web analytics
August 4, 2015 / 19 Av, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Sabato Morais: Forgotten Advocate For Orthodoxy (Part One)


Sabato Morais

Sabato Morais

 

Dr. Morais was active in virtually every civic and charitable cause in Philadelphia. However, his interests were not limited to the city in which he resided. He “carefully followed the political issues of his day both throughout the United States and around the world.” His outspoken support of President Lincoln and the North during the Civil War resulted in his receiving honorary membership in the Philadelphia Union League. He maintained his public opposition to slavery and his support of the Union in the face of extreme pressure, some of it from his own congregants.

 

Morais identified true power and authority with God, not with worldly accomplishments, political muscle, entering the public sphere or gaining public recognition. As Morais once put it, “to exercise social and domestic virtues is to serve the Lord and Redeemer.” For Morais, communal and charitable work functioned as a form of worship, a sacrificial service of the heart (Avodah). Morais followed the biblical writings he read so carefully, such as Jeremiah and Ecclesiastes, in pronouncing earthly achievements “vanities.”

…. In principle Morais objected to…political Zionism because he judged the essentially secular call for a Jewish return to the Land of Israel to be in conflict with the traditional religious doctrine that only God, not Jews, should initiate a messianic restoration. But Morais’ opposition also reflected a religious sensibility rooted in the idea that true piety involved humble submission to God’s will. Three months later, in August 1897, political Zionism was born at Basle, and three months after that Morais died.[iv]

 

“Notable among Morais’ other controversial stances as minister of Mikveh Israel was his support of the right of women to vote on all congregational issues, a policy which was adopted by vote in 1882.”

When, in 1881, thousands of Jews began immigrating to America due to pogroms taking place in Eastern Europe, it was Reverend Morais who was in the forefront of efforts to re-settle them in the United States.


[i] The New York Times, Saturday, November 13, 1897, 7.

[ii]  Ibid.

 [iii] “Dust and Ashes”: The Funeral and Forgetting of Sabato Morais, Arthur Kiron American Jewish History 84.3 (1996) 155-188.  

 [iv] Ibid.

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.

12 Responses to “Sabato Morais: Forgotten Advocate For Orthodoxy (Part One)”

  1. Charlie Hall says:

    Rabbi Morais' outspoken opposition to chattel slavery may have been unique among Orthodox rabbis in the United States at the time. Two other Orthodox rabbis in America as of 1860, Rabbi Morris Raphall in New York, and Rabbi Bernard Illowy in Baltimore (who shortly moved to New Orleans), were outspoken supporters of slavery.

  2. Charlie Hall says:

    Rabbi Morais' outspoken opposition to chattel slavery may have been unique among Orthodox rabbis in the United States at the time. Two other Orthodox rabbis in America as of 1860, Rabbi Morris Raphall in New York, and Rabbi Bernard Illowy in Baltimore (who shortly moved to New Orleans), were outspoken supporters of slavery.

  3. Jacob Alperin-Sheriff says:

    That's hardly the worst revisionism here. Sabato Morais was the founder of the Jewish Theological Seminary! (and it was absolutely taking positions even in his day that the Charedim at least would consider heretical regarding biblical analysis

  4. Jacob Alperin-Sheriff says:

    Not to mention that by today's standards, Mikveh Israel in those days wouldn't be considered Orthodox; all evidence suggests they still had a mixed choir in those days.

  5. Charlie Hall says:

    JTS was orthodox back then; its first graduate became Chief Rabbi of the UK.

    And what is wrong with mixed choirs?

  6. Jacob Alperin-Sheriff says:

    Technically nothing since any kol isha concerns should be nullified by the group singing, but I can't imagine an Orthodox synagogue having a choir today, period, much less a mixed one.

  7. Charlie Hall says:

    " I can't imagine an Orthodox synagogue having a choir today"

    http://www.jerusalemgreatsynagogue.com/EN_CantorChoir.aspx

  8. Charlie Hall says:

    "a professional choir participates in services each Friday evening and Shabbat morning, as well as on holidays"

    http://www.shearith-israel.org/folder/learning_history_new.html

  9. Charlie Hall says:

    Choirs are indeed rare in Orthodox synagogues today, but they exist in some rather important large congregations. The HIR choir doesn't sing in services as an organized group — everyone in the congregation sings in services there ;).

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Tourist injured by Muslim mob on Temple Mount on August 4, 2015
Arabs Beat Up Tourist on Temple Mount [video]
Latest Sections Stories
South-Florida-logo

An impressive group of counselors and staff members are providing the boys and girls with a summer of fun and Torah learning and a lifetime of wonderful memories.

South-Florida-logo

Rabbi Sam Intrator recently led a summer program in Williams Island, located in Aventura. The event focused on how to find spiritual joy in Judaism. The rabbi cited biblical and Talmudic teachings, ancient Temple rituals, and the words of prayers to establish the role that love and positive thinking have in Torah values. Rabbi Intrator […]

South-Florida-logo

The Iranian deal was sealed on July 14, four and a half months after Netanyahu’s visit. The details of the agreement were shocking and worse than anyone had imagined.

There are so many toys available for newborn to age 5, but how do you choose?

In 1939, with life getting harder for Jews, she and several friends decided it was time to make aliyah, and applied at the Palestina Amt for permits.

I am not sure how many of you readers have had this experience, but I did and it truly tested the limits of my sanity!

Aside from my own 485-page tome on the subject, Red Army, I think Jamie Glazov did an excellent job at framing things in United in Hate: The Left’s Romance with Tyranny and Terror.

We studied his seforim together, we listened to famous cantorial masters and we spoke of his illustrious yichus, his pedigree, dating back to the famous commentator, Rashi.

Jews who were considered, but not ultimately selected, include Woody Allen, Saul Bellow, David Ben-Gurion, Marc Chagall, Anne Frank, and Barbra Streisand.

More Articles from Dr. Yitzchok Levine
Rav S. R. Hirsch

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 […]

Levine-Dr-Yitzchok-NEW

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.”

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

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/glimpses-ajh/sabato-morais-forgotten-advocate-for-orthodoxy-part-one/2013/02/27/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: