In the Beginning: 1854
Each week The American Israelite will print an item from the first year of our publication, 1854.
To the Editor of The Israelite
Dear Sir, — Permit me to express my entire satisfaction with the mode of worship in Lodge Street Synagogue. I was solemnly impressed with divine ideas on hearing the sublime tunes befitting so entirely the Psalms of Israel.
The service of this synagogue is in the ancient Jewish style, still it is improved in such a skillful manner, that I charmed myself back to the days, when the sons of daughters of the Levites sung divine hymns in the temple of Solomon.
Permit me to state that I have to wish but two more things; First that the choir was assisted by a good and powerful organ; and seance that all our synagogues be reformed In this way.
—December 22, 1854
150 YEARS AGO
The Tomb of Esther
In the present famine-stricken city of Hamadan, in Persia, stands a plain brick structure, raising its dome above the houses of the Jews. This place is regarded by all the Jews of Persia as peculiarly sacred. Hither they come up on pilgrimage with something of the spirit in which their fathers sought the gates of Jerusalem. They fully believe that here are buried their heroic queen, Esther, and her uncle, Mordecai. The tomb edifice consists of a square room with projects on its sides, the whole between thirty and forty feet square, or nearly square, and surmounted by a cylindrical tower and dome, nearly forty feet in height. On the summit of the dome is a very common crown of ruins in the East, a stork’s nest. The appearance from without is of square brick mausoleum, built for strength rather than beauty, and slowly falling to decay. The open midan, or round about the tomb, is equally uninviting. It is used by the Mussulmans as a wood and timber market, and on the day we visited it, was piled with newly cut trees, branches, and fuel. There is not a spear or grass, or leaf, or flower near the tomb, but much that is offensive and filthy.
Inside, under the dome stand two Chets or arks, shaped as sarcophagi, made of every hard place wood and curiously carved in relief, in Hebrew letters, and apparently very ancient.
The larger sarcophagus is Esther’s. Upon it is written or carved in reef, “This is the Sarcophagus of Esther the Righteous,” and upon the smaller one, “This is the Sarcophagus of Mordecai the Righteous.”
Editor’s Note: The site of Esther's tomb is in Hamadan, in modern Iran. The tomb itself was first mentioned in the 11th century, and the mausoleum described above was constructed in the 1600s.
The notion that the tomb holds the remains of Esther and Mordechai is a tradition supported among Iranian Jews, though it has not spread beyond that population. It is thought that the remains interred at the site may actually be those of Shushandukht, a Jewish woman who was married to Yazdegerd I of the Sasanian Empire ca. 400 CE. Despite this possibility, The remains are officially unidentified.
Prince Nicolai, the brother of the Emperor of Russia is expected in Jerusalem. He is now traveling in Syria.
The languages most extensively spoken are English, by ninety millions; German, seventy-five; Spanish, fifty five; French, forty-five, and Italian, thirty five.
The funeral of Horace Greeley and the eulogies sent after him by his political opponents, show how many liars and hypocrites there are at work to make up the political crew of a country. If we had not here and there an honest man among them, the whole crew would be ripe for hell, and the sun should shine on them only by virtue of the horses, dogs, and cats depending upon them.
—December 20, 1872
125 YEARS AGO
As a popular holiday the Chanukah is beautiful, so are the ceremonies and observances connected with it, especially the social features and the children's days of gladness. It is elevating to remember how heroic patriots sacrificed all that is dear to man to save Israel’s sublime faith and achieve the victory of liberty, independence, and glory over the enemies of truth, righteousness and humanity. It is so rare a case among the nations of the world that right overwhelms might, that every such heroic deed should be freely commemorated, as a consolation for sufferers and hope for the oppressed and persecuted, telling us ever anew, how right will sometimes overawe might, and may with the help of God, repeat itself in our state of distress. The Chanukah is all right and nice and lovely, but it is no special commandment of God as our orthodox friends assert in that Berachah which we changed, to give it the right and fair expression of a righteous sentiment.
At Brunswick, Ga., our representative, Mr. Max Isaac, has been admitted to the practice of law, after passing an examination upon the brilliancy of which Judge Sweat complimented him most highly.
“The Jewish Times” of Montreal, Canada, is he latest addition to Jewish journalism. In its introductory it states that there are 7,000 Jews in Montreal and about 15,000 in the whole dominion of Canada.
— December 23, 1897
100 YEARS AGO
Jews of Schenectady, N.Y., inaugurated a drive for a Jewish community house last week. The goal is $100,000 and $25,000 was subscribed on the opening day.
Ground will be broken on December 13 for a new wing to be erected by the Jewish Hospital of Brooklyn. The new wing, which will be five stories in height, will have 100 private rooms and will cost $250,000.
Editor’s Note: The estimated cost of building the new hospital wing equates to about 4.4 million dollars today.
Now that the possibility of aerial flight with heavier than air machines has been established, it is well to remember that Otto Lillenthal, a German mechanical engineer and a Jew, advanced the theory as far back as 1891. However, his idea was soaring, of which he gave several practical demonstrations, but finally met death during one of these experiments at Rhinow in 1896.
— December 21, 1922
75 YEARS AGO
American Jewish Archives Founded at the Hebrew Union College
Establishment of the American Jewish Archives for collection and study of important American jewish historical materials was announced here today by Dr. Nelson Glueck, president of the Hebrew Union College.
This is the only department of its kind west of the Alleghenies.
Dr. Jacob R. Marcus, who occupies the Adolph S. Ochs Chair in Jewish History at the College, is the director of the Archives. The nearest similar department is that in the Library of the American Jewish Historical Society in New York City.
Dr. Marcus said that the Archives will emphasize religious material and welcomes originals or copies of manuscripts not only from congregations but from their affiliated organizations, such as the Sisterhoods, Brotherhoods, and social groups.
Dr. Glueck, in announcing establishment of the Archives, said: “I cannot conceive of any more important task than that of preserving the records of the present American Jewish community, the greatest in the world today.”
Cincinnati Social and Personal
Dr. David Philipson has been re-elected president and Mr. Martin Low has been re-elected to the board of the Citizenship Council.
Mr. and Mrs. Jack I. Bogdan, 722 Chalfonte Place, announce the bar mitzvah of their youngest son, Gordon, Saturday morning, Dec. 27th, at the Avondale Synagog, Reading Road and Lexington Avenue.
— December 18, 1947
50 YEARS AGO
Rockdale Honors Mr., Mrs. Schloss
Several hundred friends of Mr. and Mrs. Milton J. Schloss gathered to honor them Thursday, Dec. 14, at a Bonds for Israel dinner at Rockdale Temple.
The speaker was Gideon Rafael, former Israel ambassador to the UN and an advisor to Foreign Minister Abba Eban.
He paid a warm tribute to the generosity and participation of American Jews in helping to bring Israel to this day of strength and achievement.
Mr. and Mrs. Theodore B. Michaelis are proud to announce the forthcoming Bar Mitzvah of their son, David E., Saturday, Dec. 23, at 10:45 a.m., at Plum Street Temple, 8th and Plum Streets.
Friends and relatives are cordially invited to worship with the family and attend the Kiddish following services.
Mr. and Mrs. Burton A. Dietch, formerly of Cincinnati and now of Bethesda, Md., announce the forthcoming Bar Mitzvah of their son, Michael, January 6, 1973, at Bethesda.
Michael is the grandson of Mrs. Tillie Hartman, of Cincinnati, and Mrs. Rose Finkel, of Miami.
—December 21, 1972
25 YEARS AGO
Jewish Federation wins grant to help immigrants
The Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, as part of the Ohio consortium, has ben selected as one of 15 Jewish Federations across the nation to receive grant funding from the Council of Jewish Federations to provide naturalization services and programs for elderly and disabled refugees and legal immigrants.
Cincinnati will receive a portion of the $75,000 award, part of a $1.3 million grant recently awarded to CJF from the Emma Lazarus Fund (ELF) of the Open Society Institute. The grant will be used to supplement existing efforts as well as create new services of programs to help 533 of Ohio’s legal immigrants and refugees who would be excluded from vital public programs under the 1996 welfare law to attain U.S. Citizenship.
BB will deliver baked goods to police, fire fighters
B’nai B’rith of Greater Cincinnati will be delivering trays of baked goods to police and fire stations in the Greater Cincinnati area once again this year.
This is a service to the community that has been repeated every year for the last 30 years. B’nai B’rith volunteers from the community deliver the trays of home baked goods on Christmas to the police and firefighters who work hard to keep their community safe.
— December 25, 1997
10 YEARS AGO
Wise Temple prepares Jewish teens to teach
The Wise Temple Madrichim program for teen religious school teaching assistants is proud to share our latest addition: an in-depth course for all ninth grade madrichim, consisting of an innovative combination of training and hands-on experience. This year, our freshmen rotate between working in a classroom setting one week and learning about their new role the next week. This new model is called the JET program, for Jewish Educators-in-Training.
Fusion Family rolls in the New Year with Rock and Roll Shabbat
Let the good times roll! Interfaith families in the Jewish community are in for a “wheel” big evening of fun when Fusion Family presents its first ever Rock and “Roll” Shabbat: A Friday Night Skate and Dinner Date at Castle Skateland in Loveland on Friday, Jan. 18, featuring a DJ, group games on the rink, family free skate and a traditional sit-down Shabbat dinner with a ‘50s-style twist!
The party kicks-off with private rink time just for Fusion families beginning at 5 p.m. when guests can take to the floor and play some popular old-school skating games such as the Hokey Pokey and participate in a Conga line and the Chicken Dance plus there’ll be lots of time for free-skating fun. Then, at 7 p.m. everyone will be treated to a sit-down Shabbat dinner, featuring the kind of familY-friendly ‘50s diner-Style food served during the heyday of rock ‘n roll. After dinner, guests will get to enjoy free skating until 10 p.m.
—December 20, 2012
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.