Last month we discussed how Rabbi Abraham Joseph Rice came to America in 1840 and became the rav of the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation (Congregation Nidchei Yisroel). Rav Rice was the first ordained Orthodox rabbi to settle in North America.
The first Jews arrived in North America in 1654. What is not so well known is that the first qualified rabbi to settle here, Rabbi Abraham Rice, did not arrive until 1840. One might refer to the first 186 years of American Jewish history as the "Reverend and Cantorial Age," since such men, as well as some laymen who possessed better than average Jewish educations, served as the leaders of the various Jewish communities during that period.
In Savannah, Georgia, there is a memorial to the American Revolution called Battlefield Memorial Park. One of the markers there is for Colonel Mordecai Sheftall.
In two earlier articles we traced the life and rabbinical career of Rabbi Simon Glazer until 1918. Rav Glazer was a rare individual in that he was a secularly educated European trained Orthodox Rov who spoke and wrote English fluently.
The first part of the life of Rabbi Simon Joshua Glazer was sketched in last month's Glimpses column. In his youth Rabbi Glazer received a first class Torah education. At the age of 18 he was ordained by Rabbi Alexander Moshe Lapidus, a lifetime friend of Rav Yisroel Salanter. In 1897 Rabbi Glazer immigrated to America where he devoted himself to mastering the English language and acquiring secular knowledge.
Virtually all of the rabbonim who came to America during the latter part of the nineteenth century did not speak English. A few did master the language and become proficient at speaking and writing it; one of these was Rabbi Simon Joshua Glazer, who did more than just learn to speak and write in English - he also acquired a substantial secular education.
In 1927 Captain N. Taylor Phillips1 delivered an address before Congregation Shearith Israel in New York in which he recalled some of the history and traditions of early New York American Jewry. His recollections give fascinating insight into Jewish religious life in America when the community was still in its infancy.
Naphtali Moses Taylor Phillips, generally known as N. Taylor Phillips, was a descendent of one of America's first Jewish families. His great-great-great grandfather, Dr. Samuel Nunes (Nunez) Ribeiro and his great-great grandmother, Zipporah were among the first group of Jews to arrive in Savannah, Georgia in 1733. Zipporah married David Mendes Machado, who served as the chazzan of Congregation Shearith Israel in New York from 1737 until his passing in 1747.
Naphtali Phillips, the ninth child of Rebecca Machado and Jonas Phillips, was born in New York on October 19, 1773. His great-grandfather was Dr. Samuel Nunes Ribeiro, an escapee from the Portuguese Inquisition1 who became one of the first Jewish settlers of Savannah, GA.2 His maternal grandparents were Zipporah Nunes and David Mendes Machado.3 David Machado also escaped from the Inquisition in Portugal and served for a number of years as the chazzan and Torah teacher of Congregation Shearith Israel in New York.
It was in 1859, according to the Central City Colorado History & Historic Facts website, that "John Gregory discovered 'The Gregory Lode' in a gulch near Central City. Within two weeks, the gold rush was on and within two months the population grew to 10,000 people seeking their fortunes.
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.
Last month's column sketched the life of Judah Touro (1775-1854), who became immensely wealthy after his move to New Orleans in 1802, using his fortune to support many causes and individuals.
"[Judah] Touro's name will always be numbered among the foremost in the annals of American philanthropy. His charities knew neither race nor creed, and his public spirit was no less noteworthy."[i]
The story of Jacob Mayer is one of the most bizarre in the annals of American Jewish history. In order to understand how such a thing could have occurred, one must keep in mind that for many years America was a Jewish free-for-all.
There are those who have the foresight to establish institutions that leave a lasting impression on Klal Yisrael. One such man was Rabbi Abraham Nachman Schwartz, who founded Yeshiva Torah ve-Emunah Hebrew Parochial School in Baltimore.
"In 1901 a few individuals who wished to give their own children an intensive Jewish Talmudical education, engaged one Hebrew teacher and one English teacher, and opened a school under the name Beth Sefer Tifereth Jerusalem (Glory of Jerusalem School).
When RJJ passed away, he was survived by his wife, Esther Rachel[i], his son Raphael, and two daughters, Mrs. Anna Brody and Mrs. S. R. Schultz.
In a recent front-page essay (May 30, 2008) and in last month's "Glimpses" column we traced the life of Rabbi Jacob Joseph (1840-1902). Rabbi Joseph, who studied in the famed Volozhiner Yeshiva, was an outstanding Talmudic scholar and one of Rav Yisroel Salanter's main students.
In "Failed Experiment: New York's Only Chief Rabbi" (front-page essay, May 30), we described the warm welcome thousands of Jews gave Rabbi Jacob Joseph when he disembarked from his ship in Hoboken, New Jersey on July 7, 1888.
Between 1881 and 1924 approximately two million Jews immigrated to the United States, primarily from Eastern Europe and Russia.
"More than a million Jewish immigrants landed on the shores of the United States between 1881 and 1905.
While the Civil War was raging at the end of 1862, General Ulysses S. Grant sent the following letter to the Assistant Secretary of War:
The Peixotto family played a prominent role in the American Jewish community during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Despite his remarkable qualifications, it became clear to Dr. Schaffer that he would not be able to obtain a rabbinical position in either Germany or Russia.
We are all aware that the Sabbath is observed on Saturday, the seventh day of the week.