Thursday, May 08, 2014

Better in the company of Shadal...

Here's a rather interesting little postscript to an 1860* letter from Jonas Bondi to Isaac Leeser:

It says, "In Jeschurun I am in the company of Luzzatto, better than Szold, Wise and Illoway."

This refers to the Jeschurun published by Joseph Kobak, not Samson Raphael Hirsch (of whom Bondi was a critic). And he is talking smack about some famous names among the American rabbis of his day - one of whom - Wise - would become his son-in-law! Apparently he liked the company in Jeschurun, but not the American Jewish publications of the day.

* Not 1865, as in the transcription here.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

An English letter from Rabbi Esriel Hildesheimer from 1865

This is an interesting piece that I found on the Isaac Leeser digital archive (link), a handwritten letter from Rabbi Esriel Hildesheimer to the Occident, dated 26 Adar 5625. The letter asks Leeser to print an English version of an account on behalf of the "Central Committee for Building Dwellings for the Poor and Pilgrims in Jerusalem," of which Rabbi Hildesheimer was a member, along with Rabbis Jacob Ettlinger of Altona and Joseph Hirsch of Halberstadt.

Here are two excerpts from the piece, as printed in the Occident, at Rabbi Hildesheimer's request:

Below is the transcription from the site, with some corrections of my own. (If you can make corrections to make the poor English-or should I say, Englisch-in the final line intelligible, here is the link, to the letter.) 

I don't know for sure if this is Rabbi Hildesheimer's own English, but I'd say - chances are.

To the rev. editor of the Occident

Eisenstadt 26 Adar 5625. 
Since the great interest which you have always shown for the 
wellfare (sic) of our brethren in all countries and particularly the unfor- 
tunate Jews of the Holy Land is known to me I have the liberty to 
send you the enclosed statutes etc of the dwellings which we are arecting (sic) on the holy ground and pray you to give insertion to it in your esteemed 
journal in at possible great parties. 
I have the honour to sign 
your humble
Dr. Hildesheimer

Monday, May 05, 2014

The only english Jew that ever wore his Beard

Here is a postscript from an 1853 letter from Samuel Hyman Cohen to Isaac Leeser. Writing from California, Cohen tells Leeser which family he is from, that he is the nephew of "Moses Eliezer Solomons 'ר משה עליעזר זלמן" [sic] "of London and the only english Jew that ever wore his Beard."

"Moses Eliezer Solomons" appears to be the father of Henry Naphthali Solomon (1796-1881), a pioneer in Jewish education in England - and the first cousin of this Samuel Hyman Cohen. The rest of the letter is fascinating, as he had spent several years in China, and tells Leeser about his contact with a Chinese Jew. At first the Jew did not believe he was Jewish, because he did not know שחיטה! But:
"I was verry (sic) ancious (sic) to obtain from him Information respecting the Jews and after showing him my מחזורים מזוזת ערבה כנפוס תפלין and explaining them to him, he said that he was satisfied that I was a Jew, he give me a Invitation to come out to see him..." 
Read the entire letter here.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

An ardent admirer of Jewish physiognomy

This guy *really* likes how Chasidim/ traditional east European Jewish men looked.

Adam Neale, writing in 1818, in his Travels through some parts of Germany, Poland, Moldavia, and Turkey.


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