we
may not through ignorance violate thine ordinances.

Bless, O Father, these children, and may they ever
follow the injunctions of that law which has length of
days in its right hand, riches and honour in its left.

For the minister and congregation of this synagogue,
for all the members of our community in all parts of the
earth, and the islands of the sea, and for all our fellow
creatures, we implore thy benediction, let the light of
thy countenance shine upon them, and give them

The aspirations and wishes of all assembled are united
in imploring, at thy hands, favour and grace for the
pious daughter of Judah, the founder of this institution,
the friend of youth, the reverer of her faith and creed.
Grant her and her coadjutors life, health, and peace,
and deal well with her and her house, as Thou didst
with the midwives of old; and may there never be
lacking amongst our congregations any to follow her
wise and benevolent example. Amen!

[Page 28]



After Mr. Nathan had concluded the above oration, which was listened to
with undivided attention, the following hymn, which was found among the
papers of the late Miss Slowey Hays, of Richmond, Va., was sung:



(Air—“Far, far, o'er hill and dell.”)


O GOD! to thee my voice I raise,

And, prostrate at thy throne,

I lift my heart to sing thy praise,

To thee, my GOD—alone.


For in thy kind and heavenly love

My soul shall sink to rest,

And when it pleaseth thee to prove

My faith for me, 'tis best.


For love like thine extends to all,

Thy mighty hand has giv'n,

And through thy mercy none shall fall,

Who seek thy love in heav'n.


Thy mercy shines through time and space,

And beams alike on all,

Who kneel to own thy sovereign grace,

Prepared to meet thy call.


Then, like the sun, my soul, awake,

To gild my closing hour,

And with thy praise my morning break,

To sing, my GOD, thy power.

In conclusion, the premiums to the deserving scholars for merit and pro-
ficiency were distributed, and a collection for the funds of the school was
taken up, which proved that the ancient spirit of liberality to further worthy
objects is still alive in the spirit of Jacob's descendants.