Jews In New York 250 Years Part III

"About 1824 the English and German Jews began to come, and they have been followed by Hungarians, Austrians, Russians and Poles, and have hundreds of synagogues, while the Sephardic Hebrews have only the one.

"The growth of the Jewish community has been wonderful, and truly New York Hebrews have good reason to rejoice at the developments of the last two hundred and fifty years."

The growth of most of the Jewish congregations in size and wealth has kept pace with the commercial progress of their members. The splendid Temple Emanu-El in 5th avenue, for example is the outgrowth of a humble association, organized only sixty years ago. The first meetings were held in a room of a private dwelling house at Grand and Clinton streets. The seats for the first year were sold for $7 for men and $3 for women. In Temple Emanu-El pews are valued on an average at $300 and the building and ground represent an outlay of about $700,000.

Jews are to be found among the founders of the New York Stock Exchange in 1782. Of the nineteen men who entered into an agreement to buy and sell stocks only to each other, two were Jews, and two more were admitted to the association a short time later.

When the Revolutionary War broke out the Jews helped the patriots both with men and money. Haym Solomon furnished funds for the Continental army when it looked as if its defeat was inevitable. After New York was taken by the British he was thrown into the Provost Prison, which later was the old Hall of Records, and condemned to death. He only effected his escape by bribing the jailors with a large sum of gold. It is re corded that he advanced money to many prominent men in these critical times and it was of Solomon that James Madison wrote to his friend, Edmund Randolph, as follows:

"The kindness of our little friend in Front street near the coffee house is a fund that will preserve me from extremities, but I never resort thither without great mortification, as he obstinately rejects all recompense."

When Solomon died it was found that he had $100,000 worth of certificates of the Loan Office of the government Treasury.

Most of the Jews that have fought in the various wars which this country has had came from New York. In the Revolution there were 45 American Jews; in the War of 1812, 43; in the Mexican War, 57; in the Civil War, 7,038, and in the Spanish-American War, 2,000.

New York seems to have an ever increasing attraction for the Jew. One hundred years ago only one Jew in six settled here. In 1880 about half the Jewish immigrants became New Yorkers, whereas at the present time five out of six make city their home.

Most of the Jews in this city have come here in the last twenty years. There have been several successive waves of immigration, each bringing in a greater number. Until 1812 the Spanish and Portuguese Jews predominated, and at the end of that period there were not more than 500 of them. Then came the English and German Jews, the latter driven out by the Napoleonic and other wars and coming mostly from the small southern towns of the German States. By 1882 the German Jews vastly surpassed all others, both in numbers and wealth. Then came the repressive May Laws in Russia, exiling a great army which has New York as its abiding place. The Russian Jewish element now outnumbers all others.

New York Jews have attained distinction, not only in business and the professions, but also in society, politics, education and music. The first Jewish lawyer was Sampson Simpson, admitted to the bar in 1802. At the present time about one-third the lawyers of the city are Jews. Italian opera was introduced into New York by Lorenzo da Ponte a Jewish professor fo Italian at Columbia College, and it so happens that grand opera today is produced in the city under the management of Heinrich Conried, a Jew. "Home, Sweet Home" was the inspiration of John Howard Payne, whose mother was a Jewess. The "Beau Brummel" of New York society at one time was Henry Carroll Marks, better known by some as "Dandy" Marks, whose father was a  Jew. One of the Delancey family married a Jewess, and this city is still talking about the engagement of a prominent member of the Stokes family to a young woman of the Ghetto.

New York Jews have held many important posts in the national. State and city governments. The Minister to Turkey at one time was Oscar Straus, of this city. Among the members of the Constitutional Convention of 1894 were Edward Lauterbach, Louis Marshall, Josephy J. Green, Jacob Marks, Aaron Herzberg, and M. Warley Platzek. The nomination for mayor on the Tammany ticket was offered Nathan Straus in this same year, but Mr. Straus declined to run, a wise decision, as Tammany was beaten. New York is represented in Congress by several Jews, and among the Hebrews whom this city has sent to Washington are Jefferson M. Levy, Henry M. Goldfogle and Montague Lessler. The president of the Board of Aldermen under Mayor Van Wyck was Randolph Guggenheimer. The president of Manhattan Borough under Mayor Low was Jacob A. Cantor. Three Senate districts of the city are represented at Albany by Jews, Nathaniel E. Eisberg, Martin Saxe and Jacob Marks. Among the Jews who have been elevated to the bench are W.N. Cohen, David Leventritt, Samuel Greenbaum and Alfred Steckler. The Attorney General of the State is Julius M. Mayer.

A majority of the managers of theaters in this city are Jews, and the writers of many of the popular songs, as well as the operatic music, of the day are Jews. Among Jewish playwrights David Belaaco has won especial distinction.

In philanthropy the Jews have been liberal, not only to their own people, but to outside projects of an educational or eleemosynary nature. Benefactions to Jewish charitable institutions for 1904 amounted to $8,000,000. The expenditures of the United Hebrew Charities last year were $228,000, and the society considered the needs of 10,000 applicants, representing 43,000 individuals. Jews have erected scores of hospitals and homes for orphans, widows, their sick and their helpless kinfolk. The Mount Sinai Hospital alone cost $2,500,000.

Adolph Lewisohn and Joseph Pulitzer have given large sums to Columbia University. Annie Nathan Meyer was one of the founders of Barnard College.

Website: The History
Article Name: Jews In New York 250 Years Part III
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


 The New York Tribune April 23, 1905 Page: 2
Time & Date Stamp: