83 183 FISCHEL, ARNOLD (1830-94). Autograph Letter Signed written to Isaac Leeser, in English. Fischel notes his imminent plan to travel to Washington D.C. where he will attend to the Jewish Civil War wounded in the hospitals. He requests letters of introduction from Leeser for presentation to President Abraham Lincoln, and the Secretary of War, Joseph Holt, as part of Fischel’s campaign to gain the right of military chaplaincy for the Jews. Brown ink on paper. One page, central folds. 8vo. New York, 3rd December, 1861. $5000 - $7000 ❧ Dutch born, Arnold Fischel served as a rabbi in Liverpool, England, before emigrating to America in 1856 where he was appointed Lecturer at Congregation Shearith Israel, New York City. Reflecting on the loss of a talented young reverend like Fischel, the London Jewish Chronicle (August 22, 1856, p. 701) opined that “the United States, wiser than we are, profit by our apathy and attract to their shores talents which we seem unable to appreciate.” Fischel was a member of the Board of Delegates of American Israelites alongside Isaac Leeser, its vice president. Although American Jews had found themselves in a pleasing situation in terms of political rights since the very formation of the United States, not all rights enjoyed by all citizens had been extended to the Jews until they directly advocated for those rights (see Edward Eitches, Maryland’s Jew Bill, in: American Jewish Historical Quarterly Vol. 60.3 (1971) pp. 258-279). So it was, that upon the outbreak of the Civil War in April 1861, and the volunteering and conscription of American Jews in the Union army, that the Pennsylvania 5th Cavalry’s 65th Regiment installed a Hebrew teacher from Philadelphia named Michael Allen as a Jewish chaplain. At the time, all chaplains in the army were under the authority of the US Christian Commission, which promptly demanded Allen’s removal, noting that under law, a chaplain must belong to “a Christian denomination.” Fearing a dishonorable discharge from the army, Allen resigned. Thereafter, Fischel was appointed in his stead. Predictably, Fischel was rejected for the same reason. This time the Board of Delegates of American Israelites, a group founded in 1859 with the intent of coordinating all aspects of Judaism in America, asked Fischel if he would lobby for a change in the law under its banner. He accepted, and on December 10th met with President Abraham Lincoln, who “fully admitted the justice of my remarks… and agreed that something ought to be done to meet this case” (in Fischel’s words). Initially Lincoln offered to appoint Fischel chaplain directly, as he had done with Catholics, but Fischel set his sights on a change in law by Congress. After discussing the matter with his Cabinet, Lincoln gave Fischel a note expressing approval of “a new law broad enough to cover what is desired by you in behalf of the Israelites.” By March 1862 such a bill had passed both houses of Congress and was signed into law by President Lincoln. See Jonathan Waxman, Arnold Fischel: Unsung Hero in American Israel, in: American Jewish Historical Quarterly Vol. 60.4 (1971) pp. 325-343. 184 GRATZ, REBECCA (1781-1869). Autograph Letter Signed written to her sister Rachel Gratz, in English. Written to “dearest Rachel” back home in Philadelphia filled with information about Rebecca’s trip to New York, with news of their friends, both Jewish and Gentile; describes how she is about to ride by boat to Albany, which is “safer than land carriage.” Rebecca asks her sister to purchase various fabrics to send to their friends to make dresses and bonnets. Rebecca closes by sending her love to the rest of the family, and twice wishes Rachel “God bless you.” Three pages, autograph address panel on verso. 4to. New York, “At sunrise” 30th July, 1804. $4000 - $6000 ❧ This letter is a fine look into the social life of Rebecca Gratz and her close relationship with her sister Rachel (1783-1823). Indeed after Rachel died, Rebecca took her sister’s six children into her home and raised them herself. Rebecca never married. Deeply involved in Jewish education and other charitable good works, Rebecca was also highly sociable, friends with such American literati as Washington Irving. An educated woman who always sought to enrich her own Jewish learning, Rebecca remained a proud and devout Jew, amidst a very Christian environment, who never failed to defend her religious beliefs among Christian friends. Rebecca founded the Female Hebrew Benevolent Society in 1819 to service Jewish woman and children in need, who heretofore had to rely on the charity of Christians intent on evangelizing their Hebrew brethren in need. Rebecca was so well-regarded that a legend arose she was Sir Walter Scott’s inspiration for the character Rebecca in his 1819 novel Ivanhoe. Sir Walter was friendly with Rebecca’s friend Washington Irving, and it is widely suggested that Irving had told Scott about this remarkable young Jewish woman, a worthy model for a noble 12th century Jewess of England. If so, the Rebecca Gratz of Ivanhoe is much like the young Rebecca Gratz from the period of this letter. Lot 184 Lot 183