web analytics
April 19, 2015 / 30 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Reverend Henry Pereira Mendes: Orthodox Stalwart (Part I)

Reverend Henry Pereira Mendes

Reverend Henry Pereira Mendes

On October 15, 1890, Henry married Rosalie Rebecca Piza, daughter of Samuel and Rachel Piza of St. Thomas, Danish West Indies. Mrs. Pereira Mendes was known for her social grace and ceaseless spiritual striving.

“In the early days of their married life before her health became impaired, she was active in work for young Jewish working girls and in the Shearith Israel Sisterhood. She and Dr. Mendes traveled much, especially after his retirement. The highlight of their years abroad was their stay in the Holy Land. In her widowhood, the memory of this markedly strengthened her inward life and intellectual growth, even in old age. She became a stalwart defender of Zion, and until the end an avid reader of all that concerned Israel.”[i]

In his capacity as spiritual leader of Congregation Shearith Israel, Reverend Mendes conducted classes and gave lectures on a wide range of topics including Bible, Jewish history, Hebrew, Jewish literature, and other topics related to Judaism. This teaching, infused with inspiration and compassion, reflected his broad intellectual abilities.

“It is impossible to record the untiring affectionate personal service which Dr. Mendes at all times gave to the members of his congregation in joy and in sorrow. His tenderness of nature, vivid sympathy, deep spirituality and firm faith, made him an inspiration to the bride and bridegroom under the canopy, and a stay of strength to those stricken by bereavement. He was a spiritual father to two generations in his congregation. However occupied or weary he might be, no call ever found him other than ready to respond. In his life he exemplified the religious ideals which week by week he voiced from the pulpit. He never accepted for himself fees or emoluments for services which he rendered. At first he would return such gifts, but later he adopted the practice of accepting them for charitable distribution.

“As preacher, he maintained the highest standard, never stooping to sensationalism, nor lowering the loftiness of Jewish teaching in order to gain an easy popularity.

“Gifted with a clear and ringing voice of unusually sympathetic quality, a chaste precision of diction, and a rich and poetic vocabulary, his emotional and hortatory messages rose to the heights of true oratory. This, together with the transparent sincerity of the man behind the word, gave to his public speaking a moving power which has charged unnumbered lives with beauty, strength and idealism. The Bible which he loved so well was the constant source of his inspiration. It lived in his life, and he made it live in the life of his auditors. It touched him with the divine fire of the prophets. To him it spoke in the clear illuminating tones of ‘Thus saith the Lord.’ In its pages he found the message of the word of God. Its themes on which he loved to dwell were idealism, the three R’s of Reverence, Righteousness and Responsibility, peace, prayer, and, always, God.

“As teacher of homiletics in the Yeshiva Isaac Elchanan, from 1917 to 1920, he helped to set the stamp of this distinguished tradition on the orthodox Jewish pulpit in this country.”

Reverend Pereira Mendes’s activities were not confined to his role as chazzan and preacher at Shearith Israel. Next month’s column will deal with some of his myriad activities on behalf of the Jewish community in America.



[i] An Old Faith in the New World – Portrait of Shearith Israel, 1654-1954 by David and Tamar De Sola Pool, Columbia University Press, 1955.

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 “Reverend Henry Pereira Mendes: Orthodox Stalwart (Part I)”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Said Arikat, al-Quds Washington, D.C. reporter. Jan. 29, 2015
More PA Lobbying from the State Dept Briefing Room
Latest Sections Stories
Lewis-041715-Jewish-Soldiers

During the Second World War, a million and a half Jewish soldiers fought in the Allied armies, the Partisan units in Eastern Europe, and the anti-fascist underground movements in Western Europe and North Africa. These Jewish fighters won over 200,000 medals and citations. The Museum of the Jewish Soldier in World War II in Latrun, […]

Jerusalem Heights Penthouse

The 2-day real estate event will take place in Brooklyn on April 26 and 27.

Schonfeld-logo1

She wasn’t paying attention to what the child did when the mother was not in the room. Rather, her main focus was on what the child did when the mother returned.

The Mets at least have hope for the future with some good young pitchers.

French thinkers of the Enlightenment were generally not pro-Semitic, to say the least.

My Jewish star was battered, indeed it was a wreck
But I picked it up anyway and put it around my neck
To know that hatred mangled it was surely very painful
But just the same to me it is still very beautiful.

A compulsion is a repetitive action. But what underlies the compulsion is an obsession or fear.

When any student in the building is in danger of failing, the equivalent of tornado warning sirens should wail around the school.

It goes without saying that when it comes to your kids, safety is always your number one priority.

After the last of Austria’s Jews were murdered, Albert confiscated whatever Jewish property remained.

How can you expect people who go through such gehenom to even know how to give warmth and love?

More Articles from Dr. Yitzchok Levine
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.

Glimpses-030615

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.

“Throughout his life, he observed Tisha B’Ab as the Nahalah (anniversary) for all of his relatives who were murdered, as this is the national Jewish day of mourning.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/glimpses-ajh/reverend-henry-pereira-mendes-orthodox-stalwart-part-i/2013/07/03/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: