web analytics
May 29, 2015 / 11 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Gershom Kursheedt And Sir Moses Montefiore


Glimpses-020609

           Unless otherwise indicated, all quotations are from “Some Relations of Gershom Kursheedt and Sir Moses Montefiore” by D. DeSola Pool, Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society (1893-1961); 1947; 37, AJHS Journal, page 213 & ff, available at http://www.ajhs.org/reference/adaje.cfm.

Last month’s Glimpses column, “The Man Who Brought Judah Touro Back To Judaism,” discussed how legendary philanthropist Judah Touro’s return to religious observance was influenced by Gershom Kursheedt (1817-1863). Kursheedt also convinced Touro to leave considerable sums of money to support many Jewish causes.

 

In his will Touro left his friend Kursheedt $10,000 and appointed him one of his three executors. Among Kursheedt’s duties in this connection was that of making effective Touro’s legacy of $50,000 to secure the Jews of the Holy Land “the inestimable privilege of worshipping the Almighty according to our religion, without molestation.” Sir Moses Montefiore was given discretionary powers “to promote the aforesaid objects.”

Judah Touro passed away on January 13, 1854. Later that year Gershom went to England to meet with Sir Moses to plan how they would carry out Touro’s wishes. An entry in the daily diary Lady Montefiore kept for her husband, dated August 5, 1854, reads:

Mr. Gershon [sic] Kursheedt, one of the executors of the late Juda [sic] Touro, of New Orleans, arrived to arrange with Sir Moses about the legacy of fifty thousand dollars left at his disposal for the purpose of relieving the poor Israelites in the Holy Land in such manner as Sir Moses should advise.

Sir Moses, at the first interview he had with this gentleman, suggested that the money should be employed in building a hospital in Jerusalem. Mr. Kursheedt immediately assented . He was most happy, as it settled the principal business he had in England; the co-executors had given him full power to agree to any plan Sir Moses should propose.

On April 25, 1855 Gershom, together with Sir Moses and Lady Montefiore, left for a trip to Palestine with the intention of laying the groundwork for building the proposed hospital. The journey was certainly arduous.

The visas on Gershom Kursheedt’s passport help us trace their journey over Europe by way of Calais, Hanover, Cologne, Dresden, Prague, Vienna, Trieste, Corfu and Constantinople. There they had to wait to get letters and permits from the Sultan and the firman for building the hospital. Finally, on July 18, 1855, they arrived in Jerusalem, where they were given a royal welcome. About a month later, on August 15, 1855, in the presence of a numerous concourse of spectators of various religious denominations, they laid the foundation stone of the proposed hospital and planned the Touro almshouses.

Gershom eventually returned to England and in November of 1855 sailed for America. In April 1856 Sir Moses wrote to Gershom, “It must be a great happiness to you to know that with your great influence with the late Mr. Touro, Peace to his Soul, you have been the means of directing the eyes and hearts of many of our Brethren towards the Holy Land and contributing to the welfare of our coreligionists now dwelling in that land of our Fathers.”1

In 1857 Gershom returned to England and joined Lord and Lady Montefiore on another trip to the Holy Land.

This time they traveled to Jerusalem via Naples, Messina, Malta, Alexandria, and Jaffa. Upon arriving in Jerusalem, they found that the Rothschilds had built a hospital there the preceding year. At the suggestion of the rabbis of Jerusalem, it was decided to use the Touro money instead for the erection of almshouses for “persons of excellent character, men as well learned in our law.” So beganplans for what constituted the first Jewish neighborhood inJerusalem outside the walls of the Old City [later named Mishkenot Sha’ananim].2

Over the years Gershom gained the friendship and confidence of Sir Moses. In a letter to Gershom dated July 8, 1858, Sir Moses wrote:

I wish I could prevail on you to come and pass a couple of months with us in East Cliff. We could then conclude on the best plan for carrying out Mr. Touro’s benevolent intentions without that delay which a correspondence across the Atlantic would occasion … it would be of the greatest possible satisfaction to me to have the advantage of your advice on every point concerning the matter. Pray let me know can you without great inconvenience come (and come as soon as possible). We shall indeed be happy to have you. Lady Montefiore writes with me in kindest regards to you….3

In 1859 Gershom again went to Europe, this time to assist Sir Moses in his ultimately unsuccessful efforts to have Edgar Mortara, a young child whom papal guards had violently abducted from the home of his Jewish parents in Bologna, Italy, returned.

