AUCTION 41 | Thursday, September 18th, 2008 at 1:00
Fine Judaica: Printed Books, Manuscripts, & Graphic Art

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Lot 14


Constitution of the Congregation of [Shearith Israel], As ratified by the Members thereof, at a Meeting held on...the 24th of June, 1805. English interspersed with Hebrew. pp.16. * With (As issued): An Act to Provide for the Incorporation of Religious Societies. Passed 27th March, 1801. pp. 9, (1 blank) Trace foxed. Original marbled endpapers. Disbound, stitched. Sm. 4to Singerman 0157

New York: G. and R. Waite 1805

Est: $5,000 - $7,000
Important and highly scarce Constitution of Congregation Shearith Israel, New York According to Article III, the prayers "shall forever be read in the Hebrew language according to the [Minhag Sephardim], but the Board of Trustees may on a public thanksgiving or other special occasion, direct the [chazan] or any other suitable perrson, to deliver an address, sermon, or moral lecture" (p.6). Other articles address the powers of the Parnasim, or officers of the Congregation, as well as details concerning the Beth Chaim, or cemetery. Article VII enjoins that the funds bequeathed by Myer Polonies "for the express purpose of establishing a Hebrew School" be used "to form such school under some suitable teacher or teachers" (p.7). Shearith Israel, the first congregation in New York, was first organized in or about 1706. Its first building, a small affair on Mill Lane (today South William Street), was erected in 1729-1730. The Spanish-Portuguese Congregation remained New York's only synagogue for the next century. It was not until 1825 that a dissenting group of Aschkenazic Jews broke away to form the Bnai Jeshurun Congregation. Today, Congregation Shearith Israel occupies a sumptuous building at Central Park West and 70th Street, built in 1897.