Page 202 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 42

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
religion, have merited, by their exemplary conduct, the
rights which they enjoy. They have been the constant,
unwavering friends o f the union; they took an active part in
the war o f the revolution, which secured, and ought to se­
cure to them, an equality o f privileges, in common with the
rest o f their fellow citizens. Forty years o f freedom have
strengthened and secured their attachment and devotion to
a country, which had broken down the barriers o f
superstition, in proclaiming and perpetuating civil and reli­
gious liberty.16
Noah offered a more lengthy exposition on Jews — complete
with learned footnotes — in his
Discourse Delivered at the Consecra­
tion o f the [Second M i ll Street] Synagogue o f Congregation Shearith Is­
rael
in 1818. In his oration, Noah cast himself in the role o f a
knowledgeable and experienced leader, enlightening and gently
prodding his people — whom he addressed as “we” — all the
while looking back over his shoulder to gauge the reaction o f the
outside world. He instructed his people as to their own history
and condition, traced Jewish rights in every country, and
concluded, patriotically, that “OUR COUNTRY [is] the bright
example o f universal tolerance, o f liberality, true religion, and
good faith.” America, he told his audience, was the Jewish peo­
ple’s “chosen country” — at least until Jews could “recover their
ancient rights and dominions, and take their rank among the
governments o f the earth.” In passing, Noah mentioned hatred
o f Jews, which he blamed on ignorance and jealousy. But he ex­
pressed more interest in Jewish survival and the future o f the
Jewish people. For Jewish survival, he credited a Divine miracle.
The ultimate destiny o f Jews — “restoration o f the Jewish nation
to their ancient rights and dominion” — he similarly left in God’s
hands. Jews’ immediate future, however, he willingly accepted as
his own personal concern.17
16 Mordecai M. Noah,
Correspondence and Documents Relative to the Attempt to Nego-
tiatef o r the Release o f the American Captives o f Algiers; including remarks on our rela­
tions with that regency
(Washington City, 1816), p. 126.
17 Mordecai M. Noah,
Discourse Delivered at the Consecration o f the Synagogue K .K.
Shearith Israel in the city o f New York on Friday, the 10th o f Nisan, 5578, correspond­
ing with the 17th o f April, 1818
(New York, 1818); Sarna,
Jacksonian Jew,
pp.
54-55.