Gershom did not marry until he was forty-three. On January 12, 1861 he married Grace Guedalla, Sir Moses’s niece. Two years later, Gershon passed away from an illness that today would probably be curable.

His death was noted by obituaries in Jewish newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic. London’s Jewish Chronicle remembered Gershom as an exemplary Jew “who was known in wide circles in both hemispheres; respected by those who either came into contact with him or had the opportunity of observing the rare integrity, candour, dislike of all ostentation, strength of character, and purity of motives and a most enlarged sympathy with everything that was good and noble.”4

1 The Seixas-Kursheedts and the Rise of Early American Jewry by Kenneth Libo and Abigail Kursheedt Hoffman, Bloch Publishing Company, Inc. in conjunction with the American Jewish Historical Society, 2001, page 68.
2 Ibid., pages 68-69.
3 Ibid., page 70.

4 The Seixas-Kursheedts and the Rise of Early American Jewry, pages 71-72.

Dr. Yitzchok Levine recently retired after serving for forty years as a professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey. “Glimpses Into American Jewish History” appears the first week of each month. Dr. Levine can be contacted at llevine@stevens.edu.

About the Author: Dr. Yitzchok Levine served as a professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey before retiring in 2008. He now teaches as an adjunct at Stevens. Glimpses Into American Jewish History appears the first week of each month. Dr. Levine can be contacted at llevine@stevens.edu.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Gershom Kursheedt And Sir Moses Montefiore”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Israel Envisions Regional Cooperation with Arab Nations
Latest Sections Stories

How is it possible that some of our people cannot see what I see, the miracle of the existence of the state of Israel?

Road sign in Russian and Yiddish greeting visitors on the road just outside Birobidzhan. (photo by Ben G. Frank)

Birobidzhan railway station sign is the world’s only one spelling the town’s name in Yiddish letters

Ayelet Shaked

She’s seen as a poster child for The Jewish Home’s efforts to reach beyond its Orthodox base.

Girls don’t usually learn Gemara. Everyone knows that.

Mordechai and his men shared a strong mutual loyalty.

“Can I wear tefillin in the bathroom?” That was the question US Private Nuchim Lebensohn wrote to Mike Tress, president of the Agudath Israel Youth Council, in a letter dated November 18, 1942. Lebensohn was not your typical young American GI. Polish by birth, he was forty-three years old and married when he was drafted […]

To what extent is your child displaying defiance?

This therapist kept focusing on how “I could do better,” never on how we could make the marriage work.

Mistrust that has lingered after the fiasco in Ferguson, Missouri, has edged the issue forward.

“The observance of a kosher diet is a key tenet of Judaism, and one which no state has the right to deny,” said Nathan Diament, executive director for public policy of the Orthodox Union.

Two weeks of intense learning in the classroom about Israel culminated with Yom Ha’Atzmaut. Students attended sessions with their teachers and learned about history, culture, military power, advocacy, slang, cooking, and more.

The nations of the world left the vessel to sit rotting in the water during one of the coldest winters in decades and with its starving and freezing passengers abandoned.

More Articles from Dr. Yitzchok Levine
Dr. Aaron Friedenwald

He wrote a strong defense of shechitah in which he maintained that the Jewish method of slaughter had a humanitarian influence on the Jewish people.

Dr. Aaron Friedenwald

This was a most unusual step to take in those days, given the difficulties of travel to Europe. Nonetheless, on May 1, 1860 he sailed from New York on the steamship Hammonia.

The ship’s captain apparently respected the Friedenwalds’ strict adherence to halacha because he allowed them to use his cabin for davening and other religious observances.

I happen to believe that for a couple to spend a few years in kollel is a wonderful way to start a marriage.

Penn wrote the following to a friend in England: “I found them [the Indians of the eastern shore of North America] with like countenances with the Hebrew race; and their children of so lively a resemblance to them that a man would think himself in Duke’s place, or Barry street, in London, when he sees them.”

The special charm of these letters is their immediacy and authenticity of emotion and description.

There were many who believed that some North America Indians were descended from Jews.

One might think to attribute the crudeness of the calendar to the fact that it was produced by a frontier community unable to calculate a more precise table.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/glimpses-ajh/gershom-kursheedt-and-sir-moses-montefiore/2009/02/04/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: