Close your eyes, breathe in deeply, now exhale slowly… That was easy, wasn’t it? Not for everyone…
Usually Jewish history books deal with those who have made their mark by doing extraordinary things. While such people obviously are important, there are those who may not have enjoyed much fame yet whose efforts and accomplishments were crucial to maintaining Yahadus in their community. Two such men are Henry S. Hartogensis and his son, Benjamin H. Hartogensis, who devoted their lives to the Jewish community of Baltimore.
Henry S. Hartogensis 1
Henry S. Hartogensis was born on the first day of Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan, October 27, 1829, in Hertogenbosch, the capital of Noord Brabant Province in the Catholic southeastern Netherlands. On his father’s side he was descended from the distinguished Rabbi Aryeh Loeb ben Chaim (Breslau), whose authorization of the Rodelheim Machzor is printed on the back page of the Heidenheim edition. His father was a well-known philanthropist, scholar and banker, and was referred to as “Rabbi Samuel,” despite the fact that he refused to let others consider him a rabbi. On his mother’s side he was descended from the well-known Lewyt family.
Nineteen-year-old Henry immigrated in 1848 to Baltimore via New York City to “earn a living” and escape the “financial crash owing to the impending French revolution.” He first started a stationery and printing firm and later owned a large sporting goods store on East Baltimore Street. In 1849 he married a fellow Hollander, Rachel de Wolff, daughter of Jacob who had arrived in the 1830s. In the 1850s Henry’s younger brother Eleazar (Edward) joined the growing family and worked as a clothier. After marrying he moved to Washington, D.C., opened a “dry goods emporium,” and established that branch of the family.In religion, the Hartogensis brothers were strictly Orthodox. Edward helped found the Adas Israel Congregation in Washington and taught in its religious school. Henry frequently officiated as hazan at Baltimore Hebrew [Congregation] until the majority espoused Reform in 1870. He led the minority to start the Chizuk Amuno Congregation in 1871 and served as secretary for twenty years. He also helped fund and erect its new synagogue in 1876, located on Lloyd Street only a few doors from its nemesis, Baltimore Hebrew. When Chizuk Amuno moved uptown in 1892, Hartogensis financed a new Ashkenazic synagogue, Zichron Jacob, located near his home on Baltimore Street, where he served as president, hazan, and “chief mainstay (financial and otherwise).” Earlier, in 1887 Congregation Oheb Shalom’s Society for the Education of the Poor elected him as its secretary.
From 1904 until his death [in 1918], Hartogensis affiliated with Shearith Israel Congregation, which remained an ultra-Orthodox synagogue for a century. Again he served as reader at services and was much honored by the congregation.
Henry took an active part in communal and fraternal organizations, both Jewish and non-sectarian alike. For over 40 years he was involved with the Society for the Education of Poor and Orphaned Hebrew Children (Hebrew Education Society), serving at one time as its director and later as treasurer. He was the manager of the Hebrew Free Burial Society for a quarter of a century and in this capacity attended all funerals, and performed many acts of kindness to the living as well as the dead.
Following a lengthy vacation in the Netherlands in 1890, Hartogensis wrote a report for the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent extolling the virtues of Dutch religious Orthodoxy. Despite their achievements in the arts and literature, in sciences and statecraft, which “compares favorably with the best Israelites of other countries,” Hartogensis boasted, “nowhere have I seen ‘orthodoxy’ so triumphant.” The Dutch had no use for “modern innovations to devotion – viz. the family pew, the organ, the mixed choirs mainly composed of Christians, the mutilation of the prayer-book, and the desecration of the holidays. What we call ‘conservative’ congregations,” Hartogensis added, “are unknown to Holland Jews.” Despite the rising materialism of the young, he concluded with satisfaction, there “are not enough of them in the whole country to form a ‘Reform’ congregation.”
Henry S. Hartogensis passed away on December 25, 1918 leaving behind a wonderful shem tov.
Benjamin H. Hartogensis 2
Henry and Rachel Hartogensis had seven children, several of whom led prominent lives. The most notable of their offspring was Benjamin (April 19, 1865 – July 13, 1939).
Benjamin graduated Johns Hopkins University in 1886. He spent the following year doing graduate work at Hopkins and worked for a short time as an analytic chemist. In 1887 he became the associate editor of the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent, serving in this capacity for 12 years. From 1890 to 1896 he also served as one of the editors of the Baltimore American. While engaged in this work, Benjamin studied law at the University of Maryland from 1892 to 1893, earning a law degree.
In December 1893 he was admitted to the bar and three years later began to actively practice law. Benjamin was also the founder and president of the Baltimore branch of the Alliance Israelite Universelle and served as president of the Hebrew Education Society of Baltimore for a number of years. Furthermore, he took an avid interest in the Jewish history of Baltimore and wrote several articles that appeared in the Proceedings of the American Jewish Historical Society.
Staunch devotion to Judaism and Americanism characterized the life and works of Benjamin Henry Hartogensis. As an American, he trenchantly searched for deviations from religious liberty to set them aright. As a Jew, he vigorously maintained unswerving loyalty to the faith and traditions of his fathers, which he sought to perpetuate through education.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Comments are closed.
Even when our prayers are ignored and troubles confront us, Rabbi Shoff teaches that it is the same God who sent the difficulties as who answered our prayers before.
I’ve put together some of the most frequently asked questions regarding bullies, friendship and learning disabilities.
His parents make it clear that they feel the right thing is for Avi to visit his grandfather, but they leave it up to him.
Orna Porat was a former Christian and a member of the Hitler Youth.
There is a rich Jewish history in this part of the world. Now the hidden customs are being revealed, as many seek to reconnect with their roots.
There are times when a psychiatrist will over-medicate, which is why it’s important to find a psychiatrist whom you trust and feel comfortable with.
On November 22, 1963, Abraham Zapruder created one of the most famous, and valuable, pieces of film and became forever linked with one of the greatest American national tragedies when he stood with his camera on an elevated concrete abutment as President John F. Kennedy’s motorcade passed through Dealey Plaza in Dallas. Exhibited here is […]
“Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength – carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” – Corrie ten Boom I’ve been thinking a lot about worrying. Anxiety is an issue close to my heart – […]
Upon meeting the Zionist delegation, General Wu, a recent convert to Christianity, said, “You are my spiritual brothers.
With the assistance of Mr. Tress, Private Moskowitz tried tirelessly to become an army chaplain.
Dr. Yael Respler is taking a well-deserved vacation this week and asked Eilon Even-Esh to share some thoughts with her readers in her stead.
The student followers of the Malach stood in direct opposition to his philosophy and to the standards of the yeshiva.
Last month we outlined how a few years after Judah Touro’s death a public movement was inaugurated by the citizens of New Orleans to erect a monument to his memory, and that opposition to this tribute came from a number of rabbis throughout the country who claimed that Judaism forbade the erection of any graven […]
After his marriage he was successfully engaged in the lumber business.
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.
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.”
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/glimpses-ajh/henry-s-and-benjamin-h-hartogensis/2012/05/02/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: