Page 205 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 42

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SARN A /TH E LITERARY CONTRIBUTIONS OF NOAH
197
United States: the only country that has given civil and religious
rights to the Jews equal with all other sects; the only country
which has not persecuted them, selected and pointedly distin­
guished in prophecy as
the
nation which, at the proper time, shall
present to the Lord his chosen and trodden-down people, and
pave the way for their restoration to Zion.”25) He knew that the
only way he could garner support for the cause he considered so
critical to the betterment o f Jewish life was to insist that it would
benefit every one: Jews would have their own state, Christians
would bask in the rewards reserved for those who furthered mil­
lennial aims, and Americans generally would enjoy the satisfac­
tion o f knowing that theirs was the land described by Isaiah (18:1)
as that land destined by God to play a crucial role in the whole
restoration process.
Noah occasionally addressed his ideas to Jews alone. But
though in these writings he may have been more parochial, he
nevertheless urged American Jews to chart a more liberal course
than that advocated by “defenders o f the faith,” who, like Rabbi
Abraham Rice o f Baltimore, condemned innovations o f every
sort. As an integrationist leader, Noah believed that Jews had to
learn to accommodate themselves to the world at large.26He thus
supported secular education. The “Hebrew College” that he once
proposed was to be a place where children could obtain
both
“a
classical education, and at the same time be properly instructed in
the Hebrew Language.”27He also put forward a number o f ideas
for religious reform: “I should . . . be gratified i f we could intro­
duce in our prayers, a portion o f the language o f the country in
order that we may better comprehend the great responsibilities
o f our faith. We might also curtail many repetitions, and intro­
duce some beneficial changes.” (In the same breath, however, he
warned that “there are great dangers in all innovations on an es­
tablished religion.”28) Finally, he advocated a more tolerant view
o f Christianity insisting, in an address to Jews assembled at
Shearith Israel on Thanksgiving Day, 1848, that “there is enough
25 Ibid, pp. 49-50; cf. Sarna
, Jacksonian Jew,
pp. 152-157.
26 Jonathan D. Sarna “The Spectrum o f Jewish Leadership in Ante-Bellum
America,”
Journal o f American Ethnic History,
1 (Spring 1982), pp. 59-67.
27 Sarna
, Jacksonian Jew,
pp. 127-128.
28 Ibid, pp. 137-142; cf. Mordecai M.
Noah , Address Delivered at the Hebrew Syna­
gogue in Crosby-Street, New York, on Thanksgiving Day, to Aid in the Erection o f the
Temple at Jerusalem
(Jamaica, 1849), p. 16.