Page 202 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 50

Basic HTML Version

could not bear the burden of a $4,000 mortgage and “other
liabilities,” chief among them the damage done by a boiler ex­
plosion, so they solicited aid through a printed broadside.
On June 28, 1874, two small immigrant prayer groups in
Rochester, New York, joined to form that city’s first East Eu­
ropean Jewish congregation, Beth Israel. Three bound volumes
recording 845 meetings of the congregation from 1874 to 1912,
as well as a dozen record books and ledgers, form one of the
most complete sets of records of an East European congregation
in America. In 1892, two Orthodox congregations in Portland,
Maine, joined to issue a rabbinic contract to Rabbi Hyman
Lasker. Rabbinical duties and prerogatives are spelled out in
detail and signed by the forty-two members of the community.
A rabbinic contract which Rabbi Lasker received in a small Rus­
sian town prior to his coming to America, and a contract offered
him by the Orthodox community of Buffalo (which he did not
accept) help make these documents a grand source for rabbinic
duties and rewards in the Old World and the New.
The Constitution and By-Laws of the Beth Hamedrash Hagadol of
the City of New York, Founded in 1852 . . . Revised and adopted
at a Special Meeting, March 20th, 1887,
New York, 1887, was
issued in both English and Yiddish. O f the latter, this collection’s
copy is one of the two recorded ones; of the former, it is the
only copy recorded.
The high utility of a “most extensive” collection to the student-
scholar can be demonstrated by clusters of printed items that
the researcher can join together. Certainly one of the landmarks
in the American Jewish historical experience is George Wash­
ington’s letter “To the HEBREW CONGREGATION in New­
port, Rhode Island,” in which America’s first president dis­
courses upon the nature of the American political ethos, and
the place of the Jews within it:
It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was
by the indulgence o f one class o f people that another enjoyed
the excercise o f their inherent natural rights. For happily the
government o f the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanc­
tion, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who
live under its protection should demean themselves as good cit-