Page 53 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 38

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KABAKOFF / THE AMERICAN HAMEASSEF
43
T h e programmatic article in
Hameassef
by Mordecai Jalom-
stein, entitled “ T o Our Brethren W ho Understand H eb rew ,” p ro ­
vides the details o f the Society’s found ing. A larm ed ove r the
neglect o f the H eb rew language and literature, a number o f
Hebrew maskilim met on February 22, 1880, at the home o f a Mr.
Salinsky and decided to establish a society which would maintain a
public reading room . T h e members o f the initial group included
Kasriel Hersch Sarasohn, Zvi Hirsch Bernstein, Moses Aaron
Schreiber, Judah David Eisenstein and others.
T h e fo llow ing week a second meeting was convened at the
home o f M eir Reuben Levy to draw up by-laws. It was decided to
rent two rooms from the Hebrew school located at 105 East
Broadway. A n invitation was issued to all Hebraists to attend the
first open meeting and the annual dues were set at $3.00. A c co rd ­
ing to a repo rt by Eisenstein which appeared in the European
Hazefirah
on A p r i l 6, 1880, 60 members jo in ed the Society.
O P E N IN G M E E T IN G
T h e Society’s public reading room was opened on the second
day o f Passover with a ceremony attended by over 200 people.
Mordecai Jalomstein was put in charge and was also appointed as
secretary. In his repo rt on the first year o f the Society’s activities,
included in
Hameasssef,
he listed among the lecturers at its meet­
ings such men as: Dr. Abraham S. Isaacs, editor o f the
Jewish
Messenger',
Dr. A a ron Wise, rabbi o f Rodeph Sholom; K .H .
Sarasohn; M .A . Schreiber; T .F . Schapiro; Aaron Lieberman,
form er editor o f the Socialist
H a ’emet;
Moses We inberger; Jacob
Soble; J.D. Eisenstein and M. Jalomstein. Some 441 books had
been presented or loaned to the Society. O f these, more than ha lf
came from Eisenstein. O ver twenty periodicals in Hebrew and
other languages, including the lead ing European publications,
were made available. On weekdays an average o f 25 readers
visited the read ing room , while an average o f 75 used it on
weekends.
Jalomstein listed the income fo r the first year as $250.75. Th is
sum included full or partial membership fees from 148 members,
contributions and the proceeds from H igh Holyday services and
the loan o f books. A lso listed were the names o f nine honorary
members, who included such notables as Dr. Frederic de Sola
Mendes, Dr. H. Pereira Mendes, Dr. Aaron Wise and Judge