web analytics
September 22, 2014 / 27 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Jonas Phillips: Patriotic Colonial Jewish Businessman

(All quotes are fromPortraits Etched in Stone: Early Jewish Settlers, 1682 – 1831” by David de Sola Pool, Columbia University Press, New York, 1952.)

 

Last month we sketched the life of the Orthodox Jewish businessman Jonas Phillips who came to America in 1756. Jonas and his family first resided in New York and then moved to Philadelphia in either 1772 or 1773.

Pillar of Congregation Mikve Israel

“While in Philadelphia, Phillips was active in the affairs of its Jewish community. The Revolution brought there a large access of numbers from New York and elsewhere, and he was one of the committee which in March, 1782, was charged with purchasing the ground for a new and larger synagogue. With his payment…he was far and away the largest contributor towards the cost of the new synagogue building, with the exception of Haym Salomon…. One of the cornerstones of the new building was laid by him and one by Isaac Moses in September of that year. At the following meeting of the congregation he was elected its president. He had the honor of serving as president when the synagogue was consecrated, and on that occasion he presented to the congregation a scroll of the Torah and ‘made his Sephar Holy.’

“He had been one of those who had signed the memorial sent to the president, vice-president, and council of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania asking for their approval of the opening of the synagogue, and it was he who wrote to General George Washington the letter inviting him to attend the dedication ceremonies.

“He was one of the most if not the most active of the members of that reorganized Philadelphia congregation. On the first day of Rosh Hashanah he would chant the haftarah, the prophetic reading, and on the second day the early morning Psalms, zemiroth. On the Day of Atonement it was he of the name of Jonas who would read the Book of Jonah, the reading from the prophets on the afternoon of that day, and on Hoshaana Rabbah he would read the Selihoth, the most important part of the service. His offerings to the congregation remained outstandingly generous…. The next year, however, they dropped…a reduction perhaps indicating not an impairment of his prosperity but a falling out with the synagogue authorities.”

Letter Asking Guarantee of Religious Freedom

In 1787 Jonas wrote a letter to Congress asking that the federal Constitution guarantee religious liberty in the state of Pennsylvania. He did not know that three weeks earlier it had been agreed upon that no religious test should ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States. The following are excerpts from that letter (with Phillips’s original spelling):

 

I…being one of the people called Jews of the City of Philadelphia, a people scattered & dispersed among all nations do behold with Concern that among the laws in the Constitution of Pennsylvania, there is a Clause [that reads] I do believe in one God the Creatur and governor of the universe and Rewarder of the good & the punisher of the wicked – and I do acknowledge the Scriptures of the old & New testament to be given by divine inspiration…. [T]o swear & believe that the new testiment was given by divine inspiration is absolutely against the Religious principle of a Jew, and is against his Conscience to take any such oath – By the above law a Jew is deprived of holding any publick office or place of Government which is a Contridictory to the bill of Right Sect 2….That all men have a natural & unalienable Right to worship almighty God according to the dictates of their own Conscience and understanding & that no man ought or of Right can be Compelled to attend any Religious Worship or Creed or support any place of worship or Maintain any minister contrary to or against his own free will and Consent, nor can any man who acknowledges the being of a God be Justly deprived or abridged of any Civil Right as a Citizen on account of his Religious sentiments or peculiar mode of Religious Worship….

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.

One Response to “Jonas Phillips: Patriotic Colonial Jewish Businessman”

  1. Can I pretend we’re related without being sure?? Shemaya Shilo Phillips ;-)

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
ISIS seized control of Quneitra, at least temporarily, towards the end of August 2014.
Israel Watching Northern Border with Syria, Lebanon
Latest Sections Stories
Calmer Times. Breslov chassidim on erev Rosh Hashanah in 2012 at the grave of Rav Nachman in Uman.

As optimistic as Menachem Rosenberg is – and he said he is going to Uman – he’s sure that this year, most of the travelers will not tour other religious sites or places in Ukraine.

Three sets of three-day Yomim Tovim can seem overwhelming – especially when we are trying to stay healthy.

Plotkin-092614

Is a missed opportunity to do a mitzvah considered a sin?

Teens-Twenties-logo

The sounds and scents of the kitchen are cozy, familiar, but loud in the silence.

Everyone has a weakness. For some people it is the inability to walk past a sales rack without dropping a few hundred dollars. For others, it’s the inability to keep their house organized.

Not enjoying saying no, I often succumbed to requests viewing them as demands I couldn’t refuse.

His entire life was dedicated to Torah and he became a pivotal figure in the transmittal of the Oral Torah to the next generation.

When you don’t have anyone else to turn to… that’s when you’re tied to Hashem the closest.

While we all go to restaurants for a good meal, it is dessert, that final taste that lingers in your mouth, that is the crown jewel of any dining experience and Six Thirteen’s offerings did not disappoint.

Today, fifty years and six million (!) people later, Israel is truly a different world.

There will always be items that don’t freeze well – salads and some rice- or potato-based dishes – so you need to leave time to prepare or cook them closer to Yom Tov and ensure there is enough room in the refrigerator to store them.

In Uzbekistan, in the early twentieth century, it was the women who wore the pants.

This is an important one in raising a mentsch (and maybe even in marrying off a mentsch! listening skills are on the top of the list when I do shidduch coaching).

More Articles from Dr. Yitzchok Levine

In 1787 Jonas wrote a letter to Congress asking that the federal Constitution guarantee religious liberty in the state of Pennsylvania.

Jonas Phillips

Like many of his contemporaries, he went through some hard years, but eventually he earned the rewards of his perseverance and integrity.

These letters give us the privilege of knowing him in his old age when he is mellow, tempered in his judgments, and sagacious from long experience of dealing with people.

The British evacuated New York on November 25, 1783, and Congress demobilized the American army shortly thereafter.

“Simple, modest, altogether unassuming, Gershom spent his happiest hours with his ever-growing family who were never far from his thoughts.

“Attuned to the ideal of establishing a new Zion in free America, they named their new colony Palestine.

Last month’s column outlined some efforts during the first half of the nineteenth century to establish Jewish agricultural colonies in America. In only one case was a colony actually established.

There were very few Jewish farmers in Europe during the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Indeed, in many parts of Europe Jews were forbidden to own land. Despite this there were some Jews who always felt they should return to the agrarian way of life their forefathers had pursued in ancient times, and that America was an ideal place to establish Jewish agricultural colonies.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/glimpses-ajh/jonas-phillips-patriotic-colonial-jewish-businessman/2014/09/03/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: