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September 30, 2014 / 6 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Yitzchok Levine’

Abraham Rice: The First Rabbi In America (Part II)

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

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.
Not long after Rabbi Rice became the spiritual leader of Nidchei Yisroel, he faced opposition from those who wanted to introduce various reforms. In 1842, some of those who felt Rav Rice was too extreme in his insistence on maintaining halachic standards left his congregation and founded the Har Sinai Verein (Society). The first Rosh Hashanah services held by this congregation featured hymns sung to the accompaniment of an organ. This temple became the first lasting Reform congregation in America.

The founding of the Har Sinai Verein marked the beginning of the emergence of the Reform movement as a major force among American Jewry during the nineteenth century. The Reform movement eventually launched an all out attack on traditional Judaism, and Rabbi Rice became an eloquent defender of Orthodoxy.

 

His most unique contribution, however, was his defense of Orthodox Judaism in America. Where there were so few real scholars, it was easy for pseudo-intellectuals to misinterpret the basic principles of Jewish theology and thus pave the way for the spokesmen of Reform Judaism. This state of affairs was very painful to Rabbi Rice, and he went out of his way to challenge these “erroneous doctrines” as he called them, and to set the record straight .1

            As one of the few Orthodox rabbis in America, [Rabbi] Rice emerged as an important defender of tradition in the face of religious Reform. Criticizing Reform clergy, [Rabbi] Rice excommunicated Isaac M. Wise, a leading Reform clergyman, for questioning aspects of the traditional Jewish belief of messiah and resurrection. While his polemics against Reform failed to curtail the growth of Reform Judaism in America, his remarks reflected the concerns of Orthodox Jews regarding the preservation of Jewish tradition in America.2

 

Rabbi Rice became a close friend of Isaac Leeser, the Philadelphia chazzan who was in the forefront of everything Orthodox in the United States during the nineteenth century.3 In addition to writing articles that Chazzan Leeser published in his monthly Occident and Jewish Advocate, Rabbi Rice urged him to undertake an authoritative English translation of the Bible, pointing out that the German translations then available did not appeal to the English-speaking Jewish youth of America. The result was a magnificent piece of work written in accordance with Orthodox Judaism that became a standard for decades.

 

Leading Posek

Rabbi Rice was one of the few men in America during the mid-nineteenth century qualified to deal with halachic issues. He received inquiries from Jewish communities throughout the country on many matters. Given his personal modesty, he was reluctant to assume responsibility for making decisions on important religious matters. He realized, however, that the people had virtually no one else to turn to.
His detailed responsa were written in the typical style of the poskim of his time. Asked about the use of West Indian esrogim, he replied in the affirmative. He dealt with the kashrus of the food additive shortening and the oils used in its manufacture; the proper way to write gittin in U.S. cities where a get had never been written before; the drawing of blood from animals immediately before shechita (this was thought at the time to have a beneficial effect on the meat), and many other issues.

Rabbi Rice was instrumental in the creation of what became known as the Lloyd Street Synagogue. Completed in 1845, it was the first Jewish house of worship built in Maryland. Isaac Leeser, who was present at the synagogue’s dedication, described in detail the synagogue as well as the dedication ceremonies. He wrote in part:

 

We will merely state for the information of our readers who doubtlessly feel an interest in the completion of the first house ever erected especially for our worship in Maryland, that its Eastern Front is ornamental with a Doric portico, through which is the entrance into the main building. A flight of steps on each side leads into the gallery which runs along the west, north and south sides. The main body is divided into two aisles, furnished with pews, in place of open seats, which struck us as something unusual in our Synagogues.

The ark is a semi-circle, reached by a flight of steps of the same form, on the plan of the Synagogues in New York. Over the ark is a circular window laid out in the shape of the so-called “Shield of David” [Magen Dovid] furnished with colored glass of various tints.4

 

The synagogue contained a mikveh as well as an oven for baking matzos.

Problems, Resignation, and Return

   The new synagogue proved to be both a blessing and a curse. It attracted people who were influenced by the Reform movement. At first these people demanded some minor innovations, but, as time went on, they pushed for more and more changes. There were constant conflicts and dissensions.
Rabbi Rice refused to compromise when it came to halacha. He viewed minor attempts to introduce ritual changes as the first steps on the path toward a total break with Orthodoxy, and he was not wrong.5 In 1849 things got so bad that, much to the shock of many synagogue members, he resigned as spiritual leader of the congregation. “I resigned because as a private citizen I expect to have greater influence with my congregation. And I shall always be ready to fight the battle of the Lord.’ “6
Despite the fact that Rabbi Rice no longer held a formal rabbinical position, he continued to have considerable influence over Baltimore Jewish life due to his religious scholarship and piety.
“In 1851 he organized a small congregation where he officiated as rabbi and chazzan without compensation and where he felt spiritually at home. The group consisted of a number of pious and learned people who venerated their teacher and appreciated his piety and his dedication to the study of Torah.”7

In 1862 the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation found itself without a rabbi, and Rav Rice was asked to again become its spiritual leader. He agreed, but refused half the $1,000 yearly salary the congregation offered him. Unfortunately, he did not serve very long in this position, since he passed away on October 29, 1862.

 

Legacy

. Abraham Rice’s place in the history of American Judaism is secure. The courage and dauntlessness with which he defended the principles of historic Judaism give him a unique place among the pioneers of Orthodoxy in America. His consistent and uncompromising stand in matters of Jewish theology were the strongest factor in stemming the tide of Reform. His devotion to the study of Torah and his depth of talmudic learning made it possible for [halachic] Judaism to gain a foothold on American soil, where for centuries Jewish life was spiritually barren and Torahless. His dedication to Jewish education and his personal instruction of many a youth in this community were responsible for a new generation of enlightened laymen to be raised up who changed the entire physiognomy and religious climate of the Jewish community of Baltimore.8

 

1 “Rabbi Abraham Rice of Baltimore, Pioneer of Orthodox Judaism in America” by Israel Tabak, Tradition, 7, 1965, page 111.
2Orthodox Judaism in America, A Biographical Dictionary and Sourcebook, byMoshe D. Sherman, Greenwood Press, 1996, page 17.
3 See “Isaac Leeser: Architect of Traditional Judaism in America” by Yitzchok Levine, front-page essay, The Jewish Press, June 22, 2007
4 Occident, Volume III, N. 8, November, 1845, pages 362-363. The entire article is available at www.jewish-history.com/Occident/volume3/nov1845/baltimore.html 
5 The Lloyd Street Synagogue eventually became a Reform temple. The building was later sold to St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church (1889-1905), one of the first Lithuanian “ethnic” parishes in the U.S. Between 1905-1963, it was occupied by Shomrei Mishmeres HaKodesh, one of the leading Orthodox congregations of the East European immigrant community. The building was restored from 1963 to 1965, and is no longer used as a place of worship, but open as a historic site. www.nps.gov/nr/travel/baltimore/b30.htm 
6 Tabak, page 108.
7 Ibid.,  page 110.

8 Ibid., page 119.

 

 

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.

N. Taylor Phillips: Scion Of One Of America’s First Jewish Families

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

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.

Zipporah’s daughter Rebecca married Jonas Phillips in 1762. Jonas was a member of the Philadelphia county militia during the Revolutionary War and at one time was employed by Congregation Shearith Israel of New York as a shochet. Their son Naphtali Phillips was a grandfather of N. Taylor Phillips. (One should not confuse the grandfather, Naphtali Phillips, with the grandson, Naphtali Moses Taylor Phillips.).

In 1796 it was Naphtali Phillips who took the first copy of George Washington’s farewell address that came off the press of the American Advertiser, a leading Philadelphia newspaper. In 1848 this document was placed in the cornerstone of the Washington Monument in our nation’s capital.

On July 5, 1797, Naphtali Phillips married Rachel Hannah, daughter of Moses Mendez Seixas, a prominent Newport, Rhode Island, merchant and banker and a brother of Gershom Mendez Seixas, known as “the patriotic Jewish minister of the American Revolution.”

[Naphtali] Phillips always took a deep interest in the affairs of the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue Shearith Israel. He was its President as early as the year 1816 and served for fourteen terms in that office. He was also trustee of the congregation for many years; his entire official service covering a period of long over half a century. He was for many years prominent in the affairs of the Democratic party in New York City and served on many political committees.1

On June 16, 1812, Rachel Hannah gave birth to her fifth child, Isaac. Isaac Phillips would go on to serve as president of Congregation Shearith Israel.

He [Isaac Phillips] was one of the founders of Mount Sinai Hospital and was the last surviving member of the charter board. He was, according to the strictest sect, an Orthodox Jew until the day of his death. His first wife dying in 1855, he married in 1856 Miss Miriam Trimble [1839-1882], a Gentile, who became a convert to Judaism before her marriage.2

Miriam Trimble Phillips gave birth to N. Taylor on December 5, 1868.

Naphtali Moses Taylor Phillips attended Columbia Grammar School and then Columbia University, from which he graduated in 1886 at the age of 18 with the degree of LL.B. At 21 he was admitted to the bar of the Supreme Court of NY, and three years later to the bar of the United States Supreme Court. He held various political offices. He was a member of the New York State legislature (1898-1901), serving on the judiciary and other committees and as a member of the Joint Statutory Revision Commission of that body (1900). He served as deputy comptroller of the City of New York from 1902 to 1910. Mr. Phillips was a leader in Democratic politics for many years.

As a result of his distinguished lineage, N. Taylor was a member of the Sons of the American Revolution. On March 9, 1892, he married Rosalie Solomons, daughter of Adolphus S. Solomons and Rachel Mendez Seixas Phillips Solomons. Rosalie was active in Jewish affairs as well as in politics. She served as Tammany co-leader of the Seventh Assembly District, from 1918-1939 and passed away in 1946 at the age of 79.

One of the outstanding characteristics of Naphtali Phillips was a phenomenal memory through which he consistently endeavored to carry on the traditions he inherited from the past. It was this loyalty to his American and Jewish family traditions which stimulated his enduring interest in the American Jewish Historical Society. He was one of its founders, and a director of it since 1893. For many years he was its treasurer, and later its honorary vice-president. In its Publications there are printed no less than ten articles from his pen, several of which characteristically tell the story of families of his American forebears from Colonial times, while others are centered on historical aspects of New York’s Congregation Shearith Israel with which ancestors of his had been prominently associated for over two centuries.

This conscious identification with his past made him one of the leading spirits fifty years ago in organizing and making effective the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary celebration of the settlement of the Jews in this country. It was also expressed by his being a life member of the New York Historical Society.

When the United States entered the first World War, N. Taylor Phillips, a Son of the American Revolution, was determined in his generation also to give military service to his country. At the time he was nearly fifty years of age, and he found difficulty in being accepted in the armed forces. But he persisted in his purpose and eventually he was able to enter the army. He became a captain and served in Washington throughout the war.

His loyalty to the past was expressed most penetratingly through his synagogue. He loved it passionately. N. Taylor Phillips served as its president for eight years.

In 1897 when Congregation Shearith Israel dedicated its present synagogue building, it was N. Taylor Phillips who wrote a valuable history of the congregation as his grandfather Naphtali Phillips had done three generations earlier. This was published in the Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society and in the American Hebrew. In the fall of 1954 when he was eighty-five years old he was one of the two men who opened the doors of the synagogue for its solemn service of reconsecration at the beginning of the national tercentenary celebration of the settlement of the Jews in the United States, just as almost a century earlier his grandfather, Naphtali Phillips, then eighty-seven years of age, had formally opened the doors for the dedication of the newly built synagogue of the congregation on Nineteenth Street.

He would chant the Book of Jonah in the afternoon service of the Day of Atonement. He did this with special love because he knew that his great-grandfather, Jonas Phillips, had similarly chanted the Book of Jonah in the synagogue at the time of the Revolution. His seat in the synagogue was in the same position in the present synagogue as that of his father and grandfather in the earlier synagogue of the congregation.

In all such ways he deeply cherished the historic traditions of his fathers. It was this loyalty which made him so constant and so devoted a member of the American Jewish Historical Society for nearly two-thirds of a century from its foundation in 1892.3

N. Taylor Phillips passed away on April 30, 1955 at the age of 87. He was considered the Phillips family’s unofficial historian and published many articles about the history of the Jews of New York during the 17th and 18th centuries.

 

1″Naphtali Phillips,”Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society (1893-1961); 1913; 21, AJHS Journal. page 172 ff. (Available at www.ajhs.org/reference/adaje.cfm.)

2 Obituary of Isaac Phillips, The New York Times, August 6, 1889.

3″Necrology N. Taylor Phillips 1868-1955″ byD. De Solo Pool, Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society (1893-1961); Sep 1955-Jun 1956; 45, 1-4; AJHS Journal, pages 64- 66. (Available at www.ajhs.org/reference/adaje.cfm.)

 

 

Dr. Yitzchok Levine recently retired after serving for forty years as a professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey. “Glimpses Into American Jewish History” appears the first week of each month. Dr. Levine can be contacted at llevine@stevens.edu.

Gershom Kursheedt And Sir Moses Montefiore

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009
           Unless otherwise indicated, all quotations are from “Some Relations of Gershom Kursheedt and Sir Moses Montefiore” by D. DeSola Pool, Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society (1893-1961); 1947; 37, AJHS Journal, page 213 & ff, available at http://www.ajhs.org/reference/adaje.cfm.

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.

 

In his will Touro left his friend Kursheedt $10,000 and appointed him one of his three executors. Among Kursheedt’s duties in this connection was that of making effective Touro’s legacy of $50,000 to secure the Jews of the Holy Land “the inestimable privilege of worshipping the Almighty according to our religion, without molestation.” Sir Moses Montefiore was given discretionary powers “to promote the aforesaid objects.”

Judah Touro passed away on January 13, 1854. Later that year Gershom went to England to meet with Sir Moses to plan how they would carry out Touro’s wishes. An entry in the daily diary Lady Montefiore kept for her husband, dated August 5, 1854, reads:

Mr. Gershon [sic] Kursheedt, one of the executors of the late Juda [sic] Touro, of New Orleans, arrived to arrange with Sir Moses about the legacy of fifty thousand dollars left at his disposal for the purpose of relieving the poor Israelites in the Holy Land in such manner as Sir Moses should advise.

Sir Moses, at the first interview he had with this gentleman, suggested that the money should be employed in building a hospital in Jerusalem. Mr. Kursheedt immediately assented . He was most happy, as it settled the principal business he had in England; the co-executors had given him full power to agree to any plan Sir Moses should propose.

On April 25, 1855 Gershom, together with Sir Moses and Lady Montefiore, left for a trip to Palestine with the intention of laying the groundwork for building the proposed hospital. The journey was certainly arduous.

The visas on Gershom Kursheedt’s passport help us trace their journey over Europe by way of Calais, Hanover, Cologne, Dresden, Prague, Vienna, Trieste, Corfu and Constantinople. There they had to wait to get letters and permits from the Sultan and the firman for building the hospital. Finally, on July 18, 1855, they arrived in Jerusalem, where they were given a royal welcome. About a month later, on August 15, 1855, in the presence of a numerous concourse of spectators of various religious denominations, they laid the foundation stone of the proposed hospital and planned the Touro almshouses.

Gershom eventually returned to England and in November of 1855 sailed for America. In April 1856 Sir Moses wrote to Gershom, “It must be a great happiness to you to know that with your great influence with the late Mr. Touro, Peace to his Soul, you have been the means of directing the eyes and hearts of many of our Brethren towards the Holy Land and contributing to the welfare of our coreligionists now dwelling in that land of our Fathers.”1

In 1857 Gershom returned to England and joined Lord and Lady Montefiore on another trip to the Holy Land.

This time they traveled to Jerusalem via Naples, Messina, Malta, Alexandria, and Jaffa. Upon arriving in Jerusalem, they found that the Rothschilds had built a hospital there the preceding year. At the suggestion of the rabbis of Jerusalem, it was decided to use the Touro money instead for the erection of almshouses for “persons of excellent character, men as well learned in our law.” So beganplans for what constituted the first Jewish neighborhood inJerusalem outside the walls of the Old City [later named Mishkenot Sha'ananim].2

Over the years Gershom gained the friendship and confidence of Sir Moses. In a letter to Gershom dated July 8, 1858, Sir Moses wrote:

I wish I could prevail on you to come and pass a couple of months with us in East Cliff. We could then conclude on the best plan for carrying out Mr. Touro’s benevolent intentions without that delay which a correspondence across the Atlantic would occasion … it would be of the greatest possible satisfaction to me to have the advantage of your advice on every point concerning the matter. Pray let me know can you without great inconvenience come (and come as soon as possible). We shall indeed be happy to have you. Lady Montefiore writes with me in kindest regards to you….3

In 1859 Gershom again went to Europe, this time to assist Sir Moses in his ultimately unsuccessful efforts to have Edgar Mortara, a young child whom papal guards had violently abducted from the home of his Jewish parents in Bologna, Italy, returned.

Gershom did not marry until he was forty-three. On January 12, 1861 he married Grace Guedalla, Sir Moses’s niece. Two years later, Gershon passed away from an illness that today would probably be curable.

His death was noted by obituaries in Jewish newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic. London’s Jewish Chronicle remembered Gershom as an exemplary Jew “who was known in wide circles in both hemispheres; respected by those who either came into contact with him or had the opportunity of observing the rare integrity, candour, dislike of all ostentation, strength of character, and purity of motives and a most enlarged sympathy with everything that was good and noble.”4

1 The Seixas-Kursheedts and the Rise of Early American Jewry by Kenneth Libo and Abigail Kursheedt Hoffman, Bloch Publishing Company, Inc. in conjunction with the American Jewish Historical Society, 2001, page 68.
2 Ibid., pages 68-69.
3 Ibid., page 70.

4 The Seixas-Kursheedts and the Rise of Early American Jewry, pages 71-72.

Dr. Yitzchok Levine recently retired after serving for forty years as a professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey. “Glimpses Into American Jewish History” appears the first week of each month. Dr. Levine can be contacted at llevine@stevens.edu.

The Man Who Brought Judah Touro Back To Judaism

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

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. For years, however, Touro showed little or no interest in affiliating with anything Jewish in New Orleans.

The Reverend Isaac Leeser of Philadelphia, the editor of the first successful American-Jewish periodical, The Occident and American Jewish Advocate who probably knew as much about Touro as anyone who was not a resident of New Orleans, said bluntly that “it was late in life when Mr. T. became impressed with the necessity of being an Israelite in more than in mere words.” This explicit statement is supported by the fact that it was not until about 1847, seven years before his death, that Touro began to do anything to perpetuate Jewish life in New Orleans. In that year he purchased an Episcopal church and set about making the multifarious and expensive arrangements for its conversion into a synagogue for the Sephardic congregation Nefutzoth Yehudah.1

In the last years of his life Touro davened regularly at Congregation Nefutzoth Yehudah and even became a strict Sabbath observer, as the following letter makes clear:

New Orleans, January 5th, 1852.
H. Bier, Esq.,
President,
Firemen’s Charitable Association:

Sir:

Having been made aware of the exhausted state of your treasury, and knowing the usefulness of fire departments, as exhibited on Saturday morning last, when through the activity of several companies, a considerable portion of my property was saved, I beg to present the enclosed one thousand dollars and hope that it may temporarily relieve the widows and orphans dependent on the association for support.

Saturday, on which the fire occurred, being my Sabbath, has prevented me from sending this until this morning.

Very respectfully,

J. Touro2

 

The man primarily responsible for Touro’s return to religious observance was Gershom Kursheedt (1817-1863). He also influenced Touro to leave large sums of money to a variety of Jewish causes both here and in Eretz Yisrael.

Kursheedt was the seventh child of Israel Baer and Sarah Abigail Seixas Kursheedt. Israel Baer Kursheedt was a learned Jew who had studied in the yeshiva of Rav Nosson Adler in Frankfurt, Germany, before coming to America in 1796. (For details of Israel Baer Kursheedt’s life see “America’s First Torah Scholar: Israel Baer Kursheedt,” The Jewish Press, February 7, 2007, page 1 – www.jewishpress.com/content.cfm?contentid=20616). His mother was Sarah Abigail (Sally) Seixas, the eldest daughter of Rev. Gershom Mendes Seixas, who served as chazzan of Congregation Shearith Israel for almost fifty years, for whom he was named.

“I have but one ambition in life,” Gershom wrote in a letter to his friend Isaac Leeser, “and that is to elevate the character of our people in the eyes of God and man.”3

Gershom moved to New Orleans in late 1839 or early 1840, going into business as a broker and becoming involved in the Jewish community. He joined Congregation Shanarai-Chasset (Gates of Mercy), the first synagogue established in New Orleans.

Some time during the late 1830s the congregation had discarded the Sephardic ritual and adopted the Ashkenazic, probably because of the large influx of German-born Jews, and the inability of any leader to conduct the Sephardic ritual. Kursheedt was one of the fifty-one members who signed the new by-laws of 1841 which, among other changes, noted that the services should be “in conformity with the rules and customs of the German Israelites,” and henceforth banned the membership of any man who had intermarried. When the Hebrew Benevolent Society of New Orleans was established in 1844, Gershom became its first treasurer.

Shortly after the High Holy Days of 1845, Kursheedt organized a new Sephardic congregation, called the Dispersed of Judah – Nefutzoth Yehudah; in the year and a half prior to its receipt of a charter from the state, Kursheedt succeeded in persuading forty men to join the congregation.4

 

Jewish Endeavors

Although Touro would not consider joining the Dispersed of Judah Congregation, he was somehow persuaded to accept the financial responsibility of providing it with a synagogue. How Gershom accomplished this is an “enigma wrapped in a mystery” – unless it was not Gershom who was the successful advocate, but Rezin Shepherd [a friend of Touro's, who had saved his life when Touro was wounded in battle in 1815]. It is surely more than a coincidence that Touro finally bestirred himself to do something concrete for the Jewish community of New Orleans at the very same time that Shepherd’s church had outgrown its building and was planning a new structure. Our best judgment is that Shepherd – according to Kursheedt, the one man who knew how to deal with Touro – told Touro of Christ Church’s plans and suggested that it would be a good idea for him to trade some desirable land that he owned in exchange for the church, and then to remodel the building into a synagogue. But, even so, it may have been Kursheedt who suggested the idea to Shepherd.5

Kursheedt, as president of the new congregation, had the headache of supervising the renovation of the church building so that it could serve as a synagogue. Touro, who was providing the funds, insisted on approving every detail. Often he could not make up his mind concerning what he wanted, and, even after making a decision, he would change his mind more than once. In December 1847 Gershom wrote to his close friend Isaac Leeser (for a sketch of Leeser’s life see “Isaac Leeser: Architect of Traditional Judaism in America,” The Jewish Press, June 22, 2007, page 1 – www.jewishpress.com/content.cfm?contentid=21906):

Mr. Touro is the very impersonation of a snail, not to say of a crab whose progress (to use a paradox) is usually backward. My patience is well nigh exhausted with him and I am interrogated by so many concerning his intentions that it is not unusual for me to dodge a corner in order to avoid meeting certain parties who seem to think that I am making a mystery of the matter.6

Had he died in the 1820s or 1830s, Touro probably would have left substantial sums of money to many charitable organizations, but certainly not to Jewish organizations. Toward the end of his life, through the efforts of Kursheedt and Leeser, Touro returned to the religious practices of his ancestors, and Kursheedt was able to influence him to make generous bequests to a number of Jewish causes. It took considerable effort because Touro was a stubborn, difficult man who had trouble making up his mind. Nonetheless, Kursheedt had considerable success.

Touro’s gifts to orphans’ homes and other Christian welfare agencies in New Orleans, and for the construction of a new almshouse, totaled $120,000. Philanthropic institutions in Boston, to which his brother Abraham had been devoted, received $20,000. In Newport, Rhode Island, his old home, $10,000 was given to the Old Stone Mill Park, and $3,000 to the Redwood Library.

The Jews of New Orleans received a total of $108,000 – including property worth $48,000 to Dispersed of Judah, $40,000 in property (the Paulding estate) for a Jewish hospital (Touro Infirmary) in New Orleans, $5,000 for Shanarai-Chasset and $15,000 for local benevolent societies including the utopian effort to send assistance to the dwindling Jewish community in China.

An endowment of $10,000 was established for the Newport synagogue and cemetery. A total of $60,000 went toward the relief of the poor Jews of Palestine, $50,000 to be used at the discretion of the distinguished British Jewish leader, Sir Moses Montefiore. Congregations, religious schools, benevolent societies and Jewish hospitals in Boston, Hartford, New Haven, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Richmond, Charleston, Savannah, Mobile, Memphis, Louisville, Cincinnati, Cleveland, St. Louis, Buffalo and Albany received a total of $143,000.

There is no question that through his influence on Judah Touro, Gershom Kursheedt fulfilled his ambition “to elevate the character of our people in the eyes of God and man.” Jewry owes him a considerable debt of gratitude.

 

1 “A Reappraisal of Judah Touro” by Bertram W. Korn, The Jewish Quarterly Review, 45, 1955, page 572.

2 Ibid. pages 573-574.

3 The Seixas-Kursheedts and the Rise of Early American Jewry by Kenneth Libo and Abigail Kursheedt Hoffman, Bock Publishing Company, Inc., 2001, page 51.

4 The Early Jews of New Orleans by Bertram Wallace Korn, American Jewish Historical Society, Waltham, MA, 1969, page 248.

5 Ibid. page 249.

6 The Early Jews of New Orleans, page 250.

 

Dr. Yitzchok Levine recently retired after serving for forty years as a professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey. “Glimpses Into American Jewish History” appears the first week of each month. Dr. Levine can be contacted at llevine@stevens.edu.

The Founding of the Rabbi Jacob Joseph School

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008
Note: Unless otherwise indicated, all quotes are from “A Follow Up Study of the Graduates of One of the Oldest Existing American Jewish Day Schools: the Rabbi Jacob Joseph School” by Irving I. Pinsky, thesis (Ed.D.), Ferkauf Graduate School of Education, Yeshiva University.

“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). It was organized because ‘the ordinary Talmud Torah was unable to give a complete mastery of the history, literature and the precepts of our religion’ and because ‘there was no school in which a complete secular education could be given, without reducing the time needed for religious training.’”

The person most instrumental in the founding of this yeshiva was Russian-born Rabbi Shmuel Yitzchok Andron. He had received a thorough Jewish and secular education in his native country. Indeed, he was noted for his broad Jewish scholarship, “had taught French and German in Russian schools, had published a book on pedagogy in Russian, and had written for many Hebrew periodicals.”   He served as president of the yeshiva from its inception until 1914.
“When Rabbi Jacob Joseph, [the Chief Rabbi of New York City] died in 1902, Rabbi Andron assembled Jewish laymen and community leaders and won support for expansion and for change of the yeshiva name to perpetuate the memory of Rabbi Jacob Joseph.”
Setting The Pattern For Future Yeshivas 
The Rabbi Jacob Joseph School was unique in that it was the first elementary parochial school that taught basic Jewish studies as well as Talmud. Yeshiva Etz Chaim, founded in 1886, was an intermediate school that enrolled boys at least nine years old who already were somewhat proficient in Chumash and Rashi. Yeshiva Etz Chaim’s goal was to give its students a thorough grounding in Gemara and Shulchan Aruch. In addition, it provided some limited secular studies in the late afternoon.
The Rabbi Jacob Joseph School was different in that in addition to providing a first rate religious education, it sought to provide its students with an excellent secular education at least equivalent to that offered by the public schools of the time.
Nonetheless, limudei chol (secular or “English” studies) was considered much less important than limudei kodesh (religious studies), and this attitude was clearly displayed in the constitution of the school. It required that there be two principals, one for each department.
While the duties of the menahel (Hebrew studies principal) occupy fully twenty-two lines in the constitution, the duties of the English school principal take up only five and provide only a minimal amount of detail. The founders of the RJJ School felt it was sufficient that the secular department meet the standards set up by the New York City Board of Education, and left it at that.
The Curriculum
Limudei kodesh (religious studies) consisted of the material covered in Eastern European yeshivas at the time. The language of instruction was Yiddish.

There was emphasis on Talmud with the goal of producing Talmudic scholars. Beginners were taught to read the Rashit Da’at, the Siddur, and then began the study of the Bible. The Sedra or weekly Bible portion was studied in the upper grades together with the classical Rashi commentary. The Kitzur Shulhan Aruk was studied weekly.

Study of Gemara began in the sixth grade for boys who were 10 or 11 years old.

No formal attempt was made to teach Isaiah, Jeremiah, or any of the other important Prophets. Courses in Jewish history were not included in the curriculum. The attitude of both board members and faculty was that these subjects were relatively simple in comparison with Talmud and required no formal instruction. They felt that the student could master such subjects by himself after attaining proficiency in Talmud.

The secular curriculum was essentially the same as that given in the public schools, save that certain subjects that were considered “unnecessary” were not taught. All secular instruction was in English. Most of the secular teachers were young men who taught in the public schools until 3 p.m. Secular instruction took place between 4 and 7 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. Thus a total of 15 hours per week were set aside for instruction in secular subjects.
The first part of the school day, from 9until about 3, was devoted to limudei kodesh and the rest of the day to acquiring basic skills in English language, history, mathematics, and science. The decision to devote the first part of the day to religious studies was motivated by the idea that the children were “at their best” during this time. In addition, the decision to put secular studies in the afternoon permitted the use of public school teachers as instructors.

During the 1920′s the Religious department was divided into two sections — a Hebrew and a Yiddish section. From interviews and talks with individuals, it would seem that gradually a demand developed on the part of younger parents to have their children learn more Hebrew. It is probable that Hebrew-taught classes started slowly and developed into a separate but parallel department through the elementary grades. The parents insisting on a Hebrew education for their children seem to have been more Zionist in outlook. By introducing Hebrew as a language of instruction, the school adapted some of the methods of the Heder Methukkan (the improved school). For this purpose, teachers with a thorough knowledge of Hebrew, language, grammar, and pedagogy were needed. This tendency was interpreted by some educators as the Haskalah (age of enlightenment) influence upon the Yeshiva curriculum. However, the teachers who were engaged were all orthodox men devoted to Torah and Mitzvot.

The curriculum of the yeshiva expanded rapidly and changed to fit the needs of the Jewish community. Every new term brought changes and modification. Often the school board and administration worked on a trial and error basis, for no guiding principles or precedents in Yeshiva education on the American scene were available to them.
A Successful Endeavor
The educational approach taken by the directors of the Rabbi Jacob Joseph School met with considerable success. By 1910 there were 500 boys enrolled in the school. The great majority of pupils were immigrant children who previous to coming to America had received religious instruction in Russia and Poland.
Many of the students traveled a considerable distance to get to the Lower East Side, where the school was located.  Carfare was provided for some of them. A “kitchen fund” was established by the Ladies Auxiliary associated with the school so that those in need were provided with breakfast and lunch.
Those daring men who pioneered this bold experiment in Jewish education felt that through a thorough grounding in Judaism supplemented by a good secular education, they would produce students who, while remaining true to Torah Judaism, would be able to function well in American society. Time has proven how right they were.
(Dr. Levine expresses his thanks to Ms. Elinor Grumet of the Stern College Library for providing him with the material from Irving Pinsky’s thesis used in this article.)

[1]  “Jewish Education in New York City” by Alexander M. Dushkin, The Bureau of Jewish Education, New York, 1918, page 75.

 

[1] “RABBI S.I. ANDRON DIES IN PALESTINE,” The New York Times, February 27, 1930, page 18.

 

[1] “It is simply not accurate to say that all of the Judaic teachers were Orthodox men, etc.  When I attended the yeshiva in the 1940s there were several who definitely fit into the Haskalah category.” Personal communication from Dr. Marvin Schick, 11/26/07.

 

Dr. Yitzchok Levine is a professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey. “Glimpses Into American Jewish History” appears the first week of each month. Dr. Levine can be contacted at llevine@stevens.edu.

The Chief Rabbi Encounters Opposition

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

Note: Unless otherwise indicated all quotes are from “New York Chooses a Chief Rabbi” by Abraham J. Karp, Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society (1893-1961) Sep 1954-Jun 1955, 44. The article is available at http://www.ajhs.org/references/adaje.cfm.

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. His first drasha at his shul, Beth HaMidrash Hagadol, was attended by a crowd so large it was necessary to have the police present. Initially it looked like Rabbi Joseph’s career as chief rabbi of New York was going to be a smashing success. Unfortunately, this was not to be the case.

However, from the outset the appointment of Rabbi Joseph by the Association [of American Orthodox Hebrew Congregations]created a furor among certain Jewish circles. Many Orthodox congregations who did not partake in the selection refused to recognize Rabbi Joseph’s leadership. Reform Jewry, on the other hand, remained indifferent or hostile to the entire idea of a “chief rabbi.” Jacob Joseph’s appointment was particularly resented by the Anglo-Jewish press, then dominated by German Jews. Thus, the New York correspondent of Isaac Mayer Wise’s American Israelite, even before Rabbi Joseph’s arrival in America, expressed bemusement that a man who spoke neither German nor English, and whose vernacular was an unintelligible jargon (Yiddish) had been chosen as a fitting representative of Orthodox Judaism to the world at large.[i]

Others questioned the entire concept of a chief rabbi.

“What is the Chief Rabbi to do?” had already been asked in December, 1887, by the perceptive New York correspondent of the American Israelite, Mi Yodea. He stated that even those “most eager for the creation of this new office,” did not quite know what its functions were to be. To render ritual decisions he was not needed, nor were preachers a scarce commodity; and it seemed highly unlikely that the congregations would import a chief rabbi just to sit and study day and night.

An uptown periodical, the Jewish Messenger, was critical of the entire undertaking. If downtown Jewry had thousands of dollars to import rabbis, why, questioned the Messenger, did they not support the charitable institutions such as hospitals and homes which their population used?

“What do we need of an immigrant and prejudiced rabbi?” asked the Reform periodical Jewish Tidings. “He should go back to the land that gave him birth.”

In a later issue the argument was carried further:

“Rabbi Joseph is unfamiliar with the language of this country and is therefore unfitted to exercise authority or influence over American Jews. The Jews of this country do not need a Grand Rabbi and one from a foreign country; one who is reared among the prejudices and bigotries of the Eastern countries will certainly prove an obstacle to the people over whom he is expected to exercise control.”

Kashrus: Problems And Pitfalls

A motivating factor in the minds of those who wanted a chief rabbi for New York was their feeling that such a person would be able to put a stop the shameful practices plaguing the kosher meat industry. Time and again the Jewish community of New York had witnessed squabbles between butchers, accusations and counter-accusations among the shochtim, as well as abuse to anyone who tried to impose a reasonable system of supervision.

Rabbi Abraham Joseph Ash, who had been the rabbi of Beth HaMidrash Hagadol until his passing in 1887, “had suffered during his incumbency from butchers who flouted his authority and attacked his person.”

[The kosher meat business] was a lucrative business and notorious for its strong-arm methods, chicanery, and squabbles. The butchers and “shochatim” (ritual slaughterers), as well as some rabbis had repeatedly been locked in disputes over the income from “kashrut”: fist fights were not uncommon and disregard for Jewish law and Board of Health ordinances were rampant. Exploiting the vacuum of both secular and rabbinical authority, Jewish abattoir owners and retail butchers alike resolved the matter by engaging their own rabbis, or pseudo-rabbis, to validate the ritual purity of their products. With this seal of “kashrut” the entrepreneur kept his foothold in the Jewish market and justified the higher prices derived from its religious value. The system lent itself to corruption, and it has been estimated that during this period possibly half the kosher meat sold to the Jewish public was non-kosher.[ii]

The solution was really quite simple; namely, the institution of stringent standards of supervision in the kosher meat industry. Therefore, it did not take long for Rabbi Joseph, with the support of the Association of American Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, to take energetic steps to remedy this situation.

But the leaders of the Association saw in the supervision of kosher meat a source of income for the organization. They argued that proper supervision cost money, and those who benefited from it should pay for it. The Chief Rabbi, however, was opposed to any direct charge for the supervision of kashrut. He maintained that it was in the interest of the entire community that order and harmony exist in this industry and the costs of administering it be borne by the communal religious agency, the Association of American Orthodox Hebrew Congregations. But he had to surrender to the superior wisdom and experience of the “American business men” who had brought him to this country. He was able, however, to exact the compromise that the tax for supervision be placed not upon meat but upon poultry.

The matter having been decided and agreed upon, it was formally announced through a circular in Yiddish, followed by an English version, distributed in downtown New York.

Every bird slaughtered in the kosher abattoirs was to be under the strict supervision of Rabbi Joseph’s staff, and stamped accordingly with a special lead seal (plumbe). A tax of a penny was to be added to the selling price of each chicken. It was anticipated that this penny tax as well as the dues paid by each congregational member of the Association would be sufficient to cover the salaries of Rabbi Joseph and his mashgichim.

But the Association completely misread the public’s reaction to this additional expense. Instead of easing Rabbi Joseph’s job, the plumbe became a weight which dragged the Chief Rabbi down to the depths of indignity. It eventually led to his downfall.

The penny tax was opposed by many: to Jewish housewives it smacked of price gouging, while to Jewish radicals and most of the Yiddish press, it was reminiscent of the infamous levy imposed by the czarist Russian government on kosher meat. An equally bitter protest came from the ranks of the butchers and slaughterers who were convinced that the best inspection was the one that inspected the least.

In addition, some rabbis, threatened with the loss of their income from the abattoirs and butchers and resentful of the exalted state and salary conferred on the “chief rabbi,” joined in the agitation against [Rabbi] Joseph and the penny tax.

Opposition to the Association and to Rabbi Jacob Joseph also came from a number of Galician and Hungarian congregations who were unwilling to submit to an authority dominated by “Litwaks” (Lithuanian Jews). Instead, they decided to look for a “chief rabbi” of their own, and in 1892 settled on Rabbi Joshua Segal as their choice. What followed was a squalid competition between the two “chief rabbis,” and their partisans over the supervision of “kashrut.” In 1893 still another rabbi entered the fray. His name was Hayim Vidrowitz of Moscow. He managed to gather to his side a few followers from a number of Hassidic “shtiblakh” (prayer rooms), and hung out a sign reading “Chief Rabbi in America.” Asked who had given him this title, Rabbi Vidrowitz replied, “The sign painter.”

Rabbi Joseph, despite a small and appreciative following, could not overcome the centrifugal forces in the New York Jewish community. Reduced to shame and parody his influence gradually declined. The Associationsoon began to renege on payments of [Rabbi] Joseph’s salary, and for all practical purposes became a mere paper organization.[iii]

[i] “Twilight Years of Rabbi Jacob Joseph” by Joseph Adler, http://www.ameinu.net/frontier/jf_1 00_adler.html

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Ibid.

(To be continued next month)

Dr. Yitzchok Levine, a frequent contributor to The Jewish Press, is a professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey. “Glimpses Into American Jewish History” appears the first week of each month. Dr. Levine can be contacted at llevine@stevens.edu

Alfred Mordecai’s Agonizing Decision

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

The Civil War caused a great divide among Americans, pitting brother against brother, relative against relative, friend against friend. Jews fought on both sides in this conflict, and they also found themselves beset with divided loyalties. Alfred Mordecai was one such individual who was forced to make a most difficult decision that cost him his career and alienated him from family and friends.

Mordecai was born on January 3, 1804 in North Carolina to Jacob Mordecai and Rebecca (Becky) Mears Myers. Becky was the half sister of Jacob’s first wife, Judith Myers, who died in 1796. Jacob had a total of 13 children, six from his first wife and seven from his second. Mordecai was a pioneer in education who at one time ran an academy for young women. (See “Jacob Mordecai: Pioneer In Women’s Education,” The Jewish Press, September 1, 2006, page 52, or www.jewishpress.com, Glimpses Into American Jewish History, Part 18.)

The Mordecais resided in the small town of Warrenton when Alfred was a boy. They were the only Jews living there, yet they were committed to Judaism. Their home was kosher, and they observed Shabbos and the Jewish festivals.

Alfred received his early secular education from his older sisters and his father. For a time he was the only boy attending the family’s boarding school. He received a well-rounded classical education that was supplemented at home with the study of Hebrew and other Jewish subjects. He was a precocious student who displayed particular brilliance in mathematics. He wrote in his diary,

At the age of fifteen, I was well versed in the English language and literature, in geography, and history and arithmetic, knew something of geometry and trigonometry, and had completed a great part of the Collegiate course of Latin & Greek; having read in the latter language the whole of the Iliad. I could read French fluently and write it pretty well.[i]

Distinguished Military Career

He was such an exceptional student that in 1819 at the age of 15 he was admitted to West Point and graduated at the top of his class at the age of 19.

He continued at West Point as an instructor, then supervised construction of fortifications along the Atlantic Coast and was eventually stationed in Washington, DC, as assistant to the Army Chief of Engineers. In 1836, Mordecai was appointed commander of the Frankford Arsenal in Philadelphia. That year, he married Sarah Ann Hays of that city, a niece of Rebecca Gratz.

Mordecai rose to the rank of major and, during the Mexican War, assumed command of the army’s most significant arsenal, in Washington, DC. Mordecai became an assistant to the Secretary of War and to the Chief of Ordnance, wrote an excellent Digest of Military Laws and served on the Board of Visitors to West Point.

“It was as a member of the Ordnance Board,” historian Stanley L. Falk observes, “which passed on and developed all new weapons, ammunition and ordnance equipment for the Army, that [Mordecai] made his greatest contributions.”[ii]Mordecai instituted scientific testing of munitions and new weapons systems. In 1841, he authored the first-ever ordnance manual for the U.S. military that standardized the manufacture of weapons with interchangeable parts, a step in the evolution of American mass manufacturing. According to Falk, Mordecai also “performed important experiments with artillery and gunpowder, the results of . . . which were published in 1845 . . . and later translated into French and German.”

The year 1857 marked the peak of Mordecai’s career. He traveled to Europe to observe the use of weaponry in the Crimean War. His report, written on his return, is considered a classic of American military science.

Falk asserts that Mordecai’s work “was valued for its accuracy, its precise and systematic nature, and its immediate usefulness. It was an example and an inspiration for every other worker in the same field, and Mordecai was respected by all of them for his technical contributions no less than he was loved for his fineness of character, integrity, warmth and gentle humor.” [iii]

The Civil War

The impending outbreak of the Civil War in 1861 put Alfred in a most difficult position.

He was compelled to choose between loyalty to family and duty to his sworn oath to his country. On one hand, Alfred had exceptionally close ties with his own family who were ardent adherents of the Southern cause. His mother, sisters and brothers lived in the South. While he left the South at an early age, he often visited his family and maintained a steady correspondence with individual members. He was nurtured in the Southern tradition.

Fellow West Pointers from the South resigned their commissions and joined their Southern families and compatriots in rebellion. Robert E. Lee and others envisioned the Southern cause as justifiable, and thus solved their moral dilemma. However, for Alfred Mordecai, the situation was much more complex. His wife and children had been brought up in the North and his son had entered West Point. If Alfred would identify with the Union cause, he would satisfy his immediate family, but alienate his mother and siblings.

In addition, any military action in which Major Mordecai would be involved as an experienced ordinance officer could possibly cause physical harm to one of his relatives. By the same token utilizing his expertise on behalf of the South would create a conflict in his mind, which he could not resolve.[iv]

Pressure was put on Alfred by individuals from both the North and the South. In January 1861, before the conflict started, North Carolina Governor John W. Ellis urged him to resign his post and come to his native state to help prepare for war. Jefferson Davis, who knew Alfred well, offered him the command of the Confederate Corps of Artillery. Members of his family in the South wrote to him urging him to support the Confederacy.

His military colleagues who were loyal to the North pressured him to openly declare that he would fight for the Union. Others viewed his silence with suspicion. After all, he was a Southerner commanding the most important arsenal in the country. Indeed, at one point he was forced to answer charges by those suspicious of his Southern birth that he was involved in the secret sale of arms equipment to the South. However, he was vindicated of these charges.

He finally reached the only decision he felt he could live with. He would not fight for the Confederacy against the North. On the other hand, under no circumstances would he take up arms against the South.

“Thus, on May 2, 1861, Major Alfred Mordecai addressed this simple letter to Lt. Col. J. W. Ripley of the United States Army: I hereby tender the resignation of my commission as a Major of Ordinance in the Army of the United States and request that it may be accepted by the President.”[v]

Repercussions

Alfred’s decision to sit out the war met with varied reactions. Many of his friends, both Northern and Southern, were sympathetic and understanding, though some on both sides regretted his decision to remain neutral. His relatives in the South were most unhappy with him. Some of them attributed his action to his Northern wife’s influence, but Alfred strongly denied this.

Alfred’s military career was now ended, and he was faced with the problem of supporting himself and his family. He was a fifty-seven year-old man who, for the first time in his life, found himself seeking employment. Despite the fact that the only trade he knew was the preparation and testing of the tools of war, he was determined to avoid any position that was even remotely related to military service. He therefore turned down many good positions. He spent the war years in Philadelphia where he partially supported himself by teaching. The majority of the family income came from a school run by his daughters.

When faced with the most difficult decision of his life, Alfred Mordecai remained true to his principles. But he paid a very high price, sacrificing his brilliant military career and living the rest of his life as a private citizen.

Major Mordecai died on October 23, 1887 at the age of 85.

Dr. Yitzchok Levine, a frequent contributor to The Jewish Press, is a professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey. “Glimpses Into American Jewish History” appears the first week of each month. Dr. Levine can be contacted at llevine@stevens.edu.

1 Quoted in The Last of the Jews? by Myron Berman, University Press of America, New York, 1998, page 74.

2 Divided Loyalties in 1861: The Decision of Major Alfred Mordecai, by Stanley L. Falk, Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society, 48, pages 146B-170. Available at http://www.ajhs.org/reference/adaje.cfm

3 “Alfred Mordecai, Military Scientist,”
http://www.ajhs.org/publications/chapters/chapter.cfm?documentID=190

4 The Last of the Jews?Pages 76- 77.

5 Ibid., pages 78-79.

[i]Quoted in The Last of the Jews? by Myron Berman, University Press of America, New York, 1998, page 74.

[ii]Divided Loyalties in 1861: The Decision of Major Alfred Mordecai, by Stanley L. Falk, Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society, 48, pages 146B – 170. Available at http://www.ajhs.org/reference/adaje.cfm

[iii] “Alfred Mordecai, Military Scientist,”
http://www.ajhs.org/publications/chapters/chapter.cfm?documentID=190

[iv] The Last of the Jews?Pages 76 – 77.

[v]Ibid., pages 78 – 79.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/glimpses-ajh/alfred-mordecais-agonizing-decision/2007/10/31/

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