89 127 LEESER, ISAAC. Letter to Gotthard Dellman Bernheim, copied in the hand of Solomon Nunes Carvalho. Text in English. Leeser refutes the charge by Bernheim, a minister, that Menachem Emanuel Marcuson, a promising rabbi fairly new to the American scene, had ever converted to Christianity or agreed to become a missionary. Leeser warns Bernheim that if it comes to it, he will win in the court of public opinion through publication of this in the Occident, and that he is unflinching concerning such matters. One page. 27th December, 5613-(1852.) $1000 - $1500 ❧ Christian missionary activity was one of the problems that American Jewish religious leadership faced in the 19th century. To the missionaries every convert counted, but all the more so when the convert was a rabbi. The misleadingly titled Jewish Chronicle, printed a notice that “Rabbi Markeson [sic] presided over a Jewish congregation in Montgomery… the Rabbi has publicly and boldly professed Christianity. It was done under circumstances exceedingly trying.” (The Jewish Chronicle (9:2) August 1852, p. 30). Marcuson, a recent immigrant from Bohemia who served as hazzan and shochet in Montgomery, AL, had been hired by the newly formed congregation Shaar Hashamayim in Pittsburgh, when this accusation arose. Marcuson apparently had conversations with missionaries on religious topics but he steadfastly denied he had agreed to be baptized. Marcuson’s congregants believed him and they and he met and corresponded with Leeser (in Yiddish) who was satisfied he was telling the truth. Leeser’s good opinion of Marcuson is apparent in a brief notice in The Occident a decade after these events: “Mr. M[arcuson] is certainly one of the first (leading) Talmudists in the country…we hope…that he may succeed in accomplishing much good for the cause of Israel” (The Occident (21:40) April, 1863). 128 GROUP OF EIGHT Autograph Letters Signed, all written to ISAAC LEESER, on religious and educational themes, also conversions and mikvah. Texts in English and Hebrew. V.p, 1848-66. $3000 - $5000 ❧ Includes: * Jacob Rodrigues Peynado (d. 1877) of Hackney, London, a contributor to The Occident, who opines that parents and teachers make an error in forbidding children to read the New Testament. The result is they grow up knowing nothing of “the contradictions & absurdities it contains,” leaving Jews scarcely prepared to defend their faith or answer questions from Christians. Peynado advocates that the New Testament be taught by Jews with guidance. * H. VanBeil, a congregant of Leeser’s, who has questions concerning the After-life. He wishes to be better informed in order to be equipped to respond to others. VanBeil tells Leeser he prefers to have an answer in writing rather than to discuss the matter in person. * S. Solis. Regarding the shipment of “Citrons and Lulabs.” * Judah Middleman. Written entirely in Hebrew, inquiring of Leeser whether the Adams Express had delivered two “Bitelen” (bottles?). * David(?) Carvalho writes concerning Festival prayer-books ordered from Leeser. Lot 128