Page 208 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 50

Basic HTML Version

2. A beautifully illuminated title page opens the record book
Hevrat Gemilut Hesed Ha-Amerikai
(The American Benevolent
Society) for the aid of indigent Jews of Safed, Palestine. The
constitution, by-laws and financial records make this 1924 vol­
ume a most valuable witness to the ongoing, far-ranging phil­
anthropic projects of American Jewry for the Holy Land.
3. In 1844, more than half a century before Herzl, Mordecai
M. Noah urged the “Restoration of the Jews” to their ancestral
homeland, and laid out a program for the ingathering and set­
tlement of the dispersed nation, anticipating many of the em­
phases of classical Zionism. The collection has not only the pub­
lished pamphlet but also Leeser’s critique and Noah’s response,
newspaper accounts in America, and an attack on the proposal
in Vienna’s Hebrew periodical,
Bikkurei Ha-Ittim.
4. Two letters from Raphael Judah Levy, founder of the
modern Jewish community in Jaffa, were sent in 1854 to “the
Officers and Leaders” of the Jews in America. In the first, he
asks that a water pump be sent to irrigate the citrus grove upon
which many Jewish families in the Jaffa area are dependent
for their livelihood. The second asks for support for Jewish
families working the land and receiving instruction in the art
of agriculture by American Christians who have come to the
Holy Land under the leadership of Albert Minor.
5. In his will, American Jewish philanthropist Judah Touro
left $60,000 to be used in aid of impoverished Jews in the Holy
Land through the good offices of Sir Moses Montefiore. In
1856, Sir Moses and Lady Judith, accompanied by Tou ro ’s ad­
visor on Jewish matters, came to Jerusalem to begin the imple­
mentation of Tou ro ’s instructions. Jacob Saphir, scribe to the
Jerusalem Ashkenazi community, wrote a long poem of wel­
Gai Hizayon,
which the community published. Stanza 20
extols the American’s generosity; its footnote describes the be­
6. We have noted Montefiore’s letter to M. Heyman in Cal­
ifornia, acknowledging receipt of his donation for the poor of
the Holy Land. A quarter of a century later, in 1885, leaders
of the East European immigrant Jewish community in Roch­
ester, New York, received a letter of gratitude from Jerusalem
for the $35 they had sent. The most prominent signature on
the letter is that of Samuel Salant, Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem.
7. Among the most interesting maps of modern Palestine is