86 189 ILLOWY, BERNARD (1814-71). Autograph Letter Signed written to Isaac Leeser, in German with few Hebrew words. In this letter Illowy requests several copies of Leeser’s “Catechism for Jewish Children” for use in the Rabbi’s Sunday School in Baltimore. Illowy informs Leeser of recent successes in persuading members of his congregation to close their stores on the Sabbath and on Jewish holidays and recognizes that they are making a sacrifice to do so. Also discusses Benjamin Szold (“the new rabbi in the Hanover Street congregation”) and his opinions of liturgical reform. Brown ink on ruled paper. One and one-half pages, central folds, some fading, few short tears. With English translation (the typed transcription of which has partially offset onto the original letter). Folio. Baltimore, 24th October, 1859. $5000 - $7000 ❧ Bernard Illowy was a Moravian rabbi who had studied Talmud and Codes with the celebrated Chasam Sofer at his yeshiva in Pressburg, as well as Hebrew and Bible exegesis with Samuel David Luzzatto (Shadal) at his rabbinical seminary in Padua. Illowy took positions sympathetic to the revolutionaries in 1848, and was subsequently unable to secure a rabbinic position in Central Europe, he therefore migrated to the United States, instantly becoming one of the first ordained rabbis in the country. As a non-ordained clergyman, Isaac Leeser looked upon Illowy as an ally and a welcome reinforcement in strengthening the hand of Orthodox Judaism in America. Illowy would hold pulpits in numerous American cities, doing his best to strengthen traditional observance and stem the tide of reform. Illowy wrote responsa and essays on religious topics, publishing some of them in Leeser’s Occident. In this letter Illowy registers his disappointment that Baltimore’s Rabbi Benjamin Szold was opposed to Isaac Mayer Wise’s Minhag Amerika reformist siddur, but nevertheless wanted to create a reform liturgy of his own, being unopposed to reforms in principle, as Illowy was. 190 JACOBS, GEORGE (1834-84). Autograph Letter Signed written to the Committee of Congregation Beth El Emeth, in English with some Hebrew. This letter sets out the views on liturgical reform by George Jacobs, Rabbi of Beth El Emeth in Philadelphia. Four pages. 4to. Philadelphia, 20th October, 1872. $1500 - $2000 ❧ George Jacobs was a Jamaica-born Hazzan with a pulpit at K. K. Beth Shalome in Richmond, VA, before he was offered Isaac Leeser’s position following his death. In this letter we have a unique window not only into the desire for a moderate sort of reform in 19th century America, but also into the possibility of a Sephardic ‘Minhag America’ and how a Sephardic rabbi handled this request. Jacobs begins by stressing the need for peace, regardless of what the synagogue chooses. He then acknowledges the permissibility in principle of conducting some of the services in the vernacular, dating it to Second Temple times and the development of the Targumim. He also compares that to the contemporary practices in Sephardic congregations, where numerous parts of the service are conducted in Portuguese. Finally, he acknowledges that in their own time, sermons were given in the vernacular, as well as various prayers recited orally in English at events like funerals and weddings. So, writes Jacobs, “What can be done in one instance, can surely be done in another, provided the motives are laudable, and I can conceive of nothing more deserving… than elevating our worship, interesting young & old…” This permissive inclination must have felt like good news to those who had favored this reform, but then Jacobs drop the bad news - he cannot approve: “Notwithstanding these admissions, I do not think it right or proper that I should assume the grave responsibility of altering our liturgy by a Congregational Resolution or my own unaided judgment.” Jacobs suggests that if the congregation is set on this, they should build a consensus among the Portuguese congregations in America, and in so doing, establish a “stamp of authority for a “Sephardic Minhag of America.” Lot 190 Lot 189