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64 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 



BELIGIOUS LIFE IN THE HOME 1 . 

It is a favourite commonplace with preachers — I have 
done my part in spreading it — that the centre of gravity 
of Jewish religious life has been shifted in these latter 
days from the home to the synagogue. The statement 
requires some modification. 

In the first place, whatever shifting of the centre of 
gravity has occurred has been partial, not general. There 
are unquestionably many Jewish homes in which religion 
is on the wane. But there are also many, I am glad to 
think, in which it is as vigorous as ever. If there are 
families who are thrown back upon infrequent visits to the 
synagogue for the sustenance of a feeble spiritual life, there 
are others for whom attendance at the house of God is but 
the outcome and the complement of private devotions. At 
both extremes of our social organization, and at countless 
points between them, are to be found examples of a domestic 
religious life sufficiently strong to stand alone, if the need 
were to arise, without the buttress of public worship. In 
this respect the poor are no better off than the rich, nor the 
rich better off than the poor. It is easy to indulge in cheap 
generalizations, and affirm that the West Enderwho bemoans 
the spiritual destitution of the Ghetto, exposes himself to the 
retort anent the mote and the beam. A little thought will 
show the fallacy of such contrasts. There is doubtless more 
ceremonial observance in the Ghetto. But if it would be 
wrong to infer from the fact that there is less religion 
among the poor, it would be equally wrong to infer that 

1 A Paper read before the West London Synagogue Association on 
June 30, 1901. 



RELIGIOUS LIFE IN THE HOME 65 

there is more. The truth is that the extent to which 
ceremonial is put to religious uses is largely a matter of 
individual temperament. While some people cannot get 
on religiously without a great deal of it, others can 
comfortably dispense with all but a minimum. And if 
Whitechapel is not to be blamed, but praised, because it 
gives effect to its abundant need for ceremonial, Hyde 
Park must not be censured because, feeling that need less, 
it shows greater reserve in the expression of its religious 
sentiments. 

Secondly, it may fairly be questioned whether such 
a shifting of the centre of gravity as that to which 
I have referred is possible — possible, that is to say, 
without involving the danger of instability. The preachers 
who repeat the commonplace with which I started, do so 
with no satisfaction. If Judaism has come to this pass, 
that it has to depend for its existence upon its public 
worship, then I fear it is in a bad way. The meagre pro- 
portions of the average congregation are a solemn warning 
against the comfortable illusion that the synagogue may be 
trusted to replace the home as the citadel of religion. It is 
not accomplishing this task now, and it neverwill accomplish 
it. It is obviously idle to suppose that one Kippur in the 
year, even with a Passover thrown in, can furnish the 
materials of a healthy religious life. It may save a man 
for Judaism ; it may rekindle in some measure his Jewish 
consciousness ; it may keep him within the pale. At most 
it may prove him to have the promise and the potency of 
religion. But that is all. Much more is needed to make 
him a religious Jew, one consciously living his life under 
the influence of Jewish ideals. 

The synagogue then, by itself, can do little for religion ; 
though, joined to a mightier, because a more continuous, 
a more pervasive force, it may do very much for it indeed. 
The true stronghold of Judaism, even in these days, is the 
home. In the ages of persecution Judaism lived a vigorous 
life because it had this fortress in which to entrench 

VOL. XIV. F 



66 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

itself. The Jew in his wanderings often had no syna- 
gogue. But wherever he halted, he had some semblance 
of a home, which his religion at once ennobled into 
a sanctuary. The "domestic shrine" was for him no 
empty phrase. The home was almost as truly God's 
house as the synagogue itself. The symbol that was 
displayed at the doorpost proclaimed the fact to him in 
mighty tones. Deprived of his synagogue he was able, 
nay, he was bound to carry on its worship in miniature in 
the "little sanctuary" which he set up with his family 
tent. Sabbaths and festivals could live independently of 
the house of prayer, for their advent was honoured by 
special domestic rites. Nay, in every detail the home was 
a temple, and the commonest incidents of family life were 
transfigured into worship. The table was an altar, the 
food a sacrifice, the parents were priests, the children 
a congregation. It is impossible to exaggerate the part 
which the home has played in the preservation of Judaism. 
It must continue to play that part. Our interpretation 
of Judaism may change, and with it our ideas of what 
constitutes home-religion. But the primary need remains. 
Judaism, if it is to live, must be rooted in the hearts of 
the children, and therefore it must be rooted in the home, 
whence the affections of the children draw their life-blood. 
There is reason to believe that we are once more beginning 
to realize this truth. The decline of home-religion during 
the past quarter-of-a-century is a fact patent to every one 
who has eyes to see and ears to hear. The movement is 
not Jewish, but general. It is part of a larger movement, 
moreover, which has injuriously affected religion itself. 
But the sensitive gaze will detect symptoms of a happy 
reaction. The tide of unbelief, which seemed to have 
submerged the thinking public three decades ago, has 
begun to flow back ; and the Jewish mind, ever sympa- 
thetic to external influences both for good and for evil, has 
been caught in the ebb. The clear insight that has enabled 
thoughtful persons of every creed to see that the teachings 



KELIGIOUS LIFE IN THE HOME 67 

of a Darwin and a Spencer, a Tyndall and a Huxley, are 
not necessarily destructive of religion, has found its counter- 
part, doubtless its consequence, in a renewed disposition on 
the part of Jews to give the things of the spirit their 
rightful place among the realities of life. The indications 
of the change may be faint, but they are unmistakable. 
Congregations are certainly not larger, but they are inclined 
to be more devout. A new standard of teaching seems to 
be demanded from the pulpit. Those sermons appear to be 
most satisfying that help to reconcile the soul, oppressed by 
the cares of life, with the great verities of religion, with the 
conception of a just and loving God. The preacher is 
thanked more than ever for what are called "helpful" 
discourses, for words of comfort and encouragement that 
send some bruised heart to fight its battle anew with 
the fortitude that faith in the Unseen alone can give. 
This is a sign, not of blind belief, but of that "will to 
believe " which is incomparably more valuable. People at 
any rate listen while the preacher justifies the ways of God 
to men ; not so long ago they would have been indifferent 
or impatient. A reawakening of interest in the Bible and 
Jewish history is also among the signs of a better day. 
Twenty years ago a Jewish Study Society in England 
would have been an impossibility. Finally, there is the 
improvement that has taken place in recent years both 
in the quantity and quality of Anglo-Jewish devotional 
and religious literature. All these are facts which, 
without exaggerating their significance, we may fairly 
regard as containing the promise, at least, of a religious 
revival. Judaism, then, we may justly hope, has not 
fallen so low as to have to depend upon the synagogue 
alone for the sustenance of its religious life. Its beliefs 
and ideals are once more taking root in the heart. 
But if the new movement to which I pin my faith 
is a reality, it will grow in healthy fashion. It will 
be no superficial manifestation. It will strike its roots 
downward, It will take its rise in the home, the spring 

F a 



68 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

of all wholesome activities, the nursery of every exalted 
sentiment. 

Thus I approach the practical side of my subject. I ask 
you to bear with me while I attempt to show how the 
new aspirations, in the existence of which I am sanguine 
enough to believe, may be realized, how the religious life of 
the home may be cultivated and deepened. 

A religious life, as we usually understand the expression, 
is impossible without prayer. And so, without prayer, 
there can be no domestic religious life. The morning 
devotions are the foundation of the day's moral and spiri- 
tual activities, just as breakfast is the foundation of the 
day's physical and mental labours. It is the inspiriting 
"send-off" given us by God himself as we set out on 
another stage of our life's journey. Upon that point we 
are all agreed. If there is to be religion in the house, 
it must have, as its starting-point, solitary prayer, the 
daily submission of one's need and oneself to infinite 
wisdom, the communion of "the alone with the Alone." 
But shall there not be collective worship as well? May 
not prayer in one's chamber be advantageously supple- 
mented by family devotions 1 I would say Yes, for the 
sake of the children more especially. In former times, we 
are told 1 , the Bible and the Prayer-book were regularly 
studied by Jews in family conclave. Nay, the pious Israelite 
of old, wrapping himself daily in his talith, would recite the 
whole of the morning service ; but he loved to have his boy 
by his side, though the child was old enough to repeat only 
a few sentences. For us the Prayer-book is no longer 
sacro-sanct, and we have assumed the right to choose our 
devotional materials for ourselves. But the old idea that 
brought parent and child together in prayer may well 
survive. There is something beautiful in this spiritual 
bond. The family stand together in the presence of God. 
That sacred communion unites them, and becomes the type 
and suggestion of a spiritual kinship transfiguring, rather 

1 Abrahams' Jewish Life in the Middle Ages, p. 131. 



KELIGIOttS LIFE IN THE HOME 69 

than transcending, the ties with which nature has bound 
them together. Through periodical family worship the 
home becomes hallowed ground in the sight of its indwellers, 
in the sight of the children more particularly. For them too 
prayer itself is clothed with a deeper sanctity, a heightened 
lovablenessj by being associated with the parents. And 
their reverence for it lives when childhood and youth have 
long passed away. The prayerful habit is often fed by 
filial sentiment. The man goes on praying because years 
ago he used to pray at his mother's knee. He loves the 
act because she taught it him. The memories of childhood 
give it an added consecration which forbids him to let it 
die. Family prayer, moreover, is an excellent preparation 
for the public worship of the synagogue. Even in these 
days when children's services are beginning to be the 
fashion, it is well to have family worship both as an 
introduction and as a supplement to them. 

It need hardly be said that all such worship should be 
simple and brief. A very few minutes will suffice for 
it on working days. As to the form of the service, 
the details may be left to the individual choice. But 
I would suggest that to a brief prayer or two, a psalm 
or some other scriptural passage should be added. The 
Psalm consecrated by traditional use is the twenty-third, 
" The Lord is my Shepherd." It has long been regarded as 
the children's Psalm. The first paragraph of the Shemang, 
which, by virtue of its associations and its contents, is well 
worthy of the distinction, should be a fixed ingredient. It 
would be well to say it, if possible, in Hebrew as well as 
in English, so as to accustom the little congregants to the 
sacred tongue. But the rest of the service will doubtless 
be in English. Even the Babbins allow us to offer private 
prayer in any language we please. 

I have spoken thus far of morning prayer. But that 
ought not to complete the devotional exercises of the day. 
Nor does it. The parent usually sees that the child does 
not lie down to rest at night without holding speech with 



70 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

God. But there is an obvious danger in thus hallowing 
only the extremes of the day. Religion is apt to become 
a matter of times and seasons instead of an affair of life 
itself, a spasmodic influence instead of a continuous inspi- 
ration. The Rabbins sought to guard against this danger 
by associating a prayer with every act of the daily life, 
however familiar, on smelling the scent of a flower, for 
example, or partaking indeed of any enjoyment. The 
specific act was thus sanctified, and with it the whole 
domain of the daily life. Some of the Rabbinic ordinances, 
that of the Grace before and after meals, for instance, might 
well retain our allegiance. It may be objected that Grace 
tends to become a stereotyped formality. It is often said 
hurriedly, with an eye to the good things that are coming 
or to the welcome freedom from the restraint imposed upon 
well-bred children at table. But the objection can be 
urged with equal force against all devotional exercises 
that are not absolutely spontaneous. It is for the parent 
to warn the children against a merely mechanical perform- 
ance of any religious rite by explaining from time to time 
the solemn significance of communion, either in word or in 
act, with the Supreme. My religion classes begin and end 
their work with prayer. Many of the children take part in 
it with closed eyes and bowed heads. They do this of their 
own accord. I have never told them to do it. I prefer to 
leave the matter to their own initiative rather than run 
the risk of making them formalists. But whenever I notice 
that a child's eyes are wandering or that his attitude or 
manner is unbecoming, I privately remind him of the lessons 
on the sacred import of prayer which he has so often been 
taught in class. 

I am an advocate, then, of a short form of Grace for 
children. Properly explained, it helps them to realize the 
great duty of hallowing secular things which Judaism has 
done so much to inculcate. Even so commonplace an act 
as eating or drinking may be done for the glory of God, 
made one of the avenues to the higher life. Moreover, as 



RELIGIOUS LIFE IN THE HOME 71 

the Talmud finely says, to taste of earthly joys without 
thanksgiving, is to commit sacrilege. The recital of a 
Grace over food obviously fosters a sense of dependence 
upon the divine hand for the most elementary blessings, 
and with it the gratitude which is its corollary. These 
are invaluable factors of the religious consciousness ; and 
a rite that helps to furnish them so readily is assuredly 
worth preserving. 

Prayer, however, is not the only aid to the religious life. 
We Jews, with our religious history before us, certainly 
cannot afford to forget the truth. Judaism has largely to 
thank its ceremonial system for its survival. Nay, to 
speak more generally, ceremonial is the elementary require- 
ment of the average religionist, whatever his creed. His 
very need of uttering himself in prayer proves it. For 
what are prayerful exercises but ceremonial ? As soon as 
the religious sentiment becomes articulate, as soon as such 
feelings as gratitude or adoration or submission find ex- 
pression in words, we have already entered the domain of 
ritual and confessed its necessity. But if this need be 
common to all, how greatly is it increased in the case of 
children, who can best seize the abstract through the con- 
crete, and to whom religious truth comes home most surely 
when it appeals to their imagination and their wonder. 
The old Rabbins, who ordained that the observance of the 
Seder night should be made as strange and unusual as 
possible, so that the children might be provoked to ask 
questions and thus pave the way for the instruction which 
they had themselves courted, were clearly sound psycho- 
logists. And when we remember that Judaism is an 
historic system, with the moving life-story of Israel for one 
of its chief inspiring forces, the need of a ceremonial that 
shall make the past live vividly in the child's imagination 
retains, even in these days, all its old imperiousness T . 

1 Mr. Israel Abrahams quotes from Benjamin II the following striking 
custom, which formed part of the Seder ceremonial : — "A boy, dressed as 
a pilgrim, with a staff in his hand and a wallet containing bread on his 



72 THE JEWISH QUAKTEKLY EEVIEW 

No ; with all our praiseworthy desire to spiritualize our 
religion, we cannot dispense altogether with ceremonial 
observances. They are like the pictures in a book, which 
illustrate its meaning, and fix its story in the mind; and 
the children love them just as they love the pictures. 

I hold no brief, of course, for Jewish observances as 
a whole. It is obviously impossible to use the entire 
ceremonial apparatus provided in the code-books. Not 
a little of it is obsolete for one reason or another. But 
then not a little of it is still living, and deserves to 
live. A notable example is the observance of Friday 
night. The gradual decay of this beautiful element of 
home-religion is being attended with serious spiritual loss. 
The hallowing of the Sabbath eve has perhaps done more 
than any other ceremonial act to preserve the religious 
consciousness in the Jewish mind. Nor is it difficult to 
account for its power. With the Sabbath there enter into 
the home that welcomes it those angelic visitants, peace 
and love. It is the time for family reunion, all the more 
precious in these days when parents and children see less of 
each other than of old, and when it is possible almost 
without absurdity to tell of a child asking with reference 
to his father, who the gentleman is that carves the joint on 
Sundays 1 And family reunion means the strengthening of 
the ties that bind youth to virtue. Friday night too is the 
season of family worship, with all its benign influence upon 
the religious sentiment. Into its observance ancient practice 
has woven many a picturesque rite — the solemn kindling of 
the Sabbath lamp, the benediction of the children by the 
father, the recital of the Sanctification, the breaking of the 
bread — symbols charged with impressive meaning for all, 
but especially full of charm for the young. These acts are 

shoulders, enters, and the master of the house inquires : ' Whence 
oomest thou, pilgrim?' 'From Egypt.' 'Art thou delivered from 
bondage?' ' Yes ; I am free.' ' Whither goest thou ? ' 'To Jerusalem.' 
' Nay, tarry with us to read the recital of the Passover.' " — Jewish Life in 
the Middle Ages, p. 127. 



RELIGIOUS LIFE IN THE HOME 73 

still precious to many, and those who thus cherish them are 
assuredly not without their reward. 

But whatever its precise details, let the custom of honour- 
ing the Sabbath eve continue. For its effects upon the 
young are immeasurable; nay, they are lasting. The 
memory of the Friday night of his childhood is the last 
to fade from the mind of the grown man ; it is the last that 
is dislodged from his heart. Love binds him to the old 
observance and to the old religion — love all the mightier 
because, as in the case of prayer, filial sentiment enters 
largely into it. He clings to these rites with all the more 
affection because with them is inseparably blended the 
memory of the parents who presided over them in the dear 
old days. 

But apart from all this, is there not something gracious 
in the act of consecrating a season out of the week of work 
and play to the service of the Highest 1 Granted that some 
people cannot sanctify the Sabbath day, it does not follow 
that they cannot hallow the Sabbath eve. And this rem- 
nant, at least, of the ancient obedience ought to be saved 
if the Jew is not to lose something more precious still, 
and to admit the sordidness of which it is the fashion to 
accuse him. Heine's Princess Sabbath is familiar enough. 
A maleficent sorcery has changed Israel, the King's son, 
into a dog. 

But every Friday evening, 

In the gloaming, suddenly 

The enchantment passes, and the dog 

Becomes again a human creature, 

A man, with manly feeling, 

With head and heart erect once more. 

And if the down- trodden Jew of Ghetto-times was redeemed 
and transformed for the nonce by the coming of his Princess, 
her advent shall surely do no less for his more fortunate 
descendants in these days. It will preserve one oasis for 
them among the all too arid desert. It will keep a corner 
of their lives sweet and calm and joyous in an age that is 



74 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

not too cleanly, and which is rather gay than glad. It 
will give their higher selves a chance ; it will give God 
a chance. 

To some of my hearers my language may seem exaggerated. 
But if so, I can only say experto crede. " How you enjoy 
your Sabbath meal!" cries a Roman emperor to aTalmudic 
sage. " Yes," is the answer ; " we use a wonderful spice." 
"Give me some of it," says Caesar. "Impossible," is the 
reply; "for the spice is the Sabbath itself, and only those 
who sanctify it can appreciate its nameless delights." Yes, 
it is only those who hallow the Sabbath eve that can 
understand all the elevating happiness it yields. The old 
Sabbath poem calls it "a fountain of blessing," and that 
is exactly what it is. And of that blessing the children 
necessarily have a goodly share. For they breathe the 
religious atmosphere that the Sabbath brings into their 
home, and it feeds and nourishes them. 

In the same category with the Sabbath eve we may 
place the Seder night, with all its wealth of old-world 
rites, all its store of old-world memories, an institution 
which, mox'e directly than any other, brings us into sympa- 
thetic communion with the Israel of the past, and makes 
us the sharers of his griefs and his joys, his history and his 
hopes. But every festival, I submit, deserves a more 
honoured place in the home than is often assigned to it. 
Too many of us are content with celebrating our sacred 
days in the synagogue alone, and at a season of light the 
domestic sanctuary is left cold and dark. Surely if there 
is one place where "the Feasts of the Lord" should be 
welcomed, it is under the family roof- tree, where the 
children gather, children whom the holy guest may nobly 
inspire with his story. 

