The Passover: Beginning of the Great Jewish Feast  1892

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The feast of Pasach, or the Passover, was begun at sundown last evening, with services at all the Jewish synagogues except one, the Congregation of Temple Israel worshiping in Avon hall, the dedication of the new edifice at Bedford and Lafayette avenues not occurring until Sunday next.

 The ceremonies were of a joyful and thankful nature and were continued at home, where Sadir, consisting of prayers, reading the book of Exodus, relating to the deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage, and singing of Psalms CXIII to CXVIII, inclusive was observed, the heads of families leading. An elaborate repast, in which matzoth's comprised the most important article of food, was also partaken of. This was a feature of every home, both rich and poor many of the latter having been provided with the necessary matzoth's by various charitable societies.

This morning services in the several synagogues consisted of prayers and sermons relating especially to the feast which is being observed. At Congregation Baith Israel, Boerum place and State street, the oldest synagogue in Brooklyn, Rabbi Marcus Friedlander addressed a large congregation, taking for his subject, "Patriotism." His text was Deuteronomy x: 19: "And ye shall love the stranger, for strangers were ye in the land of Egypt." He spoke as follows:

Whoever reads and understands the Bible will acknowledge that he is indebted to the Jew for his religion and morality, as all the moral precepts contained in the Koran or in the New Testament have been incorporated from Israel's Bible. Whoever reads and understands the history of literature will give the Jew a distinguished seat among the intellectual toilers in the rich mines of art, science and philosophy, as there is not a civilized nation whose literature has not been enriched by the Jewish pen and whose thoughts have not been embellished by Jewish thought. Whoever is familiar with the Jewish history will look upon the Jew as an amazing model of patience and forbearance. Whoever appealed to the Jew for charity will award to him the prize for generosity. The only virtue which is questioned, nay, which is denied the Jew, even by those who are otherwise free from prejudice, is patriotism. We will endeavor this morning to defend ourselves against such accusations.

We would prefer a defense, not of argument, not of reasoning, not of calling for evidence from the past, but a defense drawn from living facts. We would take our accusers by the hand and ramble from shore to shore, from continent to continent, from country to country, from one Jewish house to the other, and let them be eye witnesses of the ceremonies the Jews perform on Passover night at the festal supper and they will never again cast at the Jews such accusations. We will take them to the humblest dwelling of the poorest Jewish family and let them observe on that night the gracious appearance of the wife, the vigilant watchfulness of the mother, the rich decorations of the table, the great rejoicing of the children, the unusual privileges of the house servant and the princely air of the hosts. And what does all that mean? It commemorates the night in which, over three thousand years ago, the yoke of tyranny was removed and the chain of slavery was broken, and our accusers will at once exclaim that the Jew excels other nations in patriotism as he surpasses them in religion and morality. After 3,000 years of Egyptian deliverance, the Jew feels with his forefathers the bitterness of slavery and rejoices like them in the blessing of liberty. After eighteen centuries of the expulsion from his land the Jew manifests his profoundest longing after his country by concluding his festal supper with the prayer "Leshonoh habo berusholyiem." "Next year may we be in Jerusalem." Yes, there can be no more fervent patriotism manifested than the Jew exhibits on Passover night.

We do not, however, shrink from reasoning with our accusers in proof that the Jew is a true patriot. We have history on our side. History will array in our favor not individual names, but a whole nation of heroes, patriots and martyrs. We will ask Spain, Portugal, Germany and England to give us an account of Jewish patriotism, and our accusers will turn away with shame and remorse. She will not find another people like the Jewish people that dared to struggle for existence against a whole world in arms and though a thousand times defeated, though a thousand times crushed to earth and though made to languish in a thousand dungeons, still refused to surrender still struggling for national existence, for justice and for independence. But our most earnest desire is to correct the gross mistake of those who accuse the Jew of directing his only patriotism toward Palestine of being uninterested in the prosperity of the country in which he lives and of considering his country not his home, but his place of sojourn. To clear ourselves of this charge we will ask modern nations to tell of Jewish patriotism.

Let Spain tell of her Abarbanel, let Italy tell of her Signor Malvano, let France tell of her Jules Simon, let England tell of her Disraeli, let Germany tell of her Lasker and Bamberger, let the United States tell of her Peixotto, Bush, Wolff, Strauss and Hirsch: let the war department of this country tell of the 6,000 fighting Jews, among whom were generals, captains and majors, who distinguished themselves for their bravery in the great struggle for the preservation of the Union, and the charge that the Jew is not patriotic will soon be effaced. Yes the patriotic address of Jeremiah to the Jewish captives in Babylon, "Seek the peace of every city whither you are carried as captives and pray unto the Lord for it," has been deeply impressed upon and always obeyed by the Jew wherever he lived, no matter how cruelly he was treated, how shamefully he was abused and how dreadfully he was persecuted. To be patriotic and to strive to promote the intellectual and material standard of the country in which he lives is the virtue of which the Jew has ever been pre-eminently possessed. But Israel's patriotism is not bounded by the narrow confines of a single country. His love for his neighbor, his delight in the prosperity of others and his interest in the promotion of independence goes far beyond the boundary of one nation.

The mission of Israel is universal peace and universal happiness. Israel was the first to establish a republican form of government, to secure equal rights and to make its national motto "And ye shall love the stranger, for strangers were ye in the land of Egypt." Let our accusers read and understand the Old Testament and they will at once yield to Israel the claim of first having given tot he world social, religions and political equality. They will acknowledge that all achievements in the cause of freedom have their roots in Judaism: that the conception that man has inalienable human rights goes far back of the American revolution, back of the French revolution, back of the German reformation, back of Greek antiquity, back of the New Testament, back to the Bible of Moses, the dearest possession of the Jew. Every other revolution in the cause of liberty was but an echo of the sound that was first heard in Israel. Every other achievement in the cause of equality and fraternity is but a part of the great achievement of Moses. And this is the achievement which Passover celebrates, an achievement not in the cause of a single people, but in the cause of common humanity the first step toward the abode over which the flag of liberty now waves.

The songs of Moses on the Red sea are the notes of jubilee which now rise from the hearts of a free people. The burning bush beheld by Moses in the desert of the East is the bright luminary which now sheds light upon the blessed soil of the West. The Motto, "And ye shall love the stranger," which Moses wrote upon Israel's flag, is the only passport which the Jewish Russian refugee is showing when landing on American shores. Let mankind continue following the example set by Moses in accruing equal rights to all. Let all nations write on their banners in large letters the motto "And ye shall love the stranger." Let all men worship one God, from one common brotherhood, and obey one common law. The human family will then look back from the loftiest summit of civilization with a pride of triumph through the large vista of the dark past. Prejudice will then vanish, violence and tyranny will no longer be practiced, the Jew will no longer be accused of a lack of patriotism, laws restricting immigration will no longer be tolerated. "Welcome" will be the watchword of every nation, "Love" will be the motto of every man, and the whole world will celebrate with the Jew his Passover, the anniversary of the great achievement of liberty and justice, of enlightenment and truth.

At the Synagogue Beth Elohim, State street, near Hoyt, this morning services were conducted by the Rev. S. Taubenhaus, assisted by a cantor and choir. He took for his text, "Next year we shall be in Jerusalem," in the discussion of which he brought out the fact that everyone has wishes which he hopes will be realized, giving this as the prime meaning for the term.

Rabbi Geisner likewise preached to his congregation at Avon hall, Dr. Wintner at the Temple Beth Elohim, in the eastern district, while the Chevras or religious societies held services in other portions of the city.



Website: The History
Article Name: The Passover: Beginning of the Great Jewish Feast 1892
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


Brooklyn Eagle April 12, 1892
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