|Vol. II, No. 1
Nissan 5604, April 1844
The Jews in Ohio.
Before proceeding further, permit me to make a few remarks from the period of the arrival of the first Israelite in Cincinnati to this date, the Israelites have been much esteemed and highly respected by their fellow-citizens, and a general interchange of civilities and friendships has taken place between them. Many persons of the Nazarene faith residing from 50 to 100 miles from the city, hearing there were Jews living in Cincinnati, came into town for the special purpose of viewing and conversing with some of "the children of Israel, the holy people of God," as they termed us. From the experience which we have derived by being the first settlers of our nation and religion in a new country, we arrive at the conclusion, that the Almighty will give his people favour in the eyes of all nations, if they only conduct themselves as good citizens in a moral and religious point of view; for it is already conceded to us by our neighbours that we have the fewest drunkards, vagrants, or individuals amenable to the laws, of any community, according to our numbers in this city or district of country; and we also appreciate the respect and esteem those individuals are held in, who duly conform to the principles of our religion, especially by a strict conformity to our holy Sabbath and festivals.
The original founders of our congregation were principally from Great Britain, and consequently their mode of worship was after the manner of the Polish and German Jews; but being all young people they were not so prejudiced in favour of old customs as more elderly people might have been, and especially as several of their wives had been brought up in Portuguese congregations. We therefore introduced considerable chorus singing into our worship, in which we were joined by the sweet voices of the fair daughters of Zion, and our Friday evening service was as well attended for many years as the Sabbath morning. At length, however, large emigrations of our German brethren settled amongst us; again our old customs have conquered, and the sweet voices of our ladies are seldom heard; but we have so far prevailed as to continue to this day, the following beautiful melodies, the 29th Psalm, מזמור לדוד which is chaunted as the procession slowly proceeds to deposit the Sepher Torah (Book of the Law) in the ark; also the אין כאלהינו and after the service is concluded none attempt to quit their seats until the beautiful hymn אדון עולם "Universal Lord! who the sceptre swayed," is finished, being sung by all the congregation in full chorus.
For several years we had no hazan (reader) and the service was read and chaunted in rotation by Messrs. David I. Johnson, Morris Moses, and Joseph Jonas. We had purchased a burial-ground about three years previous to our organization, and at that time Jonas Levy was our שוחט Messrs. Morris Moses and David I. Johnson were elected Parnass and Gabah for the year 5586; about which time Nicholas Longworth, Esq., gave the congregation a piece of land adjoining our burial-ground. During this year, a committee of correspondence was appointed to correspond with several congregations for the purpose of procuring aid from our brethren to build a Synagogue. Applications at this time were responded to from Charleston, S. C., and a remittance forwarded to us of one hundred dollars, also fifty dollars From Benjamin Elkin, Esq., of Barbadoes, W. I.; the names of all the donors were duly recorded; twenty dollars were also received from Joseph Andrews, Esq., of Philadelphia. Some time in the year 5588, the corresponding building committee reported 16l. 2s. equal to $71 55 cents, received from the congregation of Portsmouth in England; the name of each donor was also recorded.
About this time we lost a worthy member of our congregation, Samuel Joseph, Esq., late of Philadelphia, but originally from Plymouth, England. He lived respected and esteemed, and died regretted by every one, (peace be unto him;) also during the years 1826 and 1827, the God of our fathers thought proper to take to himself two amiable young women, sisters, and daughters of the late Rev. Gershom M. Seixas, of New York; lovely, in their lives, both mental and personal, it may easily be supposed how deeply they were lamented by their bereaved husbands, Abraham and Joseph Jonas.
During the year 5589, Messrs. Morris Moses and David I. Johnson were appointed a special committee to procure subscriptions towards building a Synagogue, from our brethren at New Orleans, and they reported 280 dollars collected; each individual's name was entered on record. About the same time Augustus Emden, Esq., gave us a donation of ten dollars.
During the month of July this year, the congregation purchased a suitable lot of ground on the east side of Broadway below Sixth Street, on which our present Synagogue is erected; thus far had the Lord prospered our way.