Thursday, July 22, 2010

The selling of kibudim (honors) in London synagogues denounced in 1796.

In 1796 an anonymous book called A Peep into the Synagogue; or a Letter to the Jews appeared in London. Although it is assumed that it was written by a Jew (and indeed must have been, although perhaps one who converted to Christianity) I don't think it is known who wrote it to this day. Furthermore, copies are hard to come by. None of the digital archives seem to have it. However, below is a review which gives some interesting content:

And here's another review which takes the obnoxious tone by the author to task, calling it a "rude and illiberal attack." Even if the things are true, notes the reviewer, they ought to "be reproved by the gentle voice of candour":


  1. MiMedinat HaYam8:18 PM, July 22, 2010

    they should have opened a young israel!

  2. A gentler and funnier satire on the selling of synagogue honors (honours?) at that same time and place is found at the end of Israel Zangwill's "King of Schnorrers," where the title character pledges exorbitant sums of money in honor of his daughter's upcoming wedding, and then extorts the means to pay the pledges from various victims.

    The term "mitzvos" in the sense of "synagogue honors" seems to be a particularly British usage and is still prevalent there.

  3. I know this is an old post, butPolish and Galitzian Chasidim also refer to synagogue honors as mitzvos. Hungarians don't though.



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