History of the Jews in Philadelphia

The Jews of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania can trace their history back to Colonial America. Jews have lived there since the arrival of William Penn in 1682.


  • Early history 1
  • Historic Philadelphia synagogues 2
    • Mikveh Israel 2.1
    • Congregation Rodeph Shalom 2.2
    • Temple Keneseth Israel 2.3
    • Philadelphia's lost Egyptian-style synagogues 2.4
  • Signers of non-importation resolutions 3
  • In the War of Independence 4
  • Isaac Leeser 5
  • Maimonides College and Jews' Hospital 6
  • Gratz College 7
  • Literary activity 8
  • Newspapers 9
  • Federation of Jewish Charities 10
  • Jewish Politicians in Philadelphia 11
  • Eastern European Immigration (1881-1924) 12
  • Institutions 13
  • See also 14
  • Bibliography 15
  • Notes 16
  • References 17
  • Further reading 18
  • External links 19

Early history

Jewish traders were operating in southeastern Pennsylvania long before Penn. The first Jewish resident of Philadelphia on record was Jonas Aaron. His name appears in 1703 ("American Historical Register," April, 1895). Isaac Miranda, the first Jew in the English colonies to hold a judicial position, owned property in the town at an early date; he arrived in Philadelphia about 1710 and at once engaged in trade with the Indians. That there were several Jewish families in the city in 1734 as is proved by the fact that the German traveler Von Beck enumerates them among the religious sects of the town. One of the earlier inhabitants was Nathan Levy (1704–53), who applied in 1738 for a plot of ground to be used as a place of burial for his family. He obtained this grant September 25, 1740, and the plot was thenceforth known as the "Jews' burying-ground"; it was the first Jewish cemetery in the city, and was situated in Spruce street near Ninth street; it has been the property of the Congregation Mickvé Israel for more than a century.[1][2]

David Franks, Joseph Marks, and Samson Levy.[3]

Historic Philadelphia synagogues

Mikveh Israel

Congregation Mikveh Israel, the first Jewish congregation in Philadelphia, had its beginnings about 1745 and is believed to have worshiped in a small house in Sterling Alley. In 1761, owing to the influx of Jews from Portugal, Spain and the West Indies, the question of building a synagogue was raised, but nothing was then accomplished in that direction. In 1773, when Bernard Gratz was parnas and Solomon Marache treasurer, a subscription was started "in order to support our holy worship and establish it on a more solid foundation." The number of Jewish residents in Philadelphia was suddenly increased at the outbreak of the American Revolution by the influx of Jewish patriots from New York, which had been captured by the British (Sept., 1776). The congregation removed from the house in Sterling Alley and then occupied quarters in Cherry Alley, between Third and Fourth streets.[4]

The building in Cherry Alley, which had sufficed for the few families in the city, became inadequate, and steps were taken to secure a more commodious building. Haym Salomon, the banker and financial agent of the Continental Congress, agreed to pay one-fourth the cost. A lot was purchased in Cherry street, near Third street, and a suitable building erected.[5] The governor of Pennsylvania and his official family were invited to attend the dedication ceremonies, which were held on September 13, 1782. At this time the congregation had over 100 members;[6] its officers were Jonas Phillips (president), Michael Gratz, Solomon Marache, Solomon Myers Cohen, and Simon Nathan. On November 25, 1783, New York was evacuated by the British, and many of the members of the congregation returned to their former homes. The congregation also started Mikveh Israel Cemetery.[7]

After Congregation Shearith Israel recalled the Rev. Gershom Mendez Seixas to New York, Congregation Mickvé Israel elected the Rev. Jacob Raphael Cohen in his stead. The latter had officiated as Chazzan of the Spanish and Portuguese synagogue in Montreal and had served in a like capacity in New York during the British occupation. He ministered to the Congregation Mickvé Israel until his death in Sept., 1811. As a result of the departure of its members, in 1788 the congregation encountered financial difficulties. A subscription list was started to meet the existing debts, and among those who contributed to it were Benjamin Franklin and David Rittenhouse. From this time on the congregation was ceaseless in its religious and charitable activities, and when Isaac Leeser's incumbency began, in 1829, it was, perhaps, the best-known synagogue in the United States. In 1815 Emanuel Nunes Carvalho was elected minister and continued in that capacity until his death in 1817; he was succeeded in 1824 by Abraham Israel Keys.[8]

Congregation Rodeph Shalom

Congregation Rodeph Shalom was founded in 1795, and is the first Ashkenazic synagogue established in the Western Hemisphere.[9] In the last decade of the 18th century, a small group of Orthodox Jews from Germany, the Netherlands, and Poland formed a minyan to worship in a manner consistent with their shared religious background. At first, services were held in various locations in Olde Philadelphia. In 1866, the congregation built its first sanctuary. Frank Furness, considered the most talented and exciting Philadelphia architect of his time, designed a Moorish-style synagogue on Broad and Mt. Vernon Streets.[10]

The congregation soon outgrew its building and replaced it with the current structure, completed in 1928. Inspired by the great synagogue of Florence, Italy, Rodeph Shalom is one of the few synagogues in this country that retains the Byzantine-Moorish style. It was designed by the firm of Simon and Simon, which built the Fidelity Building on Broad Street.[11] The sanctuary seats 1,640 people below star burst skylights. Its stained glass windows are one of the few remaining collections from the renowned D'Ascenzo Studio. The majestic bronze-and-enamel doors of the Torah ark grace the bimah. The D'Ascenzo Studio also designed the sanctuary's walls, ceiling, and dome, along with the carpet and ornamentation. The Broad Street Foyer houses the Leon J. and Julia S. Obermayer Collection of Jewish ritual art. More than 500 objects of Jewish ceremonial art from around the world dating back to the 18th century are on display. The Philadelphia Jewish Museum gallery, dedicated to Jacob Gutman, sponsors three to four exhibits of contemporary Jewish art each year, and is open for public viewing.[12][13]

Temple Keneseth Israel

The Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel was organized March 21, 1847. Its first rabbi was B. H. Gotthelf, who held services in a hall at No. 528 N. Second street.[14] The Reform movement, which had originated in Germany, soon extended itself to America, and L. Naumberg, Solomon Deutsch, and David Einhorn (1861–66) furthered its progress in this congregation. The first marked change in the character of the liturgy took place in 1856. Samuel Hirsch succeeded to the rabbinate in 1866; he introduced many changes in the service. In 1887 Joseph Krauskopf was elected rabbi; and he has contributed much to the success and standing of this congregation.[15] It was during his incumbency that the Congregation Keneseth Israel became the largest in Philadelphia; it had about 700 members in 1904. Its synagogue is situated in Broad Street, above Columbia avenue. In 1893 Joseph Leonard Levy was elected associate rabbi, but he resigned in 1902 to take up the position of rabbi at Pittsburg. The congregation supports a free public library and a reading-room.[16]

Philadelphia's lost Egyptian-style synagogues

Philadelphia Jews built two of the very small number of synagogues ever constructed in the Egyptian Revival style, the 1824 Cherry Street synagogue, for Congregation Mikveh Israel, and the 1849 Crown Street synagogue, for congregation Beth Israel. Drawings of the buildings survive, although the buildings themselves no longer do.

Signers of non-importation resolutions

In 1765, the famous Non-Importation Resolutions were drawn up, and the names of many Jewish citizens are appended to it; by these resolutions, adopted October 25, 1765, the merchants and other citizens of Philadelphia agreed "not to have any goods shipped from Great Britain until after the repeal of the Stamp Act." The Jewish signers included Benjamin Levy, David Franks, Samson Levy, Hyman Levy, Jr., Mathias Bush, Moses Mordecai, Michael Gratz, and Barnard Gratz. The last two were brothers who had left Upper Silesia in Germany about 1755 and settled in Philadelphia. They and their children became well known in the annals of the city (see Gratz). In 1777, just after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, the following Jews agreed to accept the colonial paper money sanctioned by the king in lieu of gold and silver: Solomon Aaron, Joseph Solomon Kohn, Solomon Marache, Moses Mordecai, Barnard Soliman, and David Franks. Of these, Moses Mordecai and David Franks had signed the Non-Importation Resolutions.

In the War of Independence

The Jews in Philadelphia took a prominent part in the Washington was elected president of the United States the Congregation Mickvé Israel, together with the congregations of New York, Charleston, and Richmond, sent a congratulatory address, to which Washington replied (1790).

Although the majority of the early Jewish residents were of Portuguese or Spanish descent, some among them had emigrated from Germany and Henry Vidaver, Moses Sulzbacher, and Moses Rau. In 1849 Jacob Frankel (1808–87) was elected Chazzan, and about this time the congregation grew in numbers and importance. Frankel acted as chaplain of hospitals during the Civil war. On September 8, 1847, when Naphtali Kahn was Chazzan, the congregation removed to its new building in Julianna street, where it remained until September 9, 1870, when in 1904, the structure at Broad and Mt. Vernon streets was dedicated. Marcus Jastrow, elected in 1866, served the congregation as rabbi until 1892, when he was elected rabbi emeritus (died 1903); during his ministry Rodef Shalom became one of the leading congregations in the United States. In 1892 Henry Berkowitz was elected rabbi.

Data relating to the earlier Jewish charitable organizations are very meager. It is natural to suppose that the Congregation Mickvé Israel, in the absence of any other organization for that purpose, looked after the wants of the poorer Jewish residents. In 1784, there was a society for the relief of destitute strangers, but the records of this organization have disappeared. In October 1813, a Society for the Visitation of the Sick and for Mutual Assistance was organized, with Jacob Cohen as its first president. It existed for over fifty years. In 1819, several ladies organized the still-existing

These facts attest the early activity of the women of Philadelphia in the cause of religion and education. Rebecca Gratz (1781–1869) was, perhaps, the best-known American Jewess of her day. Not only was she one of the organizers of the Hebrew Sunday-School Society, but she was identified with nearly all the charitable organizations in the city. Another woman prominent in the life of the city at this time was Louisa B. Hart, who was untiring in her devotion to the religious education of the young. Others prominently identified with the Hebrew Sunday-School Society were Simha C. Peixotta, Ellen Phillips, and Isabella II. Rosenbach. The attendance at the various schools of the society, of which Mrs. Ephraim Lederer was president, numbered over 3,000 in 1904.

Isaac Leeser

The most virile force in the community when these organizations were founded was

  • Congregation Rodeph Shalom
  • Congregation Mikveh Israel
  • Congregation Keneseth Israel
  • Congregation Shivtei Yeshuron-Ezras Israel

External links

Further reading



  1. ^ www.northjersey.com
  2. ^ www.toacorn.com
  3. ^ www.stljewishlight.com
  4. ^ www.stljewishlight.com
  5. ^ www.almanacnews.com
  6. ^ (see list in Rosenbach's "Jews of Philadelphia," p. 22)
  7. ^ www.vaildaily.com
  8. ^ sdjewishjournal.com
  9. ^ www.lagunabeachindy.com
  10. ^ www.stljewishlight.com
  11. ^ independentpress.com
  12. ^ patch.com
  13. ^ bocanewsnow.com
  14. ^ Sabbath offers serenity in a fast paced world Triblocal.com
  15. ^ ‘Meaningful Life' course offered in Edwards, www.vaildaily.com
  16. ^ Course teaches soul-searching journey, www.mississauga.com
  17. ^ Meaningful life lessons start at Jewish Learning Institute, www.jewishorlando.com
  18. ^ Learning another perspective on Jewish beliefs, www.myjewishlearning.com
  19. ^ [2]www.nj.coml
  20. ^ ancient-marriage-secrets
  21. ^ www.triblocal.com
  22. ^ www.jliteens.com
  23. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places.  
  24. ^ www.toledoblade.com
  25. ^ www.highbeam.com
  26. ^ www.toacorn.com/news
  27. ^ lubavitch.com
  28. ^ jewishinstlouis.org
  29. ^ Mike MacArthur (January 30, 1995). "Medical journal celebrates 175th anniversary". Emory Report 47 (20). 
  31. ^ jewish-learning-institute
  32. ^ eastjefferson
  33. ^  Wilson, James Grant; Fiske, John, eds. (1892). "Hassler, Simon".  
  34. ^ capitalism-socialism-judaism
  35. ^ www.visitvailvalley.com
  36. ^ Jewish-center-to-offer-Art
  37. ^ boulderjewishnews.org
  38. ^ The Presbyterian, Vol. LIX, No. 9, March 2, 1889 (Presbyterian Historical Society).
  39. ^ For a listing of the wholesale clothiers and sweatshops on Bank and Strawberry Streets, see Harry D. Boonin, The Jewish Quarter of Philadelphia (JWT of Philadelphia, Inc., 1999), Appendix B.
  40. ^ The Life of Michael Valentine Ball (1868-1945), Transcribed and Researched by Edward L. Ball (Warren, PA, June 2003), p. 167. (Privately printed).
  41. ^ Rudoph J. Walther, Happenings in Ye Olde Philadelphia (Walther Printing House, Philadelphia, 1925), p. 176, and Dock Street from the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, January 27, 1919, by Penn (William Perrine).
  42. ^ David B. Tierkel, History of the Yiddish Theatre in Philadelphia, unpublished Yiddish typescript, 1934, Yiddisher Visnshaftlikher Institute, YIVO, New York.
  43. ^ http://www.phillyhistory.org/blog/2008/03/the-jewish-quarter-of-philadelphia/
  44. ^ "Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia Offices" (Archive) Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. Retrieved on January 19, 2014. "Jewish Community Services Building 2100 Arch Street Philadelphia, PA 19103 "


  • H. P. Rosenbach, Hist. of the Jews in Philadelphia Prior to 1800, Philadelphia, 1883;
  • H. S. Morais, The Jews of Philadelphia, 1894 (the most complete account);
  • Morris Jastrow, Jr., in Publications Am. Jew. Hist. Soc. No. 1, pp. 49–61;
  • Henry Berkowitz, ib. No. 9, pp. 123–127;
  • A. S. W. Rosenbach, ib. No. 5, pp. 191–198;
  • Watson's Annals;
  • Westcott, History of Philadelphia;
  • Memoirs Hist. Soc. Pennsylvania;
  • The Occident;
  • The Jewish Exponent:
  • American Jewish Year Book, 1901;
  • Fifty Years' Work of the Hebrew Education Society, Report for 1899 (containing many portraits);
  • Archives of the Congregation Mickvé Israel.


See also

The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia (JFGP) has its headquarters in the Jewish Community Services Building in Center City, Philadelphia.[44]


After 1900, Jews moved south across Washington Avenue and within just a few years they lived in great numbers south of Washington Avenue and east of Broad Street. Many Jews in the clothing trade prospered during the 1920s and moved to West Philadelphia and Strawberry Mansion. After Congress cut off immigration from Eastern Europe in 1924, the old Jewish quarter began to die out. Although its demise was slowed, first by the Depression and then by the effects of World War II, outward movement from the quarter accelerated after the war ended. Today, there are four synagogues remaining from the original Jewish quarter. Two buildings built as synagogues—B’nai Abraham, 527 Lombard Street (built in 1910), and B’nai Rueben, 6th & Kater Streets (built in 1905 but used for commercial purposes since 1956) —survive.[43]

Markets were located along S. 2nd Street, the Washington Market along Bainbridge Street from 3rd to 5th Streets and in the 4th Street pushcart market. Sweatshops in the quarter numbered over one hundred. On the 300 block of Lombard Street alone there were five sweatshops.

Central to the new immigrant neighborhood was South Street, called “the great Street for Polish Jews and huckstering of every variety.” Some writers called it the Russian quarter because so many of the newcomers were from the Imperial Russian Empire.[40] In 1887, the Public Ledger wrote: “On South Street many “neat” stores have been built and indications point to the further improvement of that old down-town avenue of retail trade.” Dock Street, the wholesale food market of its day, “is not a handsome street; it is old, full of crude commercial bustle in the hours of the day, and after night fall or in the early hours of the night until the nocturnal preparations for the next day begin, it is almost wholly deserted.”[41] The first Yiddish theatre was in the center of the quarter, located at the corner of 5th and Gaskill Streets. It was here that actors of the Yiddish theatre performed, Jacob Adler and Boris Thomashevsky.[42] In the 1890s, the S. 4th Street vegetable and meat market was started on the sidewalks; it eventually grew into the fabled S. 4th Street pushcart market, still remembered till this day.

When immigrant steamers from Liverpool would arrive, trains of the Pennsylvania Railroad backed down onto the piers of the American Line to whisk away immigrants on their journeys to Chicago and places in the West. A sizeable number of Russian-Jewish immigrants stayed in Philadelphia and settled in the Jewish quarter. Many concentrated around the eastern end of South Street for three primary reasons: rent was inexpensive; housing was near the sweatshops; and the neighborhood was near the Emigrant Depot at the foot of Washington Avenue and the Delaware River. Prior to 1900, few Jews lived south of Washington Avenue. The Jewish Quarter of Philadelphia was bordered by Polish immigrants and Irish to the east, by African-Americans to the west and Italians to the southwest and, to the south, by Irish. Crossing well defined boundaries was dangerous for the immigrants. Curbside and pushcart markets were established; teams of horses flying over cobblestone streets made daily runs to the Dock Street wholesale market. Many Jewish immigrants opened businesses on Dock Street, that continue to operate to the present day including M. Levin & Co, Inc.

In the early years of Eastern European Jewish mass immigration in the 1880s, a sizeable Jewish quarter was established in a well-defined area of old Philadelphia, today known as Society Hill and Queen Village. In The Presbyterian, a weekly journal published in Philadelphia in 1889 for the Presbyterian community, the editor wrote: “In Philadelphia we are likely to have a Jewish section, where emigrants from Eastern Europe will congregate. From Fifth Street to the Delaware River and south of Lombard Street these foreign Jews are crowding in, and being very poor, the Hebrew Charities are drawn upon heavily.”[38] The Jewish press saw a more confined quarter, extending from Spruce Street in the north to Christian Street in the South and from 3rd Street to 6th Street east to west. This was at a time when sweatshops were moving south from Kensington to Northern Liberties and then south of Market Street to Bank and Strawberry Streets. At this time, German-Jewish wholesale clothiers, like Snellenberg’s, had their businesses on N. 3rd Street between Market and Arch streets. Many of these buildings stand today.[39]

Eastern European Immigration (1881-1924)

In 1904, the total population of Philadelphia was about 1,420,000, including about 75,000 Jews.[35][36] Ed Rendell was the first Jewish Mayor of Philadelphia. Mayor Bernard Samuel was born of Jewish parents, but converted to the Episcopalian faith as a young man. Unsuccessful Philadelphia Jewish mayoral candidates include Joseph Sharfsin, who lost to Joseph S. Clark for the 1951 Democratic Mayoral nomination, Arlen Specter, the unsuccessful 1967 Republican nominee against Mayor James H. J. Tate, David Cohen, who withdrew for the Democratic mayoral nomination in 1971 after trailing future mayors Frank L. Rizzo and William J. Green, Sam Katz (Philadelphia), unsuccessful against Frank Rizzo for the Republican mayoral nomination in 1991 and the Republican nominee against Mayor John F. Street in 1999 and 2003, and Martin Weinberg, unsuccessful for the Democratic mayoral nomination against John Street in 1999.[37]

Jewish Politicians in Philadelphia

Members of the Etting family have taken a prominent part in public life from the first. Lewis Charles Levin (1808–60) was thrice elected to the national House of Representatives; Leonard Myers and Henry M. Phillips also were members of the Lower House. In the domain of art the names of Katherine M. Cohen, Herman N. Hyneman, Max Rosenthal, and Albert Rosenthal may be mentioned; and in the field of music, those of Simon Hassler,[33] Mark Hassler, Samuel L. Hermann, Henry Hahn, and Frederick E. Hahn.[34]

The Jews of Philadelphia have been influential in finance as well as in music and the fine arts, and have been identified in every way with the growth of the municipality.

The roll of Jewish officers, Philadelphians, who served with distinction during the Civil war includes the names of Morris J. Asch, Israel Moses, Alfred Mordecai, Jr., Frank Marx Etting, Justus Steinberger, Jonathan Manly Emanuel, Jacob Solis-Cohen, Max Einstein, Aaron Lazarus, Max Friedman, Joseph L. Moss, William Moss, Lyon Levy Emanuel, Isaac M. Abraham, Adolph G. Rosengarten, John Trencher, Joseph G. Rosengarten, and Benjamin J. Levy.[31][32]

Many have achieved distinction in literature, science, and journalism: Michael Heilprin, his son Angelo Heilprin (geologist), Leon Hyneman, Simon A. Stern, Felix Gerson, Henry S. Morais, Milton Goldsmith, Leo S. Rowe, Morris Jastrow, Jr. (librarian of the University of Pennsylvania), Bunford Samuel (librarian of the Ridgway Library), Isaac J. Schwatt, Charles Henry Hart, J. G. Rosengarten.

The most prominent of the early Jewish physicians of Philadelphia was Isaac Hays (1796–1879), who took over editing the American Journal of the Medical Sciences in 1827;[29] among other physicians of distinction are: Jacob de Solis-Cohen, Lewis W. Steinbach, Solomon Solis-Cohen, A. A. Eschner, and David Riesman.[30]

From the earliest times the Jews of Philadelphia have been prominent in the learned professions. As stated above, the first Jew to hold a judicial position was Isaac Miranda (1727). One of the earliest Jewish lawyers was Moses Levy, who was admitted to the bar in 1778. Isaac Franks was prothonotary of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Among other distinguished Jewish lawyers were: Zalegman Phillips, Samson Levy, Joseph Simon Cohen, Jonas Altamont Phillips, Henry M. Phillips, Moses A. Dropsie, Simon Sterne, Stephen S. Remak, Joseph G. Rosengarten, Edward H. Weil, S. M. Hyneman, Jacob Singer (at one time registrar of wills), Ephraim Lederer, D. W. Amram. Mayer Sulzberger is president judge of the court of common pleas.[27][28]

In Philadelphia there were in 1904, not including lodges, over 160 Jewish organizations, of which over 50 are synagogues; the remainder consisting of hospitals, foster homes, Sunday-schools, benevolent associations, colleges, young men's Hebrew associations, social clubs, literary societies, etc. (A list of local organizations was published in the "American Jewish Year Book" for 5661 [1900-1].) The income of the synagogues was about $90,000; the income of the charitable organizations, about $160,000.

[26] In 1882, the great exodus from

In 1901, Lewis Elkin bequeathed $2,000,000 (today $56,700,000) to the city of Philadelphia for the support of superannuated female school-teachers. This is the largest bequest for a charitable object yet made by a Jewish resident of the city. Simon Muhr among other benefactions left a bequest for general educational purposes. The Simon Muhr Work Training School, built in 1899, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.[23]

[22][21] From a period immediately after the Revolutionary war efforts have been made to collect money for the charitable organizations by appealing to the general public.

