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The Hambub(j Temple Again. 

While the Geiger-Tiktin controversy was at its height 
another struggle between the two wings of Jewish thought 
was waged in a locality that had been a field of battle in 
this conflict once before. In the year 1841 the Hamburg 
Temple became a storm-centre a second time. In the twenty- 
three years that had elapsed since its organization this 
congregation had maintained itself as a distinct association. 
After the exciting incidents attending its formation^ the 
congregation had been left in comparative peace and had 
been less in the public gaze. In November, 1841, however, 
a keen and competent observer, Dr. Samuel Holdheim, who 
had attended the services at the Temple, published an account 
of his impressions^. He declared flatly and unreservedly 
that " the temple is undeniably the most important incident 
in the history of cultui-e in Judaism," and stated that it 
stood for the purely religious idea as opposed to the 
nationalistic and that its great service consisted in giving 
practical demonstrntion of the fact that Judaism is capable 
of progress and development. A number of events con- 
spii-ed together just about this time to direct pronounced 
attention, once again, to this pioneer reform congregation. 
It had grown greatly in membership so that it was found 
necessary to enlarge its place of worship. The two decades 
which had passed from the time it had been called into 
being had witnessed a development of thought among the 

' J.Q.R., XV, 508 ff. " Israelitische Annalen, III, 353, 36a, 


reformers, and therefore it was found expedient to revise 
the prayer-book used by the congregation and to issue it 
in a new edition. As in 1818 the prayer-book of the con- 
gregation had aroused the opposition of the rabbis of the 
old school and had caused the first decided clash between 
the rabbinical and the reform parties, so in 1841 it was 
again the prayer-book in its revised form which became 
the bone of contention. Before entering into a detailed 
account of this, however, it is necessary to indicate briefly 
the changes wrought in various localities during the years 
bounded by the two occurrences wherein this pioneer 
reform congregation occupied the centre of the stage of 
Jewish attention. In 1818 when the Hamburg congre- 
gation was formed, not one established congregation in 
Europe had been touched by the modem spirit; in 1841 
when the new edition of its prayer-book appeared, this 
modem spirit had made its influence felt in many quarters 
with more or less pronounced results. There can, in truth, 
be no doubt that the spirit of progress which was embodied 
in the Hamburg congregation was at work in many places, 
and although no other congregation had labelled itself 
" reformed," still was the influence of the new learning and 
culture thrown into the scale for reforms of some sort. The 
programme adopted by the Vienna congregation in 1826 
became the model for many other congregations ; this pro- 
gi-amme included German sermons, music by selected choir, 
decorum in the service ; the Viennese congregation owed 
its great influence to the two men who stood at its head, 
Isaac Noa Mannheimer, the illustrious preacher, and 
Solomon Sulzer, the celebrated cantor. Although not 
a reform congregation in any sense when judged by 
changes in doctrine or in the content of the prayers, yet 
its programme seemed to satisfy the religious needs of 
such as desired to see the body of tradition clothed 
in a garb acceptable to the modem age. This Vienna 
programme was adopted by congregations in Bohemia^, 

' A, Z, d, J., I, 44, III, 637 ; Isr. Ann., Ill, 14, 53. 


Hungary^, Wurtemberg^, the Palatinate^ ; also by the con- 
gregations of Amsterdam*, Copenhagen^,Munich®, Mayence'^, 
Bemburg^, Karlsruhe*, Bingen^", and other places. 

Governmental edicts touching this matter of Jewish 
customs and services also indicate the tendencies of the 
period; in 1835 Alexius Frederick Christian, the Duke of 
Anhalt, issued a set of instructions to the chief rabbi of the 
duchy, in which this official was bidden to take steps to 
"remove all abuses which had crept into the synagogue 
and all non-essentials which, on the one hand, obscure 
the true Mosaic religion and morality, and, on the other, 
lead to contentions in the house of worship and in the 
congregation^^." The thirty-second article of the decree 
of 1837, regulating the affairs of the Jews of the kingdom 
of Hanover, ordered that " a sermon in German be delivered 
on every Sabbath and holiday by the rabbi or such other 
functionary as may be at the head of synagogal affairs ^^." 
In Baden a decree of 1838 demanded the introduction of 
chorals into the service, of the synagogues ^^ ; this had been 
commanded as early as 1824^* but had not been respected ; 
the reiterated decree was obeyed. The shifting attitude 
of the Bavarian government in this matter of Jewish 
reforms is interesting ; in 1834 some Jews of Baireuth 
lodged complaint with the government against the rabbis 
who had eliminated from the liturgy certain prayers, which 
according to their opinion expressed no longer the true 
aspirations of the modern worshipper. The government 
sided with the rabbis, but decreed at the same time that 
such individuals as desired to pray these prayers, at 
home privately could do so ^^ ; in 1 835, in the month of 

* Ibid., I, 190 ; Loew, Qesammelte Schri/ten, II, 291. 

« Isr. Ann., I, 213. » Ibid. 228. ♦ A. Z. d. J., Ill, 394. 

' Isr. Ann., I, 95. * Ibid., 51. ' Ibid., 14. 

' Wiss. ZeitschriftfUr jiXd. Theologie, I, 475. 

' Isr. Ann., I, 413, II. 127 ; Loew, Ges. Schr., II, 295. 

"• Isr. Ann., T, 142. i' Wiss. Zeit. fur jUd. Theol., I, 465. 

" A. Z. d. J., I, 63. " Ibid., Ill, 26. " Isj-. Ann. II, 38. 

" Wiss. Zeit.fiirjud. Thed., I, 125. 


November, the government issued a decree calling for 
assemblies of Jewish representatives in all the districts 
of the country to discuss and to determine upon all 
points of belief and practice concerning which there 
were decided differences of opinion among Jews. In accor- 
dance with this decree a number of these district synods 
were held, one of which declared that the belief in the 
coming of the Messiah is to be taken in the spiritual not 
the political sense, that the Jews do not expect a return 
to Palestine nor the re-establishment of the Jewish state ; 
the synod, therefore, resolved to remove from the prayer- 
book all passages petitioning for the coming of the Messiah 
and the return to Palestine^; this decree of 183,5 seemed 
to be animated by the liberal spirit, as was also the 
governmental edict of i{^38 issued to the congregations 
of Middle Franconia^ ; however an edict of October 23, 
1838 (repeated December 31, 1839), indicates that the 
orthodox party had gained the ear of the government, for 
this edict declares that the king desires the appointment 
of rabbis who are thoroughly cultured but who are at the 
same time strict adherents " of all genuine Mosaic doctrines 
and ceremonies, and who discountenance all destructive 
neology ''." This same reactionary attitude on the part of 
the government appears in a decree of July 32, 1840, which 
forbade the continued observance of the ceremony of 
confirmation which had been introduced by Dr. Lowi, the 
rabbi of Fuerth *. 

A decree promulgated in the Duchy of Saxe-Meiningen, 
in December, 1839, comprising instructions to the district 
rabbis is interesting ; it commands these rabbis to conduct 
the services in accordance with the essentials of the Mosaic 
religion and the needs of the time, to remove from the 
public services and the religious instruction everything 
which is unessential and objectionable. The fifth para- 

' Theologische Outachien iXber das Qebetbuch nach dem Gebrauche des neuen 
israelitischen Tempelvereins eu Hamburg (Hamburg, 184a), 71. 
» A. Z. d. J., Ill, 34. 2 Ibid., IV, 64. ' Isr. Ann., II, 084, 290. 


graph ordei-s that a German sermon be delivered every two 
weeks, and the eighth paragraph instructs the rabbi to 
promote the improvement of the services in all the congre- 
gations of his district, to remove abuses, to have more and 
more of the prayers read in German, to establish choirs, to 
have the prayers and the Pentateuchal readings pronounced 
in a dignified manner in place of the traditional sing-song, 
and to abolish the selling of the mitzivoth. The decree 
also commanded the conducting of the confirmation 
ceremony yearly^. On the other hand Prussia had re- 
enforced the decree of 1823, forbidding any changes or 
innovations in the Jewish service, by two subsequent 
decrees of May 25, 1829, and October 25, 1836. 

Thus the currents moved to and fro. The Jewish com- 
munities were being constantly stirred by the agitations. 
A striking instance of how wide spread the movements 
against the old , order were is offered by a remarkable 
address issued by fifty-four Jews of Wilna in September, 
1840, to their co-religionists in ^Russian Poland ; this 
document urged improvements in the religious condition 
of the Jews and declared that the evils were superinduced 
by three causes ; first, the incompetency of the rabbis and 
teachers who were for the most part ignorant, " understood 
no intelligible language, possessed no scientific training, 
■were absolutely inexperienced in worldly matters , . . 
made no efforts to improve manners and morals, to spread 
trae enlightenment, to incline their people to participate 
in the general welfare of the community or to impress 
upon them the necessity for the pursuit of industrial and 
agricultural pursuits " ; secondly, the neglect of the instruc- 
tion of the young, and thirdly, the superstitions and the 
divisions caused by the Sabbatian and Chassidaic move- 
ments. These evils, they declared, could be remedied only 
by the foundation of a rabbinical seminary where rabbis 
would receive a scientific Jewish education combined with 
secular learning ; in the meantime " let German rabbis 

1 A. Z. d. J., IV, 21 ; Isr. Ann., II, ir. 
TOL. XVI. K k 


who are versed in the Talmud and in branches of secular 
knowledge be elected as district rabbis and teach the 
religion in its purity . . . . ; let these rabbis form a con- 
sistory with its seat in the place where the seminary is 
located, this consistory to conduct all religious and con- 
gregational affairs, regulate the public worship S" &c. 
Although religious reform as such is not mentioned in 
this address yet it testifies to the longing for changes 
and improvements even in such communities as have 
been supposed by many not to have been affected in 
any way by the modem spirit. 

I desire also to call attention to two remarkable in- 
dividual expressions as a further indication of the character 
of the pei'iod under consideration. In a lettre pastorale, 
addressed in 1835 to the rabbis and the faithful in his 
district, Arnaud Aron, the newly elected grand rabbin 
of the Strasburg consistory, used the following language 
after speaking of such as contemn and disregard their 
ancestral faith ; " Avoid the course of those other Israelites 
whose blind faith poisons the present generation with 
another serious evil no less disastrous in its results. 
Refusing for themselves all higher culture, at whose door 
they lay all blame for the ills of unbelief, they remain 
sunk in the lethargy of moral disintegration. Deaf to the 
cry of the progressive enlightenment of humanity they 
never cease to bow their head beneath the yoke of abase- 
ment, clinging obstinately, at the same time, to the prejudices 
which, in their eyes, are the only stay of the religion of 
their fathers ^ " ; and the author of the famous Tsarphati 
letters wrote in 1836: "let us observe the Sabbath, the 
feast of the creation, but let us change the day ; let us keep 
the divine covenant, let us change the manner ; let us 
emancipate woman, she is part of human kind. Let us 
preserve our collections of prayers, the magnificent songs 
of the Psalmist, but let us change the idiom ; let us intro- 

' A. Z. d. J., V, so. ' Wiss. Zeit/iirjUd. ITieol., I, 371. 


duce successively Protestant preaching, the Catholic organ, 
the harmonies of the Meyerbeers, the Halevis ^." 

After this somewhat hurried survey of the changes 
effected in Jewish religious practice and thought during 
the interim of twenty-three years between the publication 
of the first and second edition of the Hamburg prayer-book, 
I return to the interrupted narrative. The passing of the 
years had made it evident that the first edition of the 
book could not be considered final ; when this first edition 
was wellnigh exhausted, the directory of the Temple 
appointed a commission, in April, 1839, consisting of the 
two rabbis, Drs. Gotthold Salomon and Eduard Kley, and 
three members of the congregation, Dr. M. Frankel, 
M. J. Bresselau and M. Wolfson, to revise the prayer-book 
in view of the new edition which was to be issued, it being 
provided that "the principle of revision shall conform to 
that spirit of contemporary progress which has ruled in 
our house of worship up to this time." The resignation 
of Dr. Kley as rabbi of the temple caused his withdrawal 
from the commission and the appointment of his successor, 
Dr. Naphtali Frankfurter, in his stead and the vacancy 
caused by the death of M. J. Bresselau, the secretary of 
the congregation, was filled by his successor, M. M. Haar- 
bleicher. The commission was instructed to revise the 
prayer-book but not to prepare an entirely new ritual. 
The commission was guided by the following four 
principles : — 

1. The prayer-book, which aims to be the expression of 
a religious community that rests on a positive historical 
foundation, must not only uplift and edify the spirit of 
the worshipper, as does every prayer-book, but it must 

• Conservons le Sabbat, fete de la creation, changeons le jour ; con- 
servons I'alliance celeste, changeons le mode ; ^mancipons la femme, elle 
fait part du genre humain. Conservons nos assemblees de pri^rcs, les 
magniflques oantiques du Psalmiste, changeons I'idiome ; introduisons 
successivement la predication Protestante, I'orgue catholique, les accords 
des Meyerbeer, des Hal6vi. — Ibid., IV, 259. 

K k a 


indicate that positive foundation in its peculiarity as it 
appears in doctrine and history. 

2. Spirit and heart must be addressed in a manner 
as compatible as possible with the modem status of 
European culture and views of life. 

3. The existing and traditionally received material is to 
be retained preferentially, as long as it does not controvert 
the requirements indicated above. 

4 The entire content of the prayer-book, as well as of 
the whole service, must be permeated with the pure teaching 
of our ancestral religion ; whatsoever opposes this must 
be removed ^. 

The commission was guided too much by the spirit of 
compromise ; as was the case with the first edition of the 
prayer-book so also in the revision, there were no fixed 
guiding principles; in defence of their course the com- 
mission claimed that " had they been truly and fully 
consistent they would have had a book true to principle, 
but they would have had no congregation ; even in the 
most favourable case their congregation would have become 
entirely isolated from the rest of the Jewish community " ; 
therefore they took the middle course and avoided extremes. 

Still despite this, their expectation was not fulfilled. 
The book appeared about the same time that the Temple, 
owing to the gi-owth of the membership, was ' enlarged. 
For twenty years the congregation had grown and 
prospered and comparative peace had reigned between 
it and the orthodox community. These two events, how- 
ever, the new addition to the Temple and the new edition 
of the prayer-book, stirred the latent opposition into flame, 
and were the signals for the new agitation which caused 
this congregation to occupy the central place in the re- 
ligious life of German Jewry a second time and stamped 
it as the particular representative of the reform cause. 
The ecclesiastical chief of the orthodox community, the 

* Theologische Ouiachten iiber das Qebefbuch nach dem Qebrauche des neuen 
israelitischm Tempelcereins in Hamburg, Introd. lo, ii. 


so-called Chakham, Isaac Bernays, issued a public notiee 
(.^y^1D) warning all Israelites not to use this book and 
declaring that any one who did so did not perform his 
duty as a Jew. This document appeared on October 16, 
1 841, two months after the publication of the prayer-book. 
It was promulgated far and wide and the Temple authorities 
found it necessary to answer it ; on October ai they 
published the following declaration, which was signed by 
J. WarendorflL", temporary president, Dr. G. Eiesser, Dr. M. 
Frankel and E. J. Jonas : " Since Mr. Isaac Bernays has 
deemed it proper to declare in the local synagogues that 
our prayer-book violates the fundamental principles of the 
Jewish religion, the directorate of the new temple associa- 
tion, after due consultation with its preachers, considers 
it incumbent upon itself to declare, both to the members 
of our association and to all who attend our services : 

1. Mr. Isaac Bernays has no authority, as far as our 
organization is concerned, to condemn us publicly as 
he has; hence this condemnation is to be spumed as 

2. A malicious, intentional disregard of the contents of 
the prayer-book is apparent in the judgment given ; the 
accusations moreover evince the densest ignorance of all 
theologico-liturgical knowledge. 

3. Therefore such a proceeding can aflFect in nowise the 
members of the Temple Society who recognize in it only 
the expression of powerless partisanship ; they regret it, 
because the seed of discord has been sown in the congre- 
gation in so wanton a manner and because the cloak of 
religion has been used to cover such a course. 

Still this statement did not end the controversy ; indeed 
it proved only the beginning. True, by an order of the 
Senate of Hamburg, of January la, 1842, the njnw was 
removed from the synagogues ; the Temple authorities had 
removed their counter-declaration some time before. In 
place of the njmo the Chacham substituted a Caution 
(mntN) : " it is forbidden to pray the obligatory prayers 


and benedictions from the book which appeared here 
during the past year entitled 'Prayers for Israelites.'" 
The public notice and the caution of Chakham Bemays 
attracted such widespread attention that the directorate 
of the Temple considered it necessary to obtain the opinions 
of recognized Jewish theological authorities on the question 
as to whether the prayer-book justified the condemnation 
of the Chakham as being a non-Jewish prayer-book, implied 
in his statement that any one using it did not perform his 
duty as an Israelite ; they obtained responses from twelve 
well-known rabbis : J. Aub of Baireuth, J. L. Auerbach of 
Leipzig, A. Chorin of Arad, J. A. Friedlander of Brilon, 
Abraham Geiger of Breslau, M. Gutmann of Redwitz, 
S. Holdheim of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, A. Kohn of 
Hohenems, J, Maier of Stuttgart, I. N. Mannheimer of 
Vienna, L. Philippson of Magdeburg, and L. Stern of 
Burgkunstadt. The two rabbis of the temple, Di-s. G. 
Salomon^ and N. Frankfurter^, had expressed their views 
in separate publications shortly before. In the preface 
to the volume containing these responses, the directorate, 
through their spokesman Dr. M. Frankel, state that " twelve 
theological opinions are more than sufficient to outweigh 
two ungrounded declarations and to prove their instability. 
Time has passed judgment on the rabbis of 1819. Had 
we desired we could have increased the number, if we had 
wished to address all Jewish theologians who combine 
piety with a free scientific spirit. The directorate of the 
temple wished to exclude no worthy rabbi ; they addressed 
a certain number of theologians known to them with the 
hope that others would voluntarily join the number." 

The twelve opinions were preceded by an introduction 
in two parts written by Dr. Frankel ; the first part giving 
the history of the controversy and the second being a dis- 
quisition on the Temple Society, its reason for existence, 

* Das neue Gebefbuch unct seine Verketserung ; sine ira eteum studio (Hambui*g, 
' SaUstand und Fortschriti (Hamburg, 1841). 


its place in the religious life of the day and its relation 
to Judaism at large ^. 

One of the chief charges advanced against the prayer- 
book was that it denied leading Jewish doctrines, notably 
the doctrines of the Messiah, the bodily resurrection and 
the eventual redemption of Israel by the restoration to the 
land of Palestine. Dr. Salomon, the rabbi of the temple, 
at once published an essay, " The New Prayer-book 
and its Persecution," wherein he defended the orthodoxy 
of the book and cited accredited authorities with whose 
opinions the book was in perfect accord. Oa one point, 
however, he was forced to acknowledge the correctness 
of the charges, and that was in reference to the 
Messianic belief. The traditional belief was in the 
coming of the personal Messiah ; the view expressed in 
the prayer-book was the hope for the coming of the 
Messianic time without any local reference and without 
the reinstitution of the sacrificial cult ; this change of 
view necessitated certain alterations in the traditional 
form of the prayers ; these alterations consisted for the 
most part in the elimination of those expressions which 
indicated these beliefs and hopes. However, even here 
vacillation was apparent ; some prayers were retained 
which should have been struck out had the compilers of 
the book been truly consistent. Thus, on the one hand, they 
omitted such supplications as the following in the Mussaf 
of the holidays : " Gather tog-ether our dispersed from the 
four corners of the earth and assemble our exiled from 
the uttermost parts thereof and restore us with exultation 
to thy city Zion and to Jerusalem thy holy house, with 
everlasting joy," &c. ; also this, "Build thy house as 
aforetimes and establish thy temple firmly and let us see 
its erection and gladden us with its restoration and bring 

* Dr. G. Salomon, the preacher of the congregation, also issued a history 
of the same several years later under the title Kurzgefasste Geschichte des 
neuen israelitischen Tempeh in Hamburg wahrend der ei'sten 25 Jahre seines 
Bestehens (Hamburg, 1844). 


back the priests to their ministrations, the Levites to their 
songs, the Israelites to their homes ; thither will we pilgrim 
and appear before thee and prostrate ourselves on the 
three high feasts." The omission of such supplications 
seemed to indicate clearly the position of the congregation 
on this question of the return to Palestine, the reinstitution 
of the sacrifices, the rebuilding of the Temple, and the 
restoration of the Jewish state. They seemed to declare 
that they had repudiated Israel's nationalistic hopes and 
had given a purely spiritual intei-pretation to the Messianic 
idea, taking it in its universal meaning as the Messianic 
era of peace and justice. On the other hand, however, 
a number of the nationalistic prayers which supplicated 
for the coming of a personal Messiah and the rebuilding 
of the Temple of Jerusalem were retained ; for example, 
"let our eyes see thy return to Zion in mercy," and the 
prayer "that God take pity on his sanctuary, rebuild it 
in his love and increase its glory." Here was a manifest 
inconsistency ; it looked like an attempt at compromise ; 
on the one hand, the desire of the Jews to be considered 
citizens of the land in which they dwelt necessitated the 
repudiation of the belief in Palestine as their fatherland ; 
on the other, the anxiety to remain in good repute as part 
and parcel of the whole community of Israel caused them 
to retain certain prayers which petitioned for the return of 
God to Zion. The compilers of the book felt this to be 
inconsistent, and Dr. Salomon in his defence of the book 
attempted to explain it away by declaring that the Temple 
congregation did believe in the restoration, but "it does not 
believe that the restoration is conditioned by the bodily 
personal presence of each and every Israelite in the land 
of Palestine. We can desire with all our hearts the re- 
establishment of an unfortunate fatherland, can even make 
supplication to God for this, and become enthusiastic for 
the idea; and together with this we can remain in the 
land wherein Divine Providence has placed us, continue 
to live there and obey, serve, and do allegiance to its 


ruling powers." He instances the fact that many Jews 
remained in Babylon at the time of the return from the 
Babylonian exile. This explanation does not explain; it 
has all the appearance of begging the question. But one 
of two positions is possible in this matter, either the belief 
that the Jews everywhere are in a state of exile and will 
remain in this state until God in his own time will put 
an end to the exile and restore them to Palestine under 
the leadership of a personal Messiah, or the belief that the 
dispersion of the Jews over the world is providential, that 
nationally they are not distinct and have no national hopes 
other than those of their fellow citizens of other faiths, 
that the future of Judaism is to find its consummation 
not in the re-establishment of the Jewish state but in the 
fulfilment of the prophetic visions of universal peace and 
the universal acceptance of the unity of God. The one 
conception considers the repossession of Palestine the 
crowning of Israel's career, the other claims that Israel's 
early life in Palestine was the preparation for its larger 
work in all parts of the world during the dispersion. It is 
impossible to reconcile the two positions. They represent 
the parting of the ways in the interpretation of this vital 
doctrine, viz. the Messianic beUef. 

In his statement concerning the preparation of the prayer- 
book Dr. Frankel, one of the compilers, pleaded guilty to 
the charge of inconsistency, but excused the commission 
on the ground that thorough-going consistency would have 
involved complete severance from the Jewish community 
at large ; this they desired to avoid and therefore they 
sailed the middle course ; the result proved disappointing ; 
the orthodox chiefs condemned the book for its changes 
and emendations and declared it heretical, while, on the 
other hand, the congregation lost the opportunity of 
standing as a true leader, championing those new ideas 
for a bold and uncompromising declaration of which 
thousands were waiting. Instead of trying to justify 
their position as reformers the Temple authorities were 


anxious to prove the acceptability of the prayer-book 
even from the traditional standpoint. There was a very 
general desire at this time to base the justification for 
reforms on the authority of the Talmud and the mediaeval 
rabbinical authorities. Passages were cited from these 
authorities in support of the reform position. Although 
done in perfectly good faith and sincerity, this was not 
quite honest, for neither the Talmudical nor the mediaeval 
authorities, when they gave utterance to the expressions 
quoted as justifying reforms contemplated or undertaken, 
had any such state of aflfairs in mind as existed in Jewry at 
this time. The conditions in Judaism were different 
from what they had ever been ; a veritable revolution 
had taken place, changing not only the external lot of 
the Jews in Germany and other western European lands 
but also the view-points in regard to all things ; even the 
modern culture and education of the Jews were opposed 
from the traditional rabbinical standpoint ; either the 
Hebrew education only or nothing was the shibboleth of 
the rabbis of the old school. 

There being then this revolution affecting all provinces 
oi Jewish life and thought a readjustment and reinterpre- 
tation were necessary ; there were many who held this 
theoretically ; in practice, however, the great constructive 
geniuses failed to appear, and the vital moment, the mother 
of the ages, was permitted to pass without being properly 
grasped. Therefore the reform movement in Germany 
failed to fulfil its px'omise, and Judaism, through the policy 
of compromise, halted between past and present ; and while 
the Jew himself became thoroughly occidentalized, the 
synagogue, outside of the United States ■', remained oriental ; 
the cleft between the life of the Jew in the world and in 
the synagogue continued ; it was this cleft which the 
reform movement set out to remove, and in as far as it did 
not succeed in this it fell short of the realization of its 

^ See the author's "Progress of the Jewish Reform Movement in the 
United States," J. Q, S., X, 52-99. 


programme. The Hamburg congregation indicated the 
possibilities of a strong concerted movement, but it did not 
become what it might have been, the leader of such a 
mighty forward work. It obtained the opinions declaring 
the validity of its prayer-book even from the traditional 
Jewish standpoint, rested on its oars, and continued a 
single, isolated, individual congregation. 

All the opinions published in the collection " Theological 
Opinions on the Prayer-book of the New Israelitish Temple 
Society in Hamburg" [Theologische Outachten ilber das 
Gebetbuch nach dem Gebrauche dm neuen israelitischen 
Tempelver&ins in Hamburg, Hamburg, 184a) condemned 
Bernays' attitude toward the prayer-book without reserva- 
tion. They all declared in different ways that the prayer- 
book conformed completely with the spirit of Judaism, 
and that any one who prayed from it performed his full 
duty as an Israelite. It is not necessary to quote these 
opinions at length or even in an abbreviated form, although 
they present an interesting array of facts and opinions on 
the very important question of the liturgy. It will be 
sufficient to reproduce here two of these opinions repre- 
sentative of the radical and conservative wings of Jewish 
thought, viz. the opinions of Samuel Holdheim the radical 
and Isaac Noa Mannheimer the conservative. 

Immediately upon the appearance of the prayer-book 
Holdheim had published a review of it in pamphlet form 
with the title "The Prayer-book of the New Israelitish 
Temple in Hamburg" (Ueber das Gebetbuch nach dem 
Gebrauche des neuen israelitischen Tempels zu Hamburg, 
Hamburg, 1841). In this he declared that the prayer- 
book was entirely satisfactory and could be used in any 
Jewish congregation because it disparaged no historical 
truth, no essential doctrine of Judaism, no tradition of the 
synagogue, no universally acknowledged rabbinical nor 
any positive Biblical law. It steered the middle course 
and satisfied the progressive as well as the conservative 
party. Somewhat later he felt called upon to write a 


second pamphlet in defence of the Temple and its prayer- 
book, entitled, " Heresy Hunting and Liberty of Conscience. 
A second vote" (Verketzerung und Gewissensfreiheit: ein 
zweites Votum, Schwerin, 1842), in answer to a violent 
anonymous attack " Jew and non-Jew. An answer to the 
Writings of the Triple AUiance " {Jude und Nicht-Jude : 
eitie Erwiderung auf die Schriften der Tripd-Allianz, 
Amsterdam, 184a). The triple alliance referred to was 
Holdheim and the two preachers of the Temple, Salomon 
and Frankfurter, all three of whom had issued publications 
in defence of the prayer-book ^ 

In his opinion, published in the collection^, Holdheim 
averred that the book contained no changes from the 
traditional ritual that ai-e subversive of the spirit of 
Judaism; the changes are only such as are necessitated 
by the development of the universal conception of Judaism 
out of the national ; this change was given point to even 
in ancient time by the establishment of the synagogues 
as houses of prayer to take the place of the Temple at 
Jerusalem, the national religious centre. As for the 
spiritual interpretation which the authors of the prayer- 
book give to the Messianic belief, as contrasted with the 
personal and as affecting all mankind and not Israel 
alone, they deserve our thanks. They have accentuated 
the prophetic interpretation of the doctrine ; they have 
succeeded in combining the traditional Jewish spirit with 
the universal teaching which is the finest flower of pro- 
phetic Judaism, and they have done well in eliminating 
from the prayer-book all those elements which are in- 
compatible with the pristine teachings of the synagogue 
and with the spirit of modern culture. 

Mannheimer^, the celebrated Viennese preacher, a man 
of a decidedly conservative tendency, declared that the per- 

' Supra, p. 494. 

' Thsol. Gutachtm Hher das Gehetbuch nach dem Gebraueh des neuen israd. 
Tempelver. in Hatnb., 73 ff. 
* Ibid., 94 ff. 


mission to use the vernacular in place of the Hebrew as 
the language of prayer was indisputable even from the 
Talmudico-rabbinical standpoint. The excision, changing 
or recasting of the piutim, and sdichoth, is the prerogative 
of every congregation. It can be proven easily that the 
inclusion of the piutim in the ritual was disputed with 
much greater justice than is their exclusion to-day. 

A number of prayers were simply the individual ex- 
pressions of their authors and were never intended to 
have lasting validity and authority. Such are the late 
Dim Nini, the pentateuchal prayer for Mondays and 
Thursdays, the so-called [llfl %T' , the long drawn out con- 
fession of sins (Ntsn by) in the ritual of the Day of Atone- 
ment ; such and others like them can be either abbreviated 
or abolished without sinning against the rules of the ritual. 

He goes on to say: " Although I usually plead for historical 
continuity and tradition yet I cannot but agree with the 
stand taken by the authors of the book in the matter of 
the omission of the prayers for the reinstitution of the 
sacrifices; they have merely expressed what all modem 
enlightened theologians think, even such as cling with all 
their hearts to the inherited traditions and forms ; I am 
one of those who do not rationalize the Messianic belief; 
I believe in and defend the national interpretation of this 
dogma and hope for a national restoration, yet I am free 
to confess openly that the reinstitution of the bloody 
sacrificial ritual does not form part and parcel of these 
hopes and promises ; see the many expressions of the 
prophets, the sages, and notably Maimonides, who declares 
that the sacrifices were intended only for the child-peiiod 
of Israel's development. . . . 

" If Bernays had contented himself with warning his own 
followers and all such as cling to the traditional ritual 
against the use of this prayer-book no one could have 
objected. But decided protest must be entered against 
the animus wherewith he attacks an honourable congre- 
gation that has pursued the highest ideals for the past 


twenty-two years ; such bigotry and one-sidedness cannot 
be condemned too strongly ; the less that the rabbis of the 
school of Bernays have taken to heart the need of re- 
modelling the service, and the more they have viewed with 
indifference the estrangement of thousands from the house 
of God, the less right have they to pretend to be zealous 
in the cause of God as over against such as have taken 
active steps to stem the tide of indifference and reclaim 
those who have drifted away." 

One other opinion must be mentioned although it did 
not appear in the collection published by the Temple 
authorities. I refer to that^ of Zachaiias Frankel, chief 
rabbi of Dresden. Frankel, one of the foremost Jewish 
scholars and rabbis of the time, became known as the 
leading exponent of what he termed "positive historical 
Judaism " ; he claimed to occupy the middle position 
between the reformers and the party of strict tradition. 
He condemned the action of Bernays, as he would any 
presumptuous attempt on the part of constituted authority 
to interfere with the spirit of progress. To his mind the 
prayer-book was open to criticism because the compilers 
had not been guided by any strict principle of procedure ; 
they had exercised an unauthorized eclecticism in the 
omission and retention of prayers. He breaks a lance 
with the " templeites " on the Messianic question ; here 
he is altogether at variance with them ; he claims that 
the hope of the return to Palestine still had power to 
arouse the enthusiasm of the Jew and that a future inde- 
pendent existence was the true consummation of Israel's 
Messianic hopes. Still, in spite of his objections to the 
book, Frankel was frank to acknowledge that the intention 
and aim of the Hamburg congregation were honest, but he 
feared that its mode of procedure was schismatic. 

Salomon answered this criticism in a caustic and ironical 
rejoinder^, in which he repeated his views on the Messianic 

' Orient, 184a, Nos. 7, 8, g. 

* Sendsckreihen an Herrn Dr. Zachariaa FranJcd in Betreff seines im " Orient" 


idea. Frankel replied, and set forth his thoughts on the 
question a second time at great length^. This then was 
really the pivot on which the reform movement was to 
revolve ; if Judaism was a universal religion as the re- 
formers claimed, then all things connected with the religion, 
as ceremonies, doctrines, and laws, must be interpreted in 
this light; the dead hand of the past must be removed 
and the present be given due and proper consideration as 
a vital factor in the development of the faith ; if, however, 
Judaism was a national religion, then had the prophets 
dreamed vain things and uttered foolish babblings ; the 
issue was becoming well defined ; " either a common 
country or a common idea " ; either Judaism had the 
power and potency of a world religion and could satisfy 
the spiritual aspirations of mankind, or it was fitted to 
be only the religious experience of a single race ; the out- 
look of the reformers was the world, that of their opponents 
a comer of western Asia. 

The practical result of all this agitation, as far as the 
Hamburg Temple congregation was concerned, was that 
it became more assured in its position as an independent 
congregation, and was permitted to pursue its course 
peaceably and quietly ; on December 7, 1845, a commission 
was appointed by the congregation, consisting of the two 
rabbis, one member of the directorate, and four members of 
the congregation, to which were to be referred all matters 
pertaining to the public service and such private domestic 
functions as were of a religious nature ; this commission 
was to bear in mind always the purpose of the. temple 
organization, viz. "the combining of the spirit of the 
religious consciousness of the age with the historical spirit 
of Judaism." 

miigetheilten Gutacktens ilber das neue Gebetbudi der Tempelgemeinde in Hamburg. 
Hamburg, 1842. 

* Ermderung auf das von Herrn Dr. Salomon, Prediger am neuen israelitischen 
Tempel zu Hamburg, an mich gerichiete Sendschreiben, Literaturblatt des Orients, 
1842, Kos. 23 and 24. 


The Reform Movement in England. 

Our story of the movement for religious reform in 
Judaism has been confined thus far almost exclusively 
to Germany, but the movement spread beyond the borders 
of that country, and towards the close of the fourth and in 
the beginning of the fifth decade of the nineteenth century 
a stirring episode in the conflict between the old and new 
tendencies in Judaism was enacted in the British metro- 
polis. Before giving a detailed account of this it will be 
necessary to indicate briefly the religious conditions in 
London at the time when the first official efibrt towards 
reform was made, viz. in the year 1836. As throughout 
Europe, the buJk of the Jews in London had, up to the 
nineteenth century, acquired but little if any education 
in secular branches of knowledge. They were cut off 
almost absolutely from all contact with the outer world, 
except in business relations involved in transactions on 
the Stock Exchange. The education of the great majority 
of the children was received in schools that were scarcely 
worthy the name. The Spanish and Poi-tuguese congre- 
gation conducted a day school called " Shaare Ticvah " 
(Gates of Hope), in which, according to the statement of 
a prominent member of the congregation, the boys " were 
taught little Hebrew and less English. For aught they 
knew Julius Caesar was a Lord Mayor of London some 
fifty years ago, the equator may be the name of a strange 
animal, and Alps and Pyrenees are, perhaps, two kinds of 
foreign fruit. And in this state of mind they leave the 
school where they are supposed to have been instructed 
for years, and enter the world, throwing upon the estab- 
lishment and upon the authorities who look after them 
the greatest disgrace^." The Talmud Torah, the day school 
conducted by the German Polish congregation, was no 
better, being presided over by a melamvied, himself 

' Quoted in Jewish Chronicle, Jane i8, 1897, p. 17. 


frequently ignorant and uncouth, who confined his teaching 
to Hebrew and the translation of the Bible into Yiddish. 
English was never beard in the schoolroom. Matters 
improved considerably with the organization of the Jews' 
Free School as a primary school in which secular branches 
also were taught. This was the beginning of the educa- 
tional emancipation of the Jews of London from the regime 
of the cheder and the melammed, and all that these two 
institutions implied. 

Religiously speaking, the Jews of London were divided 
into two communities, the Sephardi or Spanish-Portuguese 
and the Ashkenazi or German-Polish ; the afiairs of the 
Sephardi community, with its historic synagogue in Bevis 
Marks, were regulated by the Mahaniad, or governing 
board, consisting of four wardens and the treasurei*. The 
rule of the Mohamad was wellnigh despotic ; it was 
almost an oligarchy. The mode of election of a member 
of the Mahamad was peculiar ; the bulk of the members 
of the congregation, technically known as Yehidim, took 
no part in the election ; whenever a vacancy occurred in this 
governing board, the remaining members of the Mahamad, 
together with eight ex-members, met for the purpose 
of filling the vacancy. Five of their number cast lots as 
to who should nominate a member of the congregation to 
serve as warden. If the meeting approved this nomination, 
it was equivalent to an election. Any one thus elected 
was compelled willy-nilly to serve or else pay a heavy fine, 
amounting to forty pounds. 

Regulations similar in spirit, though not exactly like in 
form, prevailed in the German-Polish community, the head 
of which was a chief rabbi and a governing board, which 
was composed of the wardens and honorary ofiicers. 

The Ascamxfth, or rules of the Spanish-Portuguese con- 
gregation, prescribed the course of life of the members not 
only within the synagogue but also without-'. For example, 

1 Gaster, History of the Ancient Synagogue qf Spanish and Portuguese Jews, 15, 
London, 1901. 

VOL. XVI. L 1 


no member of the congregation was permitted to bring any 
suit against another member in any court of law, civil or 
criminal, without first giving notice of it to the Mahamad; 
failure to comply with this regulation involved the pay- 
ment of a fine of five pounds. The only exception to this 
was a suit in which " delay might prove prejudicial," or one 
arising from failure to meet a Bill of Exchange. Further, 
the members were forbidden to publish any book treating 
of religion ot* politics in any language without the per- 
mission of the Mahamad ; they were also forbidden to 
join any party "which any of the people may form 
against the government or ministry or judicial administra- 
tion of the kingdom^." 

These rules, as a matter of course, date back to the time 
when the Jews were a tolerated alien community, and 
great care had to be exercised lest any suspicion of any 
kind attach to any one of their number as being opposed 
to the powers that were, or sympathizing with any senti- 
ment or movement against them. The rules of the German 
synagogue did not attempt to interfere with the political 
opinions or activity of the members, but disputes between 
members of the synagogue were brought frequently before 
the governing board and settled without recourse to the 
courts of the land. 

Such rules and regulations were possible of enactment 
and enforcement because the Jews were to all intents and 
purposes a separate community — or really two separate 
communities — and could continue in force only so long as 
this remained the case ; this jurisdiction of the synagogue 
over the public activities of its members had to cease with 
the letting down of the barriers that excluded the Jews 
from participation in the civil and political activities of 
the country. At the time whereof I am writing the agita- 
tion for the civil emancipation of the Jews had been renewed. 
^^ 1753 8" bill for the emancipation of the Jews had passed 
both Houses of Parliament, but had been repealed at the 

^ Jewish Chronicle, June ti, 1897, p. la. 


instance of the populace ; since then the bill had been 
introduced into the Lower House several times, but in 183 1 
most determined steps were taken by Robert Grant, Lord 
Macaulay, and other famous members of Parliament ; the 
bill had passed in the Commons but was defeated in the 
House of Lords ; the friends of the measure never ceased 
agitating for it from that time onward until it was finally 
passed in the House of Lords in 1858, and thus became 
a law of the land. 

All these movements for educational and civil emanci- 
pation worked together just as was the case in Germany, 
and there can be no doubt but that the spirit of freedom 
which called these activities into play made itself felt also 
in the religious life, and gave a great impetus to the senti- 
ment of dissatisfaction with the conditions in the synagogue 
which had received occasional expression even before the 
organization of the reform congregation. 

Furthermore, the influence of the movement for reform 
in Germany must be taken into account. That this in- 
fluence was of moment in the agitation for religious 
reform in England may be gathered from the first official 
mention we have of the movement in that country among 
the members of the Spanish and Portuguese congregation. 
A petition was presented to the Mahamad on December 4, 
1836, by a number of the members, asking for the intro- 
duction into the service of " such alterations and modifica- 
tions as were in the line of the changes introduced in the 
reform synagogue in Hamburg and other places ^." Some 
time before this, however, in the year 181 2, a member of 
this congregation, J. King by name, had addressed the 
wardens, calling attention to the indecorum during the 
services and claiming that as matters stood the synagogue 
" was not a place of devotion and prayers could be better 
said in the closet." He called upon the officers to introduce 
reforms, but his suggestions received scant consideration, as 

' Gaster, History qf the Ancient Synagogue of Spanish ancl Portuguese Jews, 
p. 169. 



did also subsequent communications which he addressed 
to them on the same subject^. Sixteen years later, on 
December 4, 1828, a committee for the Promotion of 
Religious Worship was appointed to inquire into and 
recommend the best means of raising the tone of the 
public service and infusing therein greater decorum and 
devotion ; the committee suggested a number of measures 
to this end ; they recommended that the Mahamad take steps 
to shorten the service as far as practicable, but the most 
interesting portion of their report is that in which they 
declared that moral and religious discourses were essential, 
and therefore they urged that an English sermon be 
delivered every Saturday afternoon and its text be taken 
from Scripture ; this suggestion was acted upon and such 
seiTtnons were delivered for some years, beginning in 1831, 
the preacher being the Rev. D. A. de Sola, but then this 
practice was discontinued until a later day*^. 

In May, 1821, a number of prominent members of the 
chief Ashkenazi synagogue, surnamed the Great, called the 
attention of the officers of the congregation to the inde- 
corum that prevailed during the public worship ; they 
claimed that this was caused in great part by the pro- 
longed Misheberakh (benedictions for money offerings), and 
petitioned that this portion of the service be shortened, 
for, wrote they, "it is pitiful to behold how indecently 
our solemn services are hurried on, particularly during 
the sacred holidays, in order to allow time for a system 
of finance, which, however beneficial in its operation, is 
certainly inconsistent with decorum and public order." 
In 1824 a committee of the vestry of this same synagogue 
recommended some improvements in the mode of reading 
the service ; although the recommendations were acted 
on, the evils complained of did not abate. In 1832 the 
Hambro synagogue abolished the sale of the mitzwoth, but 
the hope of such as desired to see the Misheberakh 

' Piociotto, Sketches of Anglo- Jewish Histoiy, p. 302, London, 1875. 
' Ibid., p. 326. 


abrogated was not fulfilled except in the case of the reform 
synagogue which was founded in 1841, as shall be set 
forth shortly. 

There had been agitations for reforms in Manchester 
which led to the introduction of preaching in the vernacular 
in this congregation in 1 838 \ 

This desire for reform in England was due to the fact 
that Judaism here, as elsewhere, had fallen out of touch 
with many, to whom the services in the synagogue 
seemed disorderly and unedifying. At this time the 
Spanish and Portuguese congregation had no Haham, 
as the spiritual chief of this community was designated ; 
no successor had been elected to H. H. Meldola, who had 
died in i8a8 ; his son, David Meldola, was appointed chief 
of the Beth Din ; the chief rabbi of the German community 
was Solomon Herschel, a typical rabbi of the old school, 
unacquainted with English or any modern learning. He 
had occupied the position since 1803 2. He preached twice 
a year in Yiddish, on the Sabbath before the Feast of 
Passover and on the Sabbath of the Penitential season, 
expounding the laws for the holidays. Both these men 
did all in their power to prevent the successful outcome of 
the active efiForts for reform which, beginning with the 
petition of December 4, 1836^, resulted in the formation 
of the reform congregation. This petition called forth a 
counter-petition from forty -five Yehidim on December 13, 
protesting against any reforms. The elders, and in fact 
the majority of the congregation, being in sympathy with 
the framers of the counter-petition, the memorial of the 
members who advocated the alterations met with little 
sympathy, although the elders, in the resolution which 
they passed discountenancing reform, credited them with 
purity of motive and intention. The same cry as is 

* Jost, CfeschicMe der Israeliien, X, Part II, p. 69. 

* H. Adler, The Chief Rabbis qf England, in Papers read at the Anglo-Jewish 
Historical Exhibition, 1887, p. 287, London, 1888. 

' Supra. 


always raised in similar circumstances was emitted also 
here ; it was urged that such changes would split Judaism 
into sects ; this argument carried especial weight in England, 
for there, as everywhere, the Jews are affected by their sur- 
roundings, and the doctrine of conformity to an established 
church which represents the prevailing religious attitude in 
England reacted and reacts without a doubt upon the Jews, 
and for that reason it has been so difficult for reform to 
gain a foothold in Anglo-Judaism. The petition of the 
reformers, however, had the effect of causing the elders 
to take steps to introduce better order into the services^. 

But the wheels of progress could not be stopped by such 
obstacles nor were the reformers to be satisfied with such 
slight measures. Even the advocates of the established 
order understood this, and the next step in the campaign 
was taken by some very orthodox members who, in order 
to meet any further agitation for reform, organized a society 
which they called " 8homere Mishmeret Akodesh," and 
defined as a "society for supporting and upholding the 
Jewish religion as handed down to us by our revered 
ancestors and to prevent innovations or changes in any 
of its recognized forms and customs, unless sanctioned by 
the recognized authorities^." The elders of the synagogue 
evinced their impartiality by urging that this society be 
dissolved, on the ground that it was unnecessary and 
would only tend to promote disunion. 

The reformers petitioned the elders again in 1 839 ; as 
before they set forth the necessity for changes in the 
service and urged their claim for consideration. The points 
on which they laid particular stress were, the diminution 
of the prayers, a more convenient hour of service on 
Sabbaths and holidays, English sermons, a choir, and the 
abolition of the observance of the second day of the 
holidays. This petition met the same fate as its pre- 

• Picciotto, Sketches of Anglo- Jewish History, p. 371. 

" Gaster, History of the Ancient Synagogue of Spanish and Portuguese Jews, 
p. 170. 


decessors ; it was disregarded. The reformers now took 
a more decided step. Not wishing to secede from the 
congregation they requested the elders to grant them per- 
mission to erect a branch synagogue in the West End of 
London in the vicinity of their homes, in which they might 
introduce the desired changes while the mother synagogue 
continued along traditional lines. This well-intentioned 
plan, whereby an absolute break might have been avoided, 
was refused by the elders, because it involved an infraction 
of the first ascamah or rule of the congregation, which 
forbade, under pain of excommunication, the establishing 
of any house of prayer, or the holding of any divine service 
not of a domestic nature, within a radius of four miles of 
the synagogue ^. Nothing remained now for those desiring 
reforms but to organize a new congregation, which they 
did, in connexion with some members of the German 
community who sympathized with their views. At a 
meeting held on April 15, 1840, by twenty-four gentlemen, 
eighteen of whom were Sephardim and six Ashkenazim, 
a reform congregation was organized. The reasons for 
doing so were set forth by the founders in the following 
declaration: " We, the undersigned, regarding public worship 
as highly conducive to the interests of religion, consider it 
a matter of deep regret that it is not more frequently 
attended by members of our religious persuasion. We 
are perfectly sure that this circumstance is not owing to 
any want of conviction of the fundamental truths of our 
religion, but ascribe it to the distance of the existing 
synagogues from our place of residence, to the length 
and imperfections of the order of service, to the incon- 
venient hours at which it is appointed, and to the 
absence of religious instruction in our synagogue. To 
these evils we believe that a remedy may be applied by 
the establishment of a synagogue at the western part of 
the metropolis, where a revised service may be performed 

* Ibid., p. 17. 


at hours more suited to our habits and in a manner more 
calculated to inspire feelinj^s of devotion, where religious 
instruction may be aiforded by competent persons, and 
where, to effect these purposes, Jews generally may form 
a united congregation under the denomination of British 
Jews." To give the movement definite shape, the following 
resolutions were adopted : 

" That it is expedient to establish a synagogue in the 
western part of the metropolis and that it be designated 
the West London Synagogue of British Jews." 

'* That a revised service be there performed in the Hebrew 
language in conformity with the principles of the Jewish 
religion, and in a manner best calculated to excite feelings 
of devotion, and that religious discourses be delivered in 
the English language." 

In the Introduction^ to the prayer-book, adopted some- 
what later by the newly-formed congregation, the following 
interesting statement is made in reference to the designation 
" British Jews " used in the address and resolution just 
quoted and in the title adopted by the congregation, namely, 
" The West London Synagogue of British Jews." The para- 
graph of the Introduction to which I refer may well be 
reproduced ; it states that " the differences which formerly 
existed between the Portuguese and German Jewish con- 
gregations, and which caused them to consider each other 
as half aliens in religious matters, have happily, by the 
progress of liberal sentiments, been removed, in as far as 
they obstructed that brotherly feeling which the unity of 
our religious system requires ; and the efforts of our newly- 
established congregation have been dii-ected, we hope 
successfully, to the obliteration of every vestige of that 
useless and hurtful separation. We have discarded the 
names indicating a connexion between us, natives of Great 
Britain, professing the Jewish religion, and the countries 
from which our ancestors immigrated, and we have adopted 
for our place of worship the sufficiently explicit designa- 

' p. XV. 


tion of 'West London Synagogue of British Jews.' In 
making this statement, it is expedient to notice that the term 
' British Jews ' has been chosen with a view only to efface 
the distinction now existing between the German and 
Portuguese Jews, and not in any way to constitute a new 
distinction, in a religious point of view, between the Jews 
of Great Britain and those of any other country." 

The inclusion of the abolition of the second day of the 
holidays among the desired reforms indicates that one of 
the primary causes of reform in Judaism was life itself. 
The life of the Jews in the new time when they were 
participating in the activities of the world was altogether 
different from what it had been when they were a ghetto- 
community. The orthodox element who were arrayed 
against this reform had no other argument to offer than 
that it was handed down by tradition ; they refused to 
recognize the fact that originally only one day had been 
observed, and that the keeping of the second day as a 
sacred day was in itself an innovation of a later time ; the 
reformers, on the other hand, claimed that the exigencies 
of life in the modern time demanded the abolition of the 
second day, that there was no warrant or sufficient reason 
for continuing its observance, that if the requirement of 
one age justified its institution, the necessities of the present 
justified no less its abrogation. Religious institutions must 
shape themselves according to the needs of the age, if they 
are to continue as living forces and not as dead letters. 

The movement to form the new congregation agitated 
the community greatly. While it was taking shape the 
chief rabbi of the German community, Solomon Herschel, 
and David Meldola, chief of the Beth Din of the Spanish 
and Portuguese congregation, addressed a lengthy com- 
munication to the London Committee of Deputies of 
British Jews, calling their attention to the reports that 
such a congregation was being formed, and urging them 
to use all their influence to prevent it. They contended 
that this movement, if successful, would disturb the peace 


of the community and introduce the evil of schism ; they 
pleaded for the observance of the law which had been the 
main bulwark and protection of Israel during twenty 
centuries: "Let us hesitate a long while ere we sanction 
any innovation, ere we tear down rashly any portion of 
the ' fence of the law ' which is sanctified by the reverence 
of centuries and still more by the authority of those who 
created it." Sincere the two ecclesiastical chiefs un- 
doubtedly were, but they closed their eyes to the fact that 
the people had begun to disregard the law, that the people 
had broken down "the fence" whereof they wrote so 
earnestly and pathetically. And when the people have 
taken such a step, when life has begun to make inroads, 
no legal or ecclesiastical provision, prohibition, or fiat will 
prove of much avail. The constituted authorities of the 
synagogue in England, as had been the case in Germany, 
were blind to the signs of the times. The onrushing waves 
of the ocean of life swept away many of the pickets of the 
fence of the law ; this they would not or could not see ; they 
attributed the reforms to wilful presumption, whereas they 
were really the result of the new currents of life that were 
flowing through the Jewish community. 

The rabbinical address resulted in no practical measure. 
It was purely rhetorical but made no definite suggestions. 
The Bevis Marks congregation put forth a final attempt to 
stop the reformers from carrying out their plan by the 
suggestion that a branch synagogue be erected in the West 
End of the city where most of the reformers lived, but that 
the service in this branch synagogue be exactly like that in 
the mother synagogue. Naturally, this did not meet the 
requirements of the case, and the proposal was not urged. 
The reformers remained insistent and continued perfecting 
their plans for the new congregation. Many meetings 
were held by both sides. Partisan passions were aroused 
and bitter feelings engendered. On June 2, 1841, the 
Bevis Marks congregation called upon the other congre- 
gations of the city to join with them in the efibrt to prevent 


such a flagrant violation of tlie traditional rules and laws 
of the faith as the programme of the new congregation 
intended^. Even this did not deter the founders of the 
new congregation from continuing in the work which 
they had undertaken. On August 34 they addressed a 
communication to the elders of the Bevis Marks synagogue, 
wherein they announced the fact that they intended to 
open a new place of worship and to introduce innovations 
and changes in the ritual ; they enumerated these as follows ^ : 
the service was not to exceed two hours and a half; to 
make this possible the prayers had to be abridged; they 
had therefore revised the prayers ; there was to be preaching 
in the vernacular ; the offerings were to be abolished except 
on the three high festivals when voluntary oflFerings could 
be made upon the return of the scroll of the law to the 
ark ; the second days of the holidays were to be abolished 
for " it is not the intention of the body of which we form 
a part to recognize as sacred days those which are not 
ordained as such in'Scripture ; and consequently they have 
appointed the service for Holy Convocations to be read 
on days only thus designated." They disclaimed, how- 
ever, all desire to produce a schism in the community 
and declared their willingness and their purpose to advance 
the interests of the mother congregation as they had 
hitherto. It was in a truly religious spirit that they 
wrote that these views have been carried into effect, not 
with any desire to separate "but through a sincere con- 
viction that substantial improvements in the public 
worship are essential to the weal of our sacred religion, 
and that they will be the means of handing down to 
our children and our children's children our holy faith in 
all its purity and integrity. Indeed we are firmly con- 
vinced that their tendency will be to arrest and prevent 
secession from Judaism, an overwhelming evil which has 

^ AUgemelne Zeitung des Judenthums, V, p. 732. 

* Israelii des neunsehnten Jahrhunderts, III, 167. Supplement to Jewish 
Ckronide, Jan. 29, 1892, p. 18. 


at various times spread among many of the most respectable 
families of our community. Most fervently do we cherish 
the hope that the effect of these improvements will be to 
inspire a deeper interest in and a stronger feeling towards 
our holy religion, and that their influence on the minds of 
the youth of either sex will be calculated to restrain them 
from wavering in their faith or contemplating for a moment 
the fearful step of forsaking their religion, so that hence- 
forth no Israelite born may cease to exclaim, 'Hear, 
O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.' We con- 
template encountering considerable difference of opinion, 
and even a strong prejudice against our proceedings, but 
we venture to hope that on further consideration, our 
motives and intentions will be duly appreciated and that 
those kindly feelings, which ought to exist between every 
community of Jews, will be maintained between the con- 
gregation which you represent and the small body whose 
views we have endeavoured to explain." 

The Elders made no acknowledgment of this commu- 
nication, but adopted a resolution denouncing the move- 
ment to open a new synagogue, and declaring the action 
of the promoters of the plan schismatic ; but matters had 
gone too far and the denunciation proved futile. But, 
unfortunately, the afiair did not stop with verbal denuncia- 
tion and recrimination. As at Hamburg the ecclesiastical 
heads of the existing congregations issued a Caution 
against the new congregation and its prayer-book, dated 
the ninth of Marheshvan, 5602 (October 24, 1841), in which 
they said, "when we saw this great evil we arose and 
supplicated the help of God to remove this stumbling- 
block from the path of our people, our brethren of the 
House of Israel .... we hereby admonish every person 
professing the faith of Israel and having the fear of God 
in his heart that he do not use or in any manner recognize 
the said book of prayer because it is not in accordance 
with our Holy Law and whoever will use it for the purpose 
of prayer will be accounted sinful." This Caution was 


sent to all the congregations in England ; the congre- 
gations of Liverpool and Manchester disapproved of it 
and returned it, while the Plymouth congregation burnt 
it ^. Evidently the terrors of ecclesiastical excommunication 
had become a thing of the past. In truth there were but 
few changes in essential teachings if any in the prayer- 
book which the new congregation issued in August with 
the title " Forms of Prayer used in the West London 
Synagogue of British Jews," and which was prepared 
by a committee consisting of Eev. D. W. Marks, Francis 
H. Goldsmid, Abraham Mocatta, and Moses Mocatta. In the 
excellent introduction to the book the editors, referring to 
the recent studies of Jewish scholars explained that the ritual 
of the synagogue represents a growth and drew from this fact 
the conclusion of the right and the necessity of producing 
a book of prayers that would appeal to their generation 
or as they put it, "it being thus evident that time has 
exerted its influence on these prayers, it is but meet that 
the exigencies of the time should again be consulted, when 
we have arrived at the conviction that the house of 
prayer does not exercise the salutary influence over the 
minds and hearts of the congregants which it is intended 
and capable to exert. History bears us out in the assump- 
tion, that it becomes a congregation of Israelites to adapt 
the ritual to the wants of its members ; and it must be 
universally admitted that the present mode of worship fails 
to call forth the devotion, so essential to the religious 
improvement of the people." The changes consisted mostly 
in abbreviations and eliminations whereby the service was 
shortened; such sections as the piPD inrs, rp''HD n»3, 
Iplia D1p^ &c., were omitted ; the Amidah of the Mussaf 
prayer was shortened and contained only the nunan piftS, 
the epitome of the benedictions. The most significant 
change possibly was the rendering of the Aramaic portions 
notably the Kaddish prayer into Hebrew. A few original 

* Jost, Oeschichte des Judmthums und seiner Sekten, III, 373 ; Israelit des 
neumehnien Jahrhunderts, III, 57. 


prayers for special occasions were included. Petitions for 
the restoration of the sacrificial cult in the Temple of 
Jerusalem were eliminated although the prayers for the 
return to Zion and the coming of the Messiah were retained. 
The editors of the book were quite right when they asserted 
that the service they had adopted was altogether based on 
the existing ritual with the exception of the few slight 
changes mentioned, and the bull of excommunication of 
the ecclesiastical authorities was therefore an extreme 
step even from the standpoint of tradition. 

The new congregation dedicated its synagogue in Burton 
Street, on January 27, 1842. David W. Marks, who had 
been elected secretary of the congregation, delivered the 
sermon ; Mr. Marks had been secretary and Reader of the 
Law of the congregation in Liverpool. In looking about 
for a leader the founders of the reform congi-egation decided 
upon Mr. Marks, who had acquired a reputation as an 
able and eloquent preacher. The choice was fortunate 
indeed, as his distinguished career has proved. In his 
dedicatory sermon Mr. Marks defended the right of the 
congregation to introduce reforms, and defined the position 
of the congregation towards the Talmud denying the 
authority of the the oral Law and accepting the Bible only 
as authoritative ^ ; he declared that it was not the purpose 
of the congregation to weaken their inherited faith, but 
to strengthen those great principles of the Law that their 
forefathers had heard at Sinai; they did not intend to 
abolish the old simply because it was old, nor yet to 
introduce the new merely because it was new ; their only 
guide was to be the call of truth and the service of 
God in a manner that would satisfy the needs of their 
generation ^. 

Even before the Caution against the prayer-book was 
published, a meeting had been held at the residence of the 
Chief Rabbi Solomon Herschel, which was attended by 
the wardens and honorary officers of the different synagogues 

* A. Z. d, J., VI, 263. ' Israelit des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts, III, 8i. 


and by the members of the London Committee of Deputies 
of British Jews.; at this meeting a declaration was read 
and approved as follows : " Information having reached me 
from which it appears that certain persons calling them- 
selves British Jews, reject the Oral Law, I deem it my 
duty to declare that, according to the laws and statutes 
held sacred by the whole house of Israel, any person or 
persons publicly declaring that he or they reject and do not 
believe in the authority of the Oral Law cannot be permitted 
to have communion with us Israelites in any religious rite 
or sacred act ; I therefore earnestly entreat and exhort all 
God-fearing Jews, especially parents, to caution and in- 
struct all persons belonging to our faith that they be 
careful to attend to this Declaration and that they be not 
induced to depart from our Holy Laws." This was signed 
by S. Herschel, Chief Rabbi, and was accompanied by the 
indorsement of the ministers of the Portuguese congrega- 
tion in these words : " We, the undersigned, fully concurring 
in the foregoing Doctrines, as set forth by the Reverend 
Solomon Herschel, certify such our concurrence under our 
hands this Twenty -Fourth of Ellul, 5601 A. M. 

David Meldola, 

A. Haliva, 

J. Levy, 

A. Levy, 

A. L. Barnet." 

Although written in EUul (September) this document 
was not promulgated till the following January, the reason 
being given in these further words accompanying it, " The 
promulgation of the above Declaration has been delayed in 
the hope that there would have been no necessity to give it 
publicity, circumstances, however, now require that it 
should no longer be withheld from the community " ; dated 
the 9th of Sebat, 5604 (January 2a, 1842). The circum- 
stances referred to were the forthcoming dedication of the 
synagogue of the reform congregation and its outspoken 


attitude on the question of authority as given voice to 
a few days later in the inaugural sermon of its minister. 

On January 19, 1842, the members of the new congre- 
gation addressed a letter to the Spanish and Portuguese 
congregation asking that their names be struck off the 
list of Yehidim of the old congregation ^ ; they had delayed 
taking this step in the hope that some method of reconcilia- 
tion would be found and that in time reforms would be 
introduced in the mother congregation. The break was 
now complete. Brother was arrayed against brother, 
whilom friend against friend. The traditionalists believed 
that the strength and salvation of Judaism depended on 
strict conformity in practice and belief to what had been 
handed down from the past, the reformers believed no less 
strongly in the right of private judgment in religious as in 
all other matters ; each party held to its conviction with 
the tenacity typical of the English character. 

The letter of January 19 resulted in drastic action on 
the part of the old congregation. The matter was con- 
sidered at several meetings and finally it was resolved that 
the signei-s of that letter " had forfeited all claims to the 
rights and immunities which they enjoyed as members of 
our community, that the grants made to them of seats in 
our synagogue are rescinded and annulled. They are also 
declared ineligible to act in any religious office or to 
perform a Mitzvah of any kind in the congregation. 
Neither shall any gift or offering be accepted from them, 
or in respect of them, in any way or under any form what- 
ever, during the time they remain in contumacy; they 
shall not be allowed burial in the camera of our Beth 
Bairn nor receive any of the religious rites and ceremonies 
paid to departed members of our communion ^." Thus was 

1 A. z. d. J., VI, 263. 

* This refusal of the Elders to permit the burial of the members of the 
congregation by the side of their beloved was a striking instance of 
religious bigotry ; no words are strong enough to condemn such acts that 
have been performed so frequently in the name of religion among all 


the Herem or edict of excommunication formally and 
solemnly pronounced against the reformers. On December 
14, 1845, a committee was appointed to consult with the 
ecclesiastical authorities upon the validity of this edict 
of excommunication; for the friends and relatives of the 
excommunicated, who had remained faithful members of 
the mother congregation were disquieted because of the 
religious disabilities under which the seceders were laboring ; 
besides the passing of time had somewhat softened the 
bitter feelings aroused at the time of the incident. After 
lengthy deliberations and protracted consideration the 
ecclesiastical authorities lifted the ban from the reformers 
on March 9, 1849 ^. 

The organization of the new congregation led to other 
serious practical consequences. On February 2, 1843, the 
reform congregation, through a committee named for that 
purpose, and consisting of Francis H. Goldsmid, Moses 
Mocatta, and John Simon ^, sent official notice to the Board 
of Deputies of Biitish Jews, the president of which was 
Sir Moses Montefiore, the most prominent Jew in England 
and famous particularly because of his great services in 
connexion with the notorious Damascus affair of 1840, 
of the existence of the congregation and requested them to 
certify that Mr. Marks was secretary of the synagogue. 
This was especially important in order to give validity 

sects. The new congregation was compelled to secure a burial ground of 
its own. It was two years and a half before it purchased its cemetery 
at Balls Fond. In the interval Mrs. Horatio J. Montefior«^ the wife of 
one of the organizers of the new congregation, died. The application to 
the Elders of the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue to permit her burial 
in their cemetery was refused. The new congregation entered immediately 
into an arrangement with the Maiden Lane Synagogue whereby, upon 
payment of fifty pounds per annum, they would be permitted to bury 
their dead in the cemetery of that congregation and have their minister 
ofSciate at the funeral. This was the only death in the congregation 
before the cemetery at Balls Pond was acquired. 

* For a full account of the successive steps taken in the matter, see 
Picciotto, Sketches of Anglo-Jewish History, p. 383. 

* See Supplement to Jewish Chronicle, Jan. 29, T892, p. 19. 

VOL. XVI. M m 


and legality to the marriages performed by the minister 
of the congi'egation or, as he was officially called, the 
secretary. Every marriage had to be registered and 
naturally only man'iages registered by one who was 
certified to be the secretary of a synagogue would have 
legal recognition and sanction. Sir Moses refused the 
request in a reply dated February 8, in which he stated 
that he had referred the matter to the ecclesiastical 
authorities of the Board of Deputies ; on the following 
day he declaimed that he did not recognize the new organi- 
zation as a Jewish congregation. The West London 
Synagogue, in its answer, dated February 14, called 
attention to the facts that the Board of Deputies counted 
no ecclesiastical authorities among its number and that 
every synagogue de facto has the right of existence in 
England without further ado or authority ; hence they 
asked a second time to have Mr. Marks registered as 
secretary of a synagogue and therefore empowered to 
perform all the acts of an accredited head of a congre- 
gation. Sir Moses persisted in his former declaration and 
maintained the position he had assumed. The committee 
of the West London Synagogue in its reply deplored the 
fact that a man of Sir Moses' distinguished services should 
so use his position as to cause internal strife in the com- 
munity ; for if the attitude of the president of the Board of 
Deputies would be upheld it could result in but one of two 
things, a contest before a court of law or in Parliament. 
They would not, however, resort to these extreme measures 
for the present because they wished to avoid the notoriety 
that would result from the public airing of the internal 
strife in the Jewish community; still they would not 
hesitate to take one of these steps should any difficulty 
be encountered in the registration of marriages performed 
by their minister. Sir Moses answered this pronouncement 
by making public the resolutions adopted by the committee 
of the Board of Deputies on February 7, which declared 
that all religious matters were to be referred to the 


ecclesiastical chiefs as heretofore; this was accompanied 
by the declaration of the ecclesiastical authorities quoted 
above to the effect that the new organization was not to be 
recognized as a Jewish congregation, and also by the 
resolution adopted by the whole Board of Deputies on 
February 14, in which they declared their entire approval 
of Sii" Moses' course. Such couples as desired to be married 
by Mr. Marks had to be married first by the registrar to 
legalize the marriage which was thereupon solemnized by 
the minister according to the rites of the religion. In 
1845 the West London Synagogue appealed to the Queen 
who on her part referred the matter to the then chief 
rabbi, Dr. Nathan Marcus Adler, the successor of Solomon 
Herschel who had died while the controversy between the 
two factions was still raging. How high the feeling ran 
even at this time may be learned from a remarkable action 
of Chief Rabbi Adler which was the occasion of the issuing 
of an address by the West London Synagogue on March 3, 
1846, detailing the course of events since the congregation 
had come into existence ; the action referred to was the 
refusal of the Chief Rabbi to permit the solemnization of 
a marriage between a member of the orthodox community 
and a girl whose father was aflS.liated with the reform 
congregation, and who herself had attended services there, 
unless the latter would promise to live in accordance with 
orthodox practice and never set foot in the reform synagogue. 
The incident was closed by the passing of an Act of 
Parliament, on July 29, 1856, entitled "An Act to Amend 
the Provision of the Marriage and Registration Acts," the 
twenty-second section of which makes special mention 
of the West London Synagogue of British Jews, and 
empowers its certified secretary to register marriage cere- 
monies ; the Bill also empowered the secretary of this 
synagogue to certify to the secretaries of other synagogues 
who would adopt the same ritual ^. 

> The Statutes of the United Kingdom and Ireland ; 19 and 20 Vict. 
1856, 674. 

M m a 


Thus the congregation reached the haven of peace after 
years of trial and struggle. Since then it has continued 
along the lines first laid down, hut has not made much 
further headway in this direction. The confirmation cere- 
mony was introduced at the very beginning, and on Sept. 
26, 1859, an organ was placed in the second house of 
worship of the congregation in Margaret Street, which had 
been dedicated in 1849. Reform has made but little pro- 
gress in England although preaching in the vernacular 
has been generally introduced. Only two other reform 
congregations have been established, namely in Manchester 
and Bradford. An agitation somewhat similar to that 
attending the formation of the reform congregation was 
witnessed in 190a when the Jewish Religious Union 
was launched in London. This was the first positive 
forward step for religious reform taken in London by a 
body of Jews since the organization of the West London 
Synagogue, and its story will be recounted in the proper 

David Philipson. 

Cincinnati 0., U.S.A.