And if we ought to reverence the consecrated seasons, 
why not the sacred symbols too ? Take, for example, the 
Mezuzah. Might it not, at any rate, hang at the door of 
the nursery or the schoolroom, thence to carry its silent 
message to the receptive hearts within ? No emblem makes 



RELIGIOUS LIFE IN THE HOME 75 

more surely for spiritual religion. Reserved as it is exclu- 
sively for the home, its characteristic lesson is the duty of 
sanctifying the home-life by personal goodness. And the 
gracious lesson is reinforced by the words it contains and 
by the Divine Name written across it. "The home," it 
cries, "may be made the abode of God if its indwellers 
will but enshrine him there by their own beautiful lives." 
Explain the emblem thus to the child, and you teach him 
a priceless lesson. It can be taught, no doubt, without 
recourse to the Mezuzah or any other symbol. But I 
question whether it can be taught as effectively. 

And this suggests a word in favour of the old Jewish 
custom of consecrating a new house with prayer. It is 
a graceful and suggestive practice, which, it is good to 
think, is becoming more widely honoured among us in 
these days. But those who are faithful to it should not 
overlook its effects upon the young. At all such cere- 
monies — for the consecration of the house is only one of its 
kind — the children should be present. Even if they do not 
fully realize the significance of the rite, they will have the 
memory of it to weave into their religious consciousness, 
and perhaps to become a spiritual influence in the after- 
years. Who shall say how and when the good seed may 
germinate in a child's mind ? 

That ceremonialism is a valuable adjunct to religious 
training we seem now to be recognizing more clearly. We 
are beginning to see that a halt must be called to that 
process of wholesale demolition which has swept away 
indiscriminately the good with the bad in Jewish practice. 
A striking instance of this awakening is furnished by our 
brethren across the seas. A few years ago American 
Judaism was almost a synonym for destructiveness. But 
it is manifesting a new spirit. Retaining all its theo- 
logical liberalism, it is showing signs of a more conservative 
temper with regard to ceremonial. An attempt is being 
made in many congregations of the United States to revive 
long-disused observances, to bring out the old symbols once 



76 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

more, and by exhibiting their poetic meaning, to win fresh 
acceptance for them. At present I can discern no symp- 
toms of a kindred movement in this country, but it is time 
that it came if our religion is not to fade away into a vague 
and colourless theism. 

This again may be a hard saying, coming from me. It 
may be interpreted as a confession of the inadequacy of 
Reform, and as an indication of a desire to retrace our 
steps towards conservatism. But only those who are 
ignorant of the facts will so understand it. The movement 
of sixty years ago aimed not at the destruction of cere- 
monialism, but at its purification. The proof is in our 
Prayer-book, which retains the Kiddush for Sabbaths and 
Holydays and the Seder Service for Passover. And I 
rejoice to think that there are still many members of 
our congregation whose home -life is brightened and 
uplifted by the hallowing of Sabbaths and Festivals, 
clinging jealously as they do, especially for their children's 
sakes, to an observance which has been fruitful in blessing 
for themselves ever since the days of their own childhood. 
But even if I were conscious of advocating quite a new 
departure in the direction of conservatism, I should not 
be uncomfortable. The true reform is that which seeks 
for the constituents of its religion within the entire Jewish 
domain. And he who wanders in a garden ought not to be 
deterred from gathering a tempting flower because he will 
have to retrace his steps in order to reach it, and so confess 
that he has been heedless of some of the beauty around 
him. The task of the religious reformer is to rebuild. 
But in a system like Judaism he builds best who does not 
disdain the old materials. 

But this by the way. Earnest-minded parents are some- 
times at a loss to know how their boj T s and girls should 
spend Saturdays when in the country. Public worship is 
not available, and while the young people ought to have 
their due recreation, the day, we feel, ought not to pass 
without some formal recognition of its sacred character. 



RELIGIOUS LIFE IN THE HOME 77 

That there should be some sort of service, however simple, 
we shall, I trust, all agree by this time. Even in house- 
holds where daily family prayers are not the rule such 
a service should be held, first in order to mark the sanctity 
of the day, and, secondly in order to prevent a violent 
breach between the religion of the town and that of the 
country. The home, for the time being, must take the 
place of the synagogue. Children must not be allowed 
to think that religion is a matter of geography, and that 
Sabbath devotions, while quite de rigueur in London, may 
safely be dispensed with — let us say— at Folkestone. 

Short devotional meetings, then, ought to be held, at 
which prayer is supplemented by suitable readings from 
the Bible and other religious books. Valuable helps for 
such exercises are fortunately ready to hand in Mr. Alfred 
Cohen's little Prayer-book, Miss Lily Montagu's newly 
compiled service for children, Mr. Montefiore's Bible for 
Home Reading, and, for the younger children, the small 
volume on the Pentateuch written by my wife and her 
sister 1 . There are also various collections of sermons by 
Jewish preachers which will furnish suitable passages for 
reading. These devotional exercises will doubtless take 
place, as a rule, in the house. But they may occasionally 
be advantageously carried on in the open air. A lady told 
me a few days ago that she was accustomed, when spending 
the summer holidays in the country, to take her children, 
with their prayer-books and bibles, into the fields or on 
to the hills. It is a good plan. It ensures variety, and 
Nature's glorious temple lends its impressiveness to the 
worship. Wherever they are held, the parent will strive 
to make these prayerful exercises as unconstrained and as 
lovable as possible, not only by wise choice of material, 

1 Among other suitable books may be mentioned Little Miriam's Bible 
Stories and Boys of the Bible, both by Lady Magnus ; Mrs. N. L. Cohen's 
Infants' Bible Reader ; Mrs. Philip Cohen's Bible Readings with my Children ; 
the late Miss Emily Harris's Narrative of the Holy Bible ; Mrs. Henry Lucas's 
Jewish Tear, and Miss Nina Davis's Songs of Exile. 



78 THE JEWISH QUARTEKLY REVIEW 

but also by infusing into them as much fervour, as much 
of his own personality, if I may say so, as possible. The 
children ought to be able to look back upon these simple 
acts of worship as some of the most cherished incidents 
in their experience. 

Saturday in the country — I might almost say every day 
in the country — is an excellent opportunity for those little 
informal talks on sacred and semi -sacred topics that help 
so largely to fashion the fabric of religion in the child's 
heart. That opportunity especially presents itself in the 
walks that parents and children take together. Direct 
instruction the wise parent will know how to avoid. The 
child must gather in the firstfruits of the higher knowledge 
in almost complete unconsciousness of the fact that he is 
being taught. And these outdoor walks afford this special 
opportunity just because the instruction is spontaneous. 
No books will be used save Nature's eloquent volume. 
The most familiar objects — sea and sky, meadow and 
mountain, the shore, the cliffs, the flowers, beast, bird, 
and beetle — all may furnish texts for little sermons about 
God and duty. " Speak of them to thy children when 
thou walkest by the way," says the Bible; and surely 
it says well. These walks and talks are one of the child's 
most coveted joys. But, like everything else, they will 
only be prized as long as they are not overdone. The 
Sabbath is to be a delight, not a weariness of the flesh. 
It is to be honoured by play as well as by prayer 1 , by 
eloquent silence as well as by inspiring speech. Religion 
we should always have with us, but the religious teacher 
must efface himself from time to time if, when he does speak, 
his words are to be acceptable. 

A hint, you will say, to myself. I take it, and will only 
stipulate for a peroration, the preacher's dearest prerogative. 
I am not so sanguine as to believe that the ideas I have put 
forward are likely to be adopted by those who have long 

1 Even in olden times Jewish children indulged in games on the 
Festivals — Schechter, Studies in Judaism, p. 370. 



KELIGIOUS LIFE IN THE HOME 79 

since built up their home life on other lines. In the religious 
ordering of one's household it is, I admit, very difficult to 
begin de novo. But to those who have already anticipated 
my suggestions, this paper may possibly be useful in en- 
couraging and confirming them in their practice. Nor can 
I forget that the generations come and go, and that one day 
youth, yielding to one of the most sacred of impulses, will 
be setting up a home for itself. When that day comes to 
one or other of my younger hearers I would fain hope that 
my pleading this afternoon may be found to have fallen on 
sympathetic hearts. 

Mobbis Joseph.