87 191 KURSHEEDT, GERSHOM (1817-63). Autograph Letter Signed written to Isaac Leeser, in English. In this detailed letter Kursheedt informs Leeser about various technical religious matters and is a mine of historical information about the procurement and price of Jewish religious articles in America in the middle of the 19th century, including the near- completion of a Torah Scroll by the scribe Nathan Oettinger, the purchase of “a common Shophar” for $5 (Kursheedt suggests that a congregation ought to possess two), details about knobs for an Ark, and Torah scrolls ordered from Europe. Kursheedt tells Leeser that he had the pleasure of meeting “Mr Schwartz of Jerusalem” - he means Rabbi Joseph Schwarz (1804-65) whose geographical researches in Eretz Israel were an invaluable blend of modern and rabbinic sources. Kursheedt tells Leeser that he believes Schwarz, then in America raising funds for the impoverished Jewish community of Jerusalem, is now headed to Philadelphia to meet him. Leeser must have found Schwarz a pleasure as well, for less than one year after this letter, Leeser translated and published an English version of Schwarz’s Tevu’oth HaAretz as “A Descriptive Geography and Brief Historical Sketch of Palestine,” (Philadelphia, 1850). Three pages, with autograph address panel on verso. 4to. New York, 26th August, 5609, (1849). $4000 - $6000 ❧ Gershom Kursheedt was one of the most distinguished and active Jews of 19th century America. His grandfather was Israel Baer Kursheedt, a European-trained Torah scholar, who though a layman, was the closest Colonial America had to an ordained rabbi. Gershom’s father was Gershom Mendes Seixas, who was hazzan, the learned lay leader, in New York’s Congregation Shearith Israel. Gershom settled in New Orleans in 1838, where he was active in both local and communal religious life, and, as we see in the present letter, a dear friend and ally of Isaac Leeser, with whom he shared common cause. In an 1848 letter to Leeser, Kursheedt revealed that he has “but one ambition in life, and that is to elevate the character of our people in the eyes of God and man.” (See Libo & Hoffman, The Seixas-Kursheedts and the Rise of Early American Jewry (2001) p. 51.) - Even without his saying so we would have realized this, for Gershom Kursheedt toiled to produce a vibrant Jewish life both in America and abroad, joining Sir Moses Montefiore on missions to Eretz Israel on multiple occasions. - Notably, it was Kursheedt who persuaded his New Orleans friend, the childless Judah Touro, to leave his vast fortune to Jewish causes. 192 KURSHEEDT, GERSHOM. Autograph Letter Signed written to Isaac Leeser, in English. A most friendly letter offering Leeser moral support in his conflict with the board of Mikveh Israel, his own synagogue, which had caused Leeser to resign as rabbi. Kursheedt assures Leeser “You know my sentiment with regard to yourself and your congregation. Give the malcontents rope &c.” Kursheedt predicts they will fail: “Time will show them up in their true colors. You may take my word for it.” He advises Leeser to respond by passive-aggressively: “Contemptuously being altogether silent on the subject.” Kursheedt provides news from New Orleans that the Ashkenazi synagogue, Shangarai Chasset, would be laying its cornerstone the following week, with Rev. James Gutheim officiating, and all the officers and members of Kursheedt’s Sephardic synagogue Nefuzoth Yehudah invited as guests. Two pages. 4to. New Orleans, (July, 1850). $3000 - $4000 ❧ Kursheedt was a close friend and admirer of Leeser, evidence of which is found throughout this letter, in which Kursheedt concludes by signing: “you know I am your ever attached friend Gershom K.” On the recto address-panel, rather than providing a street and house number, Kursheedt amusingly pens: “Revd Isaac Leeser Kaal Mickve Israel of Philadelphia State of Pennsylvania United States of the Continent of North America Situated in Cherry St. of said city of Philada on the North side at the distance of Sixty yards west of third. The Rt. Revd Isaac Leeser of Duilman Bavaria formerly officiating pastor of the flock of goats belonging to above Kaal now known as Editor of a periodical called the Occident published in said city of Philada having relinquished his office of Shepherd.” Lot 192 Lot 191