web analytics
September 21, 2014 / 26 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.



Sabato Morais – Forgotten Advocate For Orthodoxy (Part Two)

Sabato Morais

Sabato Morais

(Unless otherwise indicated, all quotes are from “Dust and Ashes: The Funeral and Forgetting of Sabato Morais” by Arthur Kiron, American Jewish History 84.3 (1996) 155-188.)

Last month we sketched the life of Reverend Dr. Sabato Morais and discussed his spiritual leadership of Congregation Mikveh Israel in Philadelphia as well as his involvement in a wide range of communal activities. Here we outline some of his many other accomplishments and describe his huge funeral.

Jewish Education

Reverend Morais realized that the key to the survival of authentic Judaism was meaningful Jewish education. From 1867 through 1873 he was professor of biblical exegesis at Maimonides College. Founded in 1867 in Philadelphia by Isaac Leeser, it was the first Jewish theological seminary in America. (It lasted only six years, closing in December 1873.) He “also tutored children throughout his life, often for little or no remuneration, and regularly taught for the Hebrew Sunday School movement, started by Rebecca Gratz.”[i]

In 1886 Dr. Morais played a key role in the founding of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. (Many readers may not be aware that JTS was founded as an Orthodox institution.) “Although a certain proportion of the organizing delegates and participating rabbis belonged to the Conservative wing of Judaism, the principles of the seminary, as declared in it charter of incorporation, granted by the Legislature of the State of New York on the ninth of May, 1886, were those of uncompromising adherence to the tenets of Orthodox Judaism.”[ii]

Scholar and Writer

Morais transplanted to America a distinctive Anglo-Livornese “rabbinic humanist” outlook whose formative elements await further study. The sources of Morais’s worldview and literary interests are extraordinarily diverse, and his political views are steeped in the teachings of Mazzini and in his admiration for Abraham Lincoln…. Morais was a sensitive student of medieval Jewish philosophy (particularly that of Maimonides) and Hebrew poetry, the entire range of the Italian Jewish literary tradition, the historical studies and Hebrew writings of the nineteenth-century Galician maskil Solomon Yehudah Rapoport, and the teachings of the renowned Jewish biblical exegete from Trieste, Samuel David Luzzatto.

For halakic rulings Morais turned to Haham Abraham Baruch Piperno, his teacher and chief rabbi in Livorno. He was tutored in Semitic languages and was exposed to the wider Italian and European literary heritage by Salvatorre De Benedetti of the University of Pisa. Morais nurtured a deep love for music, particularly Italian opera, composed Hebrew poetry, and was perhaps the most outstanding Hebraist in America in the nineteenth century.

“Morais was a frequent contributor to local and regional newspapers. He was called upon regularly to deliver public lectures (in addition to his regular regimen of weekly Synagogue sermons) on a variety of subjects, addressing such topics as the prevention of cruelty to children, the prevention of cruelty to animals, the need to give to the poor and needy, and the improvement of the status of women.”[iii]

Huge Funeral

Dr. Morais was ill during the summer of 1896 but seemed to have fully recovered and served as chazzan on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in 1897. However, on Wednesday evening, November 10, he suffered a stroke and passed away on Thursday, November 11, 1897.

His funeral, which took place on November 15, was attended by thousands of Jews and non-Jews from all strata of society who wanted to pay homage to this unique Orthodox Jewish leader.

The size of the funeral and the details of the service and burial mark a historical transformation in the character of public Jewish funerals in the United States and hint at fundamental changes then underway within American Jewish communal life.

Morais’s funeral occurred five years prior to the first mass public Jewish funeral in New York City. It was an unprecedented event in Philadelphia as well as in American Jewish history and was recognized as such at the time. The Reverend Henry Pereira Mendes, leader of New York City’s most prestigious Jewish congregation, the Sephardic Shearith Israel, proclaimed that “no such minister in this country ever had such a magnificent funeral.”

The prominent New York attorney Daniel Peixotto Hays (1854-1923) movingly recorded the impact Morais’s funeral made on him:

I was so impressed by the occurrence at the funeral of the late Rev. Sabato Morais, on the fifteenth instant, that I cannot refrain from writing about it…. I refer to the ovation paid to his memory by thousands of Russian Jews for whose advancement he had worked and who remembered him as a true friend.

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 “Sabato Morais – Forgotten Advocate For Orthodoxy (Part Two)”

Comments are closed.

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/sabato-morais-forgotten-advocate-for-orthodoxy-part-two/2013/04/04/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: