87 123 GUTHEIM, JAMES K (1817-86). Two Autograph Letters Signed, each written to ISAAC LEESER, in English and Hebrew. In the first letter Gutheim affirms his friendship with Leeser and discusses his feelings about embarking upon his next congregational appointment. In the second letter Gutheim writes of his recent arrival to serve as Rabbi in New Orleans (see below). One page (integral blank featuring address panel, portion cut but not affecting text of letter). * Second letter: Twelve pages. Louisville, 25th December, 1849, and New Orleans, 28th November, 1853. $3000 - $5000 ❧ In the second, lengthy letter, Gutheim reports to Leeser that matters in New Orleans were “in a deplorable state.” The synagogue was “miserable …its very appearance suggestive of disorder” and the congregation was most “uneducated and ignorant.” Other than the ability to read Hebrew very poorly, the children receive no Jewish education. Gutheim writes that he had been warned of this, yet “the reality far exceeded my gloomy expectations!” Optimistically, Gutheim writes that there is much he could accomplish. Indeed, he states that in his first sermon he informed the congregation what they should expect of him and what he hoped to expect of them; thereafter: “the congregation became attached to me and appeared to be proud of me.” Nonetheless Gutheim also complains here of some of the indignities he suffers, such as congregants regularly decamping the synagogue just as he ascended to the pulpit to deliver his Sabbath sermon. Overall, this letter is an unvarnished look at the realities of serving in the rabbinate in mid-19th century America. James Koppel Gutheim shared a similar biography, geographic background, and even a childhood Talmud teacher with Isaac Leeser. 124 LEESER, ISAAC. Autograph Letter Signed written to Henry S. Spier, in English. Leeser responds to a letter from Spier, his agent in Boston, about Occident subscription difficulties with one Mr. Milkman. Two pages. Philadelphia, 6th November, 5612, (1851.) $2000 - $3000 ❧ Henry Spier’s original letter to Leeser is preserved in the Gershwind-Bennett Isaac Leeser Digitization Project (University of Pennsylvania) and bears the same date as Leeser’s response. Leeser was involved in a whirlwind of activities, leading a congregation, preaching, teaching, writing articles, translating the Bible, and publishing a monthly journal. Yet, lacking assistance, he himself had to deal with subscriber problems. In this letter we see how he managed to do that - with promptness.