web analytics
April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Sabato Morais – Forgotten Advocate For Orthodoxy (Part Two)

Sabato Morais

Sabato Morais

Share Button

(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.

Share Button

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.

No Responses to “Sabato Morais – Forgotten Advocate For Orthodoxy (Part Two)”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Flyers ordered Jews to appear at a designated location in Ukrane, in Sept., 1941. The next day, the Jews lined up at the Babi Yar Ravine.
‘Jews Must Register’ Flyer in Ukraine an Echo of Babi Yar
Latest Sections Stories
Schonfeld-logo1

Regardless of age, parents play an important role in their children’s lives.

Marriage-Relationship-logo

We peel away one layer after the next, our eyes tear up and it becomes harder and harder to see as we get closer to our innermost insecurities and fears.

Gorsky-041814-Torah

Some Mountain Jews believe they are descendents of the Ten Lost Tribes and were exiled to Azerbaijan and Dagestan by Sancheriv.

Baim-041814-Piggy

Yom Tov is about spending time with your family. And while for some families the big once-in-a-lifetime experience is great, for others something low key is the way to go.

A fascinating glimpse into the rich complexity of medieval Jewish life and its contemporary relevance had intriguingly emerged.

Dear Dr. Yael:

My heart is breaking; my husband’s friend has gotten divorced. While this type of situation is always sad, here I do believe it could have been avoided.

The plan’s goal is to provide supportive housing to 200 individuals with disabilities by the year 2020.

Despite being one of the fastest-growing Jewish communities in the U.S. – the estimated Jewish population is 70-80,000 – Las Vegas has long been overlooked by much of the Torah world.

She was followed by the shadows of the Six Million, by the ever so subtle awareness of their vanished presence.

Pesach is so liberating (if you excuse the expression). It’s the only time I can eat anywhere in the house, guilt free! Matzah in bed!

Now all the pain, fear and struggle were over and they were home. Yuli was safe and free, a hero returned to his land and people.

While it would seem from his question that he is being chuzpadik and dismissive, I wonder if its possible, if just maybe, he is a struggling, confused neshama who actually wants to come back to the fold.

I agree with the letter writer that a shadchan should respectfully and graciously accept a negative response to a shidduch offer.

Alternative assessments are an extremely important part of understanding what students know beyond the scope of tests and quizzes.

More Articles from Dr. Yitzchok Levine
Levine-Dr-Yitzchok-NEW

“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.

The President having signed the Treaty of the Geneva Conference and the Senate having, on the 16th instant, ratified the President’s actions, the American Association of the Red Cross, organized under provisions of said treaty, purposes to send its agents at once among the sufferers by the recent floods, with a view to the ameliorating of their condition so far as can be done by human aid and the means at hand will permit. Contributions are urgently solicited.

Last month’s column sketched the myriad of social programs in which the Orthodox American communal worker and leader Adolphus S. Solomons (1826-1910) was involved. Adolphus married Rachel Seixas Phillips (1828-1881), a descendant of colonial patriot families and together they had eight daughters and a son.

There are many observant Jews who contributed much to secular and Jewish life in America and yet have, unfortunately, been essentially forgotten. One such man is Adolphus Simson Solomons (1826-1910).

Cholera was officially recognized to be of epidemic proportions in New York City on June 26, 1832. The epidemic was at its peak in July and 3,515 out of a population of about 250,000 died. (The equivalent death toll in today’s city of eight million would exceed 100,000.) Sadly, in 1832 there were no effective treatments available for those who contracted this disease.

As this is our third column on the Reverend Dr. Henry Pereira Mendes, we’ll begin with a summary of his life.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

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: