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Anglo-Jewry and the Development of American Jewish Life, 1755-1850

J. Jacob Neusner

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Anglo-Jewry and the Development of American Jewish Life, 1775-18501 MERICAN political independence, declared in 1776, was followed by decades of cultural dependence on Great Britain. Sydney Smith's famous taunt in 1820, ^"In the four quarters of the globe, who reads an American book ? or goes to an American play ? or looks at an American picture or statue ?" evoked small response, for in truth even Americans were reading British books and going to British plays. In the decades between 1775 and 1850, however, Americans began to achieve a national culture independent of that of Britain. It is impossible to fix a date in which the balance of cultural payments shifted to favour America; according to many Europeans, it never has. In the major areas of American cultural life, however, the six decades between 1790 and 1850 may be noted as the years in which Americans, proud of their political independence, began to seek their destiny as a civilization without deference to that of Great Britain. A small aspect of the cultural relationship between America and Britain during these years is the influence of English Jews in American Jewish life. This influence was exceedingly limited, and is certainly not a decisive factor in the development of American Jewry during this period. Once I had thought differently and sought to establish conclusively a period of Anglo-Jewish dominance in American Jewish history, when the forms and conventions of Anglo-Jewry, developed in response to peculiarly British conditions, were transported to America, there to shape the incipient communities. This would, I had hoped, have established an English "period" of American Jewish history to stand alongside the preceding "Sephardic era" and the subsequent "German" and "Russian" periods. Since I do not share the morality of historians who seek to prove what did not happen, I present the discussion that follows as a brief assessment of the specific influences of Anglo-Jewry in America well aware that these influences stand apart, though not isolated, from the mainstream of American Jewish history. Two basic facts have become clear. First, that some American Jews were born and raised in England. These "Anglo-American" Jews fall into two categories : first, the pre-revolutionary Anglo-Jewish families who sent representatives across the Atlantic to America, with such names well-known in both countries as Hendricks, Franks, Gomez, and Waag2; and second, the immigrants who came both before and after the American Revolution from the lower social strata of English Jewry. A third group deserve con? sideration : the immigrants who were born on the continent, came to England, and from here to America. England was for two centuries the gateway to America; immigrants from Germany and Eastern Europe frequently came to England intending to go no further and they or their children came on to the United States. These people came under the influence of Anglo-Jewish life for varying periods, but to some extent all had become oriented toward the religious and social institutions of England before coming to America. The second category of immigrant may be embodied in Simon Nathan, By J. Jacob Neusner 1 Paper read before the Jewish Historical Society of England on 14th June, 1954. 2 Cf. J. R. Marcus, Early American Jewry, Vols. I and II, (Philadelphia, 1951, 1953). For a discussion of the transatlantic Jewish families and their doings, cf. Vol. I, 50, 51, 57, 62, 136, 139, 163, 166 ; II, 5, 26, 56, 70, 233, 241, 296, inter aha. 231</page><page sequence="2">232 ANGLO-JEWRY AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF AMERICAN JEWISH LIFE, 1775-1850 born in Frome, Somersetshire in 1746, who emigrated to America in 1773. Nathan was a merchant and greatly assisted the patriot cause in the War for Independence, particularly aiding the State of Virginia.1 The continental-born Anglo-Jew who went to America may be epitomized by an early and little known New Yorker, Moses Levy, who was born in Germany in 1665 and came to America from London. Levy, a merchant, served as parnass of Congregation Shearith Israel for a time before his death in 1728. It is interesting to realize that Moses Levy's brother, Joseph Levy, was at almost the same time president of the Great Synagogue in London.2 A second basic fact is that the English Jews who came to America influenced the development of American Jewry in certain specific areas. Certain American synagogues were, between 1800 and 1840, almost as much a part of the colonial dependency of Anglo-Jewry as the communities in imperial South Africa, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. In addition to these London-oriented synagogues, English Jews played an interesting role in certain communal institutions through their unique adjustment to American life. By their knowledge of the English language and the ways of the English speaking world, these Jews were qualified to hold certain offices of intellectual importance as secretaries, printers, ministers, and newspaper publishers, in which knowledge both of the language and of Jewish culture was required. American-born Jews frequently lacked any kind of comprehensive knowledge of Judaism because of poor educational facilities, while European Jews did not know the English language satisfactorily. In positions of leadership, English Jews in America shared the English experience with others groping toward a rational Jewish community structure. English Jews were particularly numerous in Charleston and New York, while individuals were scattered in dozens of towns throughout the nation, as well as in small numbers in Cincinnati and Philadelphia. In these various cities, English Jews filled vital roles in community-wide institutions. Charleston Jewry had the largest proportion of English Jews. In the early years of the community, between 1750 and 1783, Jews of Spanish-Portuguese origin, born in England and the West Indies, dominated community life. In the next decades, West Indian and German Jews came in increasing numbers, along with English immigrants. An informed guess would suggest the following figures : 1750?1783 350 Jews in Charleston, of whom 120 may have been English 1783?1800 500 Jews in Charleston, of whom 200 may have been English 1800?1824 1,000 Jews in Charleston, of whom 400 may have been English or of English descent.3 1 D. D. Pool, Portraits Etched in Stone (N.Y. 1952). Pp. 415-418. 2 Ibid. 197-201. Also cf. J. R. Marcus, op. cit. Vol. 1 50-54, 58, 60, 64. C. Roth, History of the Great Synagogue (London, 1950), pp. 27-28, 47. 3 Cf. B. A. Elzas, The Jews of South Carolina (Philadelphia, 1904). Elzas lists the names of South Carolina Jews as gleaned from synagogue and other records. In his text, as well as in his Old Jewish Cemeteries at Charleston, South Carolina, 1762-1903. (Charleston, 1903) the origin of some individuals is stated. On the basis of such information, my estimates are made. The Cemeteries lists approximately 1,050 Jewish graves on which 30 inscriptions state specifically that the deceased was born in England. The number of different families in Charleston Jewry was not so great that these family origins, together with those in the text of the major work, could not give a fair basis for an informed guess. For this guess, I have used the proportion of 33% of English Jews to the number in the community, on the basis of clearly identifiable Anglo-Jewish families for each given period. A few of the English Jews in Charleston were : Barnet A. Cohen, native of Bristol, died in South Carolina in 1839 ', Lyon Levy, died in 1835 ;</page><page sequence="3">ANGLO-JEWRY AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF AMERICAN JEWISH LIFE, 1775-1850 233 Those who were not born in England were German, West Indian, Danish, Alsatian, Polish, French, and native-born Jews. The English-born group would seem to have formed a dominant, though not majority, group within Charleston Jewry. In the life of the Jewish community, it is difficult to distinguish between the role of Anglo-Jews and others. In the social, commercial, and political life of Charleston, it is likewise difficult to assess the role of Jews from that of non-Jews. Moses Lindo, indigo expert, and Francis Salvador, revolutionary hero, were both members of great transatlantic Anglo Jewish families.1 Many Jews held city and state political office; in every phase of Charleston life, from the humble turnkey at the prison to the professional classes Jews were to be found. In some degree, perhaps, this may be attributed to the presence of a large body of English Jews who made a comparatively quick and easy adjustment to American life and who were able from the start to participate wholly in all kinds of activities. Unlike the German Jews who followed them, their unUmited knowledge of the language allowed them to participate in all kinds of economic and political endeavour even in their first years in America. The Cincinnati Jewish community was founded by English Jews. They were as follows : Toseph Jonas, from Plymouth, who came to the city in 1817; David Israel Johnson, from Portsmouth, who moved on into Indiana; Lewis Cohen of London, Barnet Levi of Liverpool, and Jonas Levy of Exeter, all of whom came in 1819; Abraham Jonas, Morris and Sarah Moses, Philip Symonds and his wife and child, all from Ports? mouth ; in 1822, Phineas Moses and Samuel Joseph; in 1823, Simeon Moses from Barbados, and Morris and Joseph Symonds, from Portsmouth.2 While the English Jews in Cincinnati were shortly afterward swamped by the German migration, they played a unique role in their area. They were the first Jews across the Alleghanies, and it was to them that the gentiles looked for examples of what Jews were actually like. They found them no different from themselves, even speaking the same language and wearing the same clothing. [Indeed, legend has it that a Quaker woman was moved to inquire of Joseph Jonas, the first settler, "Art thou verily of God's chosen people ?" for she saw neither cloven hooves nor horns !] Thus the few English Jews played a role similar to that of countless German-Jewish pedlars of a later day, who left their country customers under the impression that a Jew was some variety of German.3 In New York English Jews settled in relatively large numbers. It is possible to Ralph Lipman, a native of London, died in 1837 ; Phebe Yates, wife of Joshua Lazarus, born in Liverpool in 1794; Solomon Hyams, born in Dublin, came to Charleston in 1787 and died in 1837; Sampson Simons, a native of Canterbury, died in 1811 ; Eliza Levin Hyman, born in Bristol, 1783, died in Charleston, 1870 ; Samuel Simpson, born in St. Edmunds, died in Charleston, 1827 ; Samuel Simons, native of London ; Joseph Sampson, born in Bury St. Edmunds, came to Charleston in 1817, died in 1830 at the age of 30 ; Edwin Chapman, born in Liverpool in 1827, died in Charleston in 1867 ; David Jacobs, born in Hull in 1825, died in Charleston in 1876; Abraham Levin Loewenstein, born in Glasgow in 1832, died in Charleston in 1854 ; and Jonas Cohen, native of London, born in 1788, died in 1826. Cf. Jewish Cemeteries pp. 6, 17, 27, 30, 36, 37, 40, 45, 47, 63, 66, 67, 68, 71, 72, 75, 76, 77, 82, 85, 94, 107. 1 Cf. Elzas, The Jews of South Carolina, chapters III and IV. 2 Occident, Vol. I, No. 7, Oct. 1843. Also D. Philipson, "The Jewish Pioneers of the Ohio Valley", Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society, VIII, 44 passim. 8 Cf. Oscar Handlin, "American Views of the Jew at the Opening of the Twentieth Century", PAJHS, XL, 323-345.</page><page sequence="4">234 ANGLO-JEWRY AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF AMERICAN JEWISH LIFE, 1775-1850 make an estimate of their numbers in the community. New York's Jewish population rose as follows : from 1795?350-^^ 1840?7,000 1825?500 ^^to 1850?16,000 1835?2,000 ^^-1860?40,000.1 Of the forty thousand in 1860, ethnic origin is estimated as follows : German?47% American-born?2.3% Polish?37% Dutch?1.9% English?3.2% French?1.1 % Bohemian?2.8% Others?4.7%.2 It would seem that in 1860 New York had somewhat over 1,200 English Jews. Since the wave of German and Polish immigrants broke in the 1830's and thereafter, it would likewise appear that a high proportion of the English Jews had come before that time. It does not seem unreasonable to suggest as a guess a total migration of 1,100 English Jews to New York before 1840. English Jews played a special role in the Jewish community of New York. They had settled in a city whose Jews were divided along lines of ethnic origin, with a very large German group, a somewhat smaller Polish minority, and Jews from other countries in non-German Central and Western Europe, and a very small but important group of native Jews. This last group possessed wealth, social prestige, and knowledge of the intricacies of organized group life. Native-born Jews like Mordecai Noah and Harmon Hendricks were prominent in the general life of New York; their interest in a project could mean its success. Yet in the nature of American Jewish life at this time few native-born Jews had an authoritative knowledge of Judaism by which they might set standards of Jewish expression. Hence, as we shall see, they looked to England for ministers and advice on questions of law and ethics. When a large number of English Jews came to New York, they possessed prestige as "authentic" Jews, and indeed were not unworthy of it for they were, by contrast to the native-born, more learned Jews. Their intellectual leaders provided leadership for the entire community in time. English Jews were hence able to form close ties to the native-born group. As the German Jews formed almost a majority in the community, the role of the English Jew became more important. The German Jew, loyal to the language and culture of the old country as his gentile compatriots, formed a group apart in the commu? nity. He looked down on the Polish Jews, the despised Ostjuden who spoke an inferior jargon and who were "unemancipated"; he was uninterested in following the leadership of the native-born, having brought with him his own intellectual leaders. Hence the other non-German-speaking elements of the non-English-speaking part of the Jewish community were isolated in a sense, for they could look neither to the Germans nor to the native-born for leadership. The English Jew, by reason of his special character, 1 H. B. Grinstein, The Rise of the Jewish Community of New York, 1654-1860 (Philadelphia, 1945), p. 469. 2 Ibid. p. 528. Dr. Grinstein infers these figures from the reports of Jews' Hospital, 1856-1858, in which the nativity of patients is given. He suggests that his are reliable estimates and my suggestions, based on them, are correlated with estimates of the rise of Charleston's English Jewry.</page><page sequence="5">ANGLO-JEWRY AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF AMERICAN JEWISH LIFE, 1775-1850 235 became the link between the native-born, to whom he was so similar, and the non-German speaking foreigner, whom he understood. The reason for his bond with the latter group lies in the Anglo-Jewish past: there had been maintained for over two centuries close ties between Anglo-Jewry and Dutch Jewry, partly because of family and commercial ties, partly because of the bonds between Dutch and English Sephardim. With Polish Jewry, likewise, English Jews had strong ties : many English Jews were the children or grandchildren of Yiddish-speaking Polish Jews and worshipped in the ritual of Polish Jewry.1 Yiddish was not an uncommon tongue among English Ashkenazim. Hence to two major groups of non-German foreigners, English Jews had already firm bonds of understanding. In some activities, then, English Jews took positions of leadership for Dutch and Polish Jews and obtained support from the native-born Jews. The Jews5 Hospital illustrates this relationship between the English Jews and the native-born and Dutch and Polish groups. In the late 1840's and early 18505s, the need for a Jews' Hospital was widely discussed, but it was difficult to reach agreement between the German group and the other half of the community. A meeting was called, for example, by the English-founded Hebrew Benevolent Society, but the German Jews refused to attend and commit themselves to the project because others had taken the initiative. Finally a native-born Jew, Sampson Simson, came forward, donated the necessary land, and gathered leaders of native?and English?organizations. The group founded the Jews' Hospital of the City of New York, and raised the money among their own groups as well as from the Dutch and Polish groups. In 1855 the hospital opened without a German on the Board of Trustees, and it was only in later years that the German Jews were conciliated. For years the positions of authority in the hospital were held by English Jews.2 There were other English Jews who served the community. S. M. Isaacs, Minister of Shaarey Tefilah, S. J. Jackson, a printer, and Robert Lyons, publisher of the Asmonean, were particularly important. Jackson, a Hebrew printer, served almost all the non-German groups with his English and Hebrew type founts, printing documents, constitutions, and prayerbooks, as well as the usual invitations and programmes. He wrote the constitution of more than one organization, and served as clerk for several new synagogues, perhaps in order to show them how to conduct meetings and keep records. He issued the first Jewish periodical in America, The Jew, a polemic against Christian missionary activity, from 1823 to 1825.3 Robert Lyons founded the weekly Asmonean, which appeared from 1848 to 1859. His paper was an important influence in moulding opinion on such issues as education, the Jews' Hospital, a union of benevolent societies. He attained national circulation, but his paper failed after German-language papers from Baltimore and Cincinnati drew off many readers.4 Still a third newspaper, the Jewish Messenger, of S. M. Isaacs, became a leading organ for American Jewry. It was published by pupils of Isaacs at the English synagogue, Shaarey Tefilah, and was particularly influential in the movement toward founding a Board of Delegates of American Israelites, of which we shall hear. Isaacs' activities extended far beyond the pulpit and newspaper publishing. He was secretary of various organizations, fulfilling much the same role as Jackson. 1 Ibid. p. 169-172. 2 Ibid. 155-8. 3 7^.43,79,212. * Ibid. 2X5,</page><page sequence="6">236 ANGLO-JEWRY AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF AMERICAN JEWISH LIFE, 1775-1850 He frequently urged the union of diverse and overlapping institutions. In the area of education, he organized an afternoon school, later expanding it into an all-day English and Hebrew School, in 1842. In 1846 he unsuccessfully sought to convert the school into a project of the entire community. He likewise propagandized for a school of higher learning for the training of rabbis and teachers, and in the late 1850's he founded a Hebrew High School for that purpose.1 Other English Jews were active in the life of New York Jewry, but the activities of men like Jackson, Lyons, and Isaacs epitomize their role in the community. As newspapermen, organizing secretaries, educators, and the like, English Jews were uniquely qualified to serve as links binding Judaism to America, as they were providing a common ground of leadership for the Dutch and Polish and native Jews. Aside from the communities in New York, Charleston, and Cincinnati, English Jews were not settled in significant numbers in any other part of the nation. In certain very important communities, such as Chicago and Baltimore, no record remains of any English Jews at all. In Philadelphia, a small group of Anglo-Jews had settled of whom something is known. Not large enough in numbers to make an impact as a group on the development of the community, the Philadelphia Anglo-Jews tell us something more of the role that English Jews played in the other cities where they had settled. Only a dozen or so names are known; of these, four would seem to typify the rest. All were active in many phases of Jewish community life, successful merchants, and part of the life of the general community of Philadelphia. John Moss, for example, came to America from London early in the 19th century. He served as trustee of Mikve Israel, was a coal merchant, an active Democrat, and was formally elected to the Philadelphia Hiber? nian Society in 1833, "the only Englishman made an Irishman by this society."2 Henry Cohen, born in London in 1810, came to America in 1837 and founded a stationery firm; he served as president of Mikve Israel in 1876.3 Both Moss and Cohen were organizers of the Philadelphia protest meeting on the Damascus affair in 1840, Moss presiding. Cohen returned to England in 1844 and married Matilda Samuel of Liverpool, who came to America with him. Mrs. Cohen laboured "earnestly in many worthy objects", both in the life of the general community (on the United States Sanitary Commission, the Women's Centennial Commission, and the New Century Club, and several charities) and its Jewry (she was manager of the Female Hebrew Benevolent Society, president of the Jewish Foster Home, manager of the Ladies Associate Board of the United Hebrew Charities and of the Hebrew Sunday School Society).4 A fourth Philadelphian, Lewis Allen, Sr., served as president of Mikve Israel (1834-1841); born in London, he came to America in his youth and was active in the Masonic Order and in Jewish charities. While these English Jews formed no significant segment of the Jewish community, there seems to have been a certain amount of intermarriage among them and their children ; for example, the daughter of Michael Marks, born in England and a member of Mikve Israel, married Lewis Allen Sr.5 1 Ibid. 215-218, 251, 257. 2 L. Moss, "Memoir of John Moss", PAJHS II, 171. H. S. Morais, The Jews of Philadelphia. (Philadelphia, 1894), pp. 49, 51-2, 254, 285, 407, 446. 3 Morais, op. cit. 52, 64, 65-7, 86, 136, 254, 316, 361. 4 Ibid. 66, 122, 128, 254-5, 316. 5 Ibid. 49.</page><page sequence="7">ANGLO-JEWRY AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF AMERICAN JEWISH LIFE, 1775-1850 237 Other individual English Jews were settled in many cities in America.1 In all, it would seem that there were as many as a hundred English Jews in America outside of New York and Charleston, but apart from in Philadelphia and Cincinnati, they were scarcely a significant number and certainly a trivial and unimportant element, as a group, in any one place. Certain smaller communities looked to New York for leadership, and turned to men like S. M. Isaacs for guidance in ritual and legal problems, thus extending the use of English models. For example, the new synagogue in Rochester turned to Mr. Isaacs in 1847 for a constitution and by-laws.2 Others turned to England, advertising in the Anglo-Jewish press for ministers.3 Such practices were not, it seems, very extensive. The major institution in American Jewish life during this period was the synagogue, and it was in its affairs that Anglo-Jewish influence is most clearly discernible. English Jews founded four synagogues, in Charleston, Cincinnati, and two in New York, and played important parts in two others in New York and Philadelphia; the English chief rabbi showed keen interest in American Jewry and asserted his authority to modify errors in ritual practices; and Anglo-Jewish ministers served in several synagogues. The English Jews who went to Cincinnati between 1817 and 1824 had been warned, "In the wilds of America and entirely amongst gentiles, you will forget your religion and your God." But by 1824, the pioneers had forgotten neither, but had founded the synagogue B'nai Jacob. Their congregation kept its records in English, adopted the prayerbook in use in England, and generally oriented themselves toward the mother country. But by the 1830's the English Jews had lost their predominance in the Cin? cinnati synagogue to the incoming Germans, part of a mass movement that would make some midwestern communities outposts of German Judaism.4 English influence proved more lasting in Charleston's Beth Elohim, founded in 1750. The zeal of an English Jew, Moses Cohen, a shopkeeper lately come from London, led to a formal organization and Cohen was recognized as "Haham and Ab Bet-Din", in imitation of the title of his counterpart at Bevis Marks. The first hazan at Beth Elohim, Isaac da Costa (born in 1722) had been educated in London by Haham Nieto; later readers, such as Abraham Alexander (1764-1784) and Abraham Azuby (1785-1805) had been born and trained in England. In 1805 the synagogue requested Bevis Marks to send out a hazan, but when the candidate, Benjamin Cohen D'Azevedo, came, he was found unsuitable and returned to the chagrin of the proud London trustees.5 Beth 1 For mention of such individuals, cf. inter alia : L. N. Dembitz, "Jewish Beginnings in Kentucky", PAJHS I, 100. H. Cohen, "The Settlement of Jews in Texas", PAJHS II, 139. M. Gratz, "Jacob Moardecai", PAJHS VI, 39. A. G. Moses, "The Jews of Mobile", PAJHS XII, 117, 118. D. E. Heineman, "Jewish Beginnings in Michigan before 1850", PAJHS XIII, 64. A. M. Friedenberg, "The Jews of New Jersey to 1850", PAJHS XVII, 33. B. McKelvey, "The Jews of Rochester", PAJHS XL, 63. H. T. Ezekiel and G. Lichtenstein, History of the Jews of Richmond, 1769-1917 (Richmond, Va., 1917), pp. 33, 94, 122. A. A. Lebeson, Pilgrim People. (N.Y. 1950), p. 182. M. A. Gutstein, The Story of the Jews of Newport (N.Y. 1936), pp. 74, 198. 2 Jewish Chronicle, Vol. IV, No. 280 (Nov. 1, 1847). s Ibid., Vol. IV, Nov. 12, 1847. 4 Occident, Vol. I, No. 7, Oct., 1843. And Souvenir History and Program, Kahal Kodesh Bene Israel (Cincinnati, 1949). s J. Picciotto, Sketches of Anglo-Jewish History (London, 1875), p. 271. 2nd. ed. (1956), p. 262.</page><page sequence="8">238 ANGLO-JEWRY AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF AMERICAN JEWISH LIFE, 1775-1850 Elohim followed the ritual of the Spanish-Portuguese synagogues in London and Amster? dam.1 The oldest American synagogue, Shearith Israel, was founded in New York in 1654-5 by Portuguese Marranos. By the beginning of the 18th century, English Jews had begun to immigrate to New York and within four decades formed a significant portion of New York Jewry. When the first Shearith Israel building was planned in 1728-30, seven London families contributed to the building fund, while a Londoner, Abraham Mocatta, offered ?150 if the congregation would give over ownership of the building and lease, which he would return at the dedication of the synagogue. The plan was legally impossible. London and Curacao Jews contributed substantially to the first building fund, while the school building, added in 1735, was given entirely by Jacob Mendes da Costa of London. Shearith Israel not only maintained close family and financial ties with Bevis Marks, but sought from the older synagogue advice and ministerial assistance. In 1759 the congregation hired the Londoner, Joseph Jessurun Pinto, and paid his fare back to London in 1766. The forms of the London synagogue provided a model for Shearith Israel; in 1748 the organizational structure of Bevis Marks was adopted in New York, while the pension system of the London synagogue was copied in the 1760's for the benefit of the ill, aged, and impoverished. Considerable correspondence passed between the two synagogues.2 The second synagogue in New York, B'nai Jeshurun, was founded in 1825 by Ashkenazim from England and Germany, with Anglo-Jewish officers such as John I. Hart, son of the reader of Portsmouth, England. Funds for remodelling the synagogue building, a few years after its founding, came from Liverpool, London, and the West Indies, as well as from the congregation. Readers were sought through the Jewish Chronicle, and in one case inquiries on an applicant were directed to the Great Synagogue and to the Portsmouth Synagogue.3 Between 1825 and 1845 eight new congregations were founded in New York City, of which seven were of Polish and German membership.4 The eighth, Shaarey Tefilah, founded in 1845, was dominated by English Jews who had seceded from B'nai Jeshurun when their influence had diminished with an influx of German members.5 The minister of B'nai Jeshurun, S. M. Isaacs, who had come from Liverpool in 1839, joined the secessionists. The British orthodox monthly, Kos Yeshuoth, published by Isaacs' brother, reported the dedication ceremony in full.6 The new synagogue followed events in British Jewry with great interest, and congratulated Chief Rabbi Adler on his election in 1845. Jewish worship had been informally carried on in Philadelphia since 1747, but it was only during the War of Independence in 1782 that a synagogue was founded formally. Mikve Israel never had an appreciable number of Anglo-Jewish members but, because of its Sephardic orientation, it corresponded regularly with Bevis Marks. Its first 1 B. A. Elzas, Jews of South Carolina, pp. 32, 33, 36, 41. 2 D.D. Pool, The Mill Street Synagogue (1730-1817) ofthe Congregation Shearith Israel (N.Y., 1930), pp. 4, 21-22. J. R. Marcus, Early American Jewry, Vol. I, 84, 88. H. B. Grinstein, The Rise of the Jewish Community of New York, 1654-1860, pp. 68, 134, 366. 3 I. Goldstein, A Century of Judaism in New York, B'nai Jeshurun, 1825-1925 (N.Y., 1930), pp. 45, 51, 54, 75. 4 Grinstein, op. cit. 472-4. 6 Ibid. 50. 6 The Cup of Salvation (Liverpool) Vol. I, p. 336 (Aug., 1846).</page><page sequence="9">ANGLO-JEWRY AND THE DEFELOPMENT OF AMERICAN JEWISH LIFE, 1775-1850 239 minister, the American-born Hazan, Gershom M. Seixas, was followed within a year by an English-trained minister, Rev. Jacob Raphael Cohen, reader in Montreal after training in London. He served in Philadelphia until his death in 1811, and his son officiated for the next four years. In 1815 a second English Jew, Emanuel Nunes Carvalho, previously at Barbados and Charleston, was elected, and served until his death in 1817. A third English minister, Abraham Israel Keys, was elected in 1824; he too had come from the West Indies. After his death in 1828, a German rabbi, Isaac Leeser, was chosen. Contact with Bevis Marks remained cordial, though not so close as that of Shearith Israel with the London synagogue, and in 1823 Bevis Marks gave ?50 to the Philadelphia congregation.1 It is interesting to note that a later synagogue in Philadelphia, Beth Israel, of Polish membership declared in 1840 that its ritual would "be conducted on the principle of the Great Synagogue in London".2 The statutes of the older synagogues, Beth Elohim, in Charleston, and Shearith Israel in New York, bear close resemblance to those at Bevis Marks. The whole system of fines and punishments at the London congregation applied in Charleston and New York.3 There are other similarities among the statutes of the three synagogues.4 All considered themselves co-extensive with the Jewish community. Charleston followed London in forbidding proselytization.5 All three synagogues were severely autocratic in structure, and the power of the Parnass in London was maintained almost unrestricted in America.6 It is to be realized, of course, that similar parallels might easily have been drawn between the statutes of two American synagogues and those of other Sephardic congregations in Europe. Hence it cannot be concluded that the eclectic Americans had necessarily copied the English statutes; on the other hand, the presence of numbers of English Jews in Charleston and New York would lead to the belief that it was to London and not to Venice or Amsterdam that they had looked for guidance. The Chief Rabbinate in London provided a force for conservatism in American Jewish life. The Chief Rabbi, particularly during the tenure of Solomon Hirschell, had been accustomed to dealing with the needs of Anglo-Jewry overseas, particularly in Australia and South Africa. These Jews had actively sought his guidance.7 It was 1 Morais, Jews of Philadelphia, 10-14, 18, 43, 44. A. M. Hyamson, Sephardim of England (London, 1951), p. 148. 2 Morais, op. cit. 83-4. 3 B. A. Elzas, op. cit. 289. On the similarity of statutes, cf. U. Z. Engelman, "Jewish Education in Charleston, South Carolina, in the 18th and 19th Centuries", PAJHS XLII, 43; and B. A. Elzas, op. cit. 147-9. 4 The Statutes are found as follows : M. Gaster, History of the Ancient Synagogue of Spanish and Portuguese Jews (London, 1901), p. 14. Constitution of the Hebrew Congregation of Kaal Kodesh Beth Elohim (Charleston S. C. 1820). Reprinted by B. A. Elzas, Charleston, 1904. Rule VIII. Constitution and Bye-Laws of Congregation Shearith Israel, 1805. Reprinted, N.Y., No date. Article X. 5 See above : Charleston, Article XXIII. 6 Charleston, Rule VI. New York, Bylaws, Art. I, Sect. 2; Art. II, Sect. 1. 7 From a report of the Sydney (Australia) Synagogue in 1845, quoted in "The Chief Rabbinate and Early Australian Jewry", unsigned article in Australian Jewish Historical Society Journal and Proceedings, Vol. II, pt. 9, p. 473. The Australians write: Your committee would also remind you that as British Jews it is necessary we should not throw off the connection which binds us to our mother country, and that having no spiritual guide of our own, we should place ourselves under the protection of the Chief Rabbi of England.</page><page sequence="10">240 ANGLO-JEWRY AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF AMERICAN JEWISH LIFE, 1775-1850 not unnatural for the Chief Rabbi likewise to take an active interest in the religious life of American Jewry. Hirschell wrote, for example : "I should feel happy were a man to arise in the light of whose learning and virtue the community of America could walk in uprightness according to our holy law. But until that is the case, the intimate connection between your country and England renders it imperative on me to remonstrate against. . . improper practices".1 The Beth Din of Bevis Marks likewise took an interest in the religious life of American Jewry. On one occasion, in 1791, Shearith Israel consulted the Beth Din of London on a question of funerary practice; as late as 1855, the leaders of Shearith Israel were con? sulting London on similar questions.2 The London authorities did not have great confidence in American procedures.3 While other congregations of American Jews had on their own initiative consulted London authorities during colonial times and afterward, it was only after the establish? ment of B'nai Jeshurun in 1825 that such transatlantic consultation became common. Having been reared in the traditions of the Great Synagogue in London, some members of B'nai Jeshurun looked to it and its Rabbi Hirschell for guidance. Even those who had come from other European countries were ready to accept the proferred guidance of the Chief Rabbi. Particularly when difficult matters of law arose, touching fundamental questions such as the validity of a marriage or eligibility for interment in a Jewish ceme? tery, the authority of the Chief Rabbinate was wilhngly invoked. The correspondence between Hirschell and B'nai Jeshurun touched a wide variety of subjects, including divorce, conversion, the proper construction of a mikvah, and the like. On more than one occasion the Chief Rabbi requested B'nai Jeshurun to convey his wishes to other Ashkenazic synagogues in America; non-English groups such as the German synagogue, Anshe Chesed, likewise accepted British authority. Even after the English group had seceded to form Shaarey Tefilah in 1845, the congregation continued to consult the Chief Rabbinate, as in 1847 when The Rev. Ansel Leo (an English Jew from the Western Synagogue, London) the minister at B^nai Jeshurun (1847-1855), wrote concerning the possibility of women singing at the consecration of a synagogue. Even the Sephardic synagogue in Charleston corresponded with the Great Synagogue. In many ways, then, the dicta of the Chief Rabbi touched the lives of American Jews.4 The authority of the Chief Rabbi and the Sephardic Beth Din began to diminish when American Jewry had its own competent religious leaders. While, as we have seen, 1 Quoted in a letter of Hirschell to a New York correspondent warning against unauthorised divorces, in I. Goldstein, "Ritual Questions", Studies in Jewish Bibliography and Related Subjects in Memory of Abraham Solomon Freidus (N.Y., 1929), p. 378. 2 A. M. Hyamson, op. cit., p. 148. 3 For example : Minutes of the Beth Din, unpublished manuscript. Roth, Documents, 267, p. 48b. "A female proselyte presented herself to the Bet Din. She is living with Judah son of Gershom and has had three children. She brings evidence that she has already become converted in America, but since we do not know whether it is a reliable Bet Din and since we have no evidence that she is the lady mentioned in it [the written evidence] we think it best to reintroduce her to Judaism." 4 I. Goldstein, A Century of Judaism, 83-4, 323-5. Grinstein, op. cit., 486-7. Occident, Vol. 5, No. 5, Aug., 1847.</page><page sequence="11">ANGLO-JEWRY AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF AMERICAN JEWISH LIFE, 1775-1850 241 from the earliest times readers and other functionaries had come from Britain,1 it was only in the late 1830's and 1840's that fully qualified ministers began corning to America, from England and Germany. Rev. S. 2VL Isaacs had come in 1839; Isaac Leeser in 1829, from Germany; and several New York rabbis including Leo Merzbacher and Max Lilienthal had come from Germany. The first "glamour rabbi"2 in America was Morris J. Raphall, who came to New York in 1849. Raphall had been trained in England and served Chief Rabbi Hirschell as secretary, achieving a great reputation later in a ministry at Birmingham. Raphall was the first Jewish minister to deliver an opening prayer before Congress. With the coming of men like Isaacs, Raphall, and the Germans, men at last had arisen in the light of whose learning American Jewry might walk in uprightness. It was not wholly fortuitous that some such men had come from England. Though few in number, English Jews had a discernible impact on the national scene of American Jewry. They were active in the several movements leading toward a united Jewish community in America. When the Damascus affair "awoke Western Jewry to a recognition of their responsibility to their less fortunate brethren,"3 New York Jewry followed the pattern of English action and held a protest meeting; it was called by a committee formed by S. I. Joseph, of British birth; other meetings were held in Philadelphia, under the chairmanship of John Moss, an Englishman, as noted earlier; in Cincinnati and Rich? mond. Out of this affair came many proposals for an organization to unite the American synagogues. One man in particular, Isaac Leeser of Philadelphia, a German Jew, sought effectively through the columns of his Occident to arouse interest in the matter and issued invitations for a national conference in 1841, and again in 1845 and 1849. By 1849 several others joined him, particularly two German rabbis as well as S. M. Isaacs and Robert Lyon of New York and A. A. Lindo, an English Jew in Cincinnati.4 Lindo, like Leeser, had been working for such a union before 1849 and had set forth a concrete plan for a Chamber of Deputies of American Israelites "on a plan similar to the Board of Deputies of British Jews now existing in England."5 He had hoped to see such a Chamber founded in New York, as the Board of Deputies in England had grown up, "the larger community having proposed its views for general acceptance".6 Lindo 1 An incomplete summary of these ministers follows : Charleston : Moses Cohen, 1750 Isaac da Costa 1750-1764 Abraham Alexander 1764-1784 Abraham Azuby 1785-1805 New York : B'nai Jeshurun S. M. Isaacs, 1839-1845 M. J. Raphall, 1849-1866 Shearith Israel Joseph Jessurun Pinto?1759-1766 Philadelphia : Jacob Raphael Cohen?1785-1811 Emanuel Nunes Carvalho?1815-1817 Abraham Israel Keys?1824-1829 2 Cf. B. W. Korn, "American Jewish Life a Century Ago", Yearbook of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (Phila., 1949). LIX, and "Rabbis, Prayers, and Legislatures", HUC Annual XVIII (Cincinnati, 1944), p. 100 passim. 3 Grinstein, op. cit. 439. 4 Ibid. 424. Lindo was born in Jamaica, but had lived for many years in London and on the Isle of Wight. He worked with Dr. Raphall in Birmingham on the Hebrew Review, had return? ed to Jamaica and came to Cincinnati three years before his death. Cf. obituary in The Occident, Vol. VII, No. 7, Oct., 1849. 5 Jewish Chronicle, Vol. V, No. 6, Nov. 10, 1848. 6 The Occident, Vol. VI, No. 6, Sept., 1848.</page><page sequence="12">242 ANGLO-JEWRY AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF AMERICAN JEWISH LIFE, 1775-1850 travelled widely to interest people in union, but the invitation of 1849 was accepted by only one synagogue from New York, the English Shaarey Tefilah.1 In 1858 the Mortara affair shocked American Jewry to action. A mass meeting was organized in New York under S. M. Isaacs' chairmanship; more than 2,000 attend? ed.2 A few months later, the Rev. Mr. Isaacs' synagogue, Shaarey Tefilah, formed a committee to call upon other New York congregations for the election of delegates to a permanent board of representatives of the Jews of America.3 Nine synagogues sent representatives, and a general meeting was called, to be held in New York in November, 1859. To this meeting came representatives of eleven New York synagogues and eleven synagogues in other cities. Henry Hart, a member of Shaarey Tefilah, was elected president, Mr. Isaacs' son was chosen secretary, and Isaac Leeser and another German Jew were vice-presidents. The new organization was to be called "The Board of Delegates of American Israelites", and it was frankly patterned after the British Board of Deputies, and cooperated with that organization.4 In summary, the influence of English Jews on the development of American Jewry in this period has been discernible in three areas; first, in the life of the synagogue, for as we have seen, British Jews founded several synagogues and the Chief Cabbi guided the practices of several others ; second, in the life of the Jewish community, as English Jews, by virtue of their special qualifications, provided a common ground of action for disparate elements in Jewry; and finally, in the national life of American Jewry, as British Jews took the lead in achieving some kind of national unity in American Jewry. In this interesting span of seventy-five years, the English element in American Jewish life was in many ways an important component. 1 Grinstein, op. cit. 425. 2 Ibid., 430. 3 Ibid., 433. 4 Ibid., 434. Cf. M. J. K?hler, "The Board of Delegates of American Israelites, 1859-1878 " PAJHS XXIX, 76. Also C. H. Emanuel, A Century and a Half of Jewish History (London, 1910), p. 83.</page></plain_text>