Federation of Jewish Charities

In 1876, in commemoration of the centennial of American Independence, the Order B'nai B'rith and Israelites of America erected in Fairmount Park a statue representing Religious Liberty. It was designed by Moses Ezekiel, and was the first public monument erected by Jews in the United States.

There are several Jewish social organizations. The Mercantile Club was established November 10, 1853, and incorporated April 17, 1869. Louis Bomeisler was its first president. The club occupies a building in North Broad street; Clarence Wolf was its president in 1904. The Garrick, the Progress, and the Franklin are other Jewish clubs.

The Young Men's Hebrew Association, an outgrowth of a former institution—the Hebrew Association—was organized May 12, 1875, with Mayer Sulzberger as president. The object of the association is "to promote a higher culture among young men"; its membership in 1904 numbered over 1,000, under the presidency of Adolph Eichholz. Its building is situated in North Broad street. The Young Women's Union was originally a branch of the Hebrew Education Society, and was organized through the efforts of Mrs. Fanny Binswanger Hoffman on February 5, 1885; the object of the union is to educate the younger children of immigrant Jews. It maintained a kindergarten, day-nursery, sewing-school, etc. Mrs. Julia Friedberger Eschner was president.

There have been several Jewish newspapers in Philadelphia, of which The Occident was the first; it was founded by Isaac Leeser in 1843, who edited it until his death in 1868; it was edited for one year thereafter by Mayer Sulzberger. The "Jewish Index" was issued in 1872, but it lasted only a year. In 1875 the "Jewish Record" appeared, under the editorship of Alfred T. Jones. The "Jewish Exponent" was first issued April 15, 1887; its present editors are R. Charles Hoffman, Ephraim Lederer, and Felix Gerson. There were several daily papers published in Yiddish, the most important being the "Jewish Evening Post."

Newspapers The earliest publication relating to the Jews was issued in 1763 from the press of Andrew Stewart; it was a sermon by

Literary activity

Many synagogues were founded in the city after 1840, when the Congregation Beth Israel was founded (June 12), the first rabbi being Simon E. Cohen Noot. It now worships in Eighth street, above Master street, and Menahem M. Eichler is the officiating rabbi. The Congregation Beth El Emeth was founded in 1857, and Isaac Leeser, who had left the Congregation Mickvé Israel, became its rabbi, remaining so until his death (1868). This synagogue became influential in the affairs of the community; Joseph Newhouse, Morris Rosenbach, and Alfred T. Jones served at various times as presidents. George Jacobs was elected rabbi in 1869, and remained with the congregation until his death in 1884. The congregation, failing to secure a suitable successor after several attempts, disbanded a few years later. The Congregation Adath Jeshurun, Seventh street and Columbia avenue, was founded in Aug., 1859, S. B. Breidenbach being its first rabbi; Henry Iliowizi held the office from 1888 until 1901 (resigned), when B. C. Ehrenreich was appointed in his stead. Both the Jewish Foster Home and the Jewish Hospital Association have synagogues, that of the latter being the gift of Mrs. Rose Frank, as a memorial to her husband, Henry S. Frank.

Isaac Leeser retired from the Congregation Mickvé Israel in 1850, and was succeeded by Sabato Morais, who exerted a lasting influence upon the Jewish institutions of the city. He was greatly opposed to the Reform movement and was the champion of traditional Judaism. Perhaps the greatest monument of his life is the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, which he founded in 1886. He served the congregation until his death in 1897; Leon H. Elmaleh was the rabbi 1904. The Gratz College, the most liberally endowed institution of Jewish learning in the city, is controlled by a board of trustees elected by the congregation. It was founded under a deed of trust executed by Hyman Gratz in 1856, which became operative in 1893; Moses A. Dropsie was president of the board of trustees. The college had