This Hebrew literary journal featured writing by the famous and non-so-famous Orthodox rabbis in Germany (and even Hungarian rabbis like R. Moshe Schick) on a variety of topics, ranging from responsa, to chiddushim, to polemics, to poetry, to educational concerns, as well as news.
There's a fascinating section in one particular responsum printed in the 5 Shevat 1853 number (#144, pg. 287). The piece is called תשובה במה שחדשו המתחדשים בעניני בית הכנסת, "Responsum concerning the synagogue innovations of the Reform," by Rabbi Abraham Sutro, av beis din of Münster (1784-186). Rabbi Sutro happens to have been the teacher of Isaac Leeser who was already the leading exponent of traditional Judaism in the United States, a one-man literary whirlwind. Rabbi Sutro was an early exponent of Torah 'im Derech Eretz, propounding it as the proper path and using that precise term for it, even before Hirsch. See, e.g., his first volume of 'מלחמות ה (Hanover 1836; subsequently he published three more volumes with that name between 1862 and 64). He writes the following on page 11:
In any case, in the responsum on synagogue Reforms, he answers three questions. Is it permitted to use an organ on Shabbos? Is it proper to summon people to the Torah by means of a card (קארטען) instead of calling them by their Hebrew name, א ben ב? Is it proper for the synagogue gabbaim to hush people and prevent them from praying loudly and with intensity? You know what the answers are.
Specifically regarding the second question, he begins by stating that the intention of the Reformers is to wipe out Jewish names - "דע כי כל מגמת המחדשים אלו שלא הזכיר שם ישראל עוד ." After a lengthy paragraph citing his halachic sources - this is the lengthiest of the three responsa - he adds another reason why it is a bad thing to give cards and refrain from calling up people by name:
"They also do not realize what anyone who knows current events does, regarding prisons, specifically in Siberia, where the harshness of the punishment for rebels and murderers is that they are no longer referrred to by their name. They are only called "1st, 2nd, 3rd" in order that they should not be remembered and counted any more. Think of the foolishess of these fools. They think by calling people to the Torah in this way that they're honoring them, but actually they are degrading them, causing them to be like people without names like low people. Really we should be very sad for them; and by maintaining our practice we fulfill 'forsake not the teaching of thy mother.'
I thought the reference to Siberian prisons and the dehumanization of prisoners by only calling them by number was interesting.
Here are two pictures of Rabbi Sutro:
No doubt you are wondering what it says in the open volume. The import of his surname was not lost on anyone. Here it is:
The medal he is wearing in the second picture, from 1861, signifies his being awarded membership by the Prussian king in the Order of the Red Eagle, fourth class - whatever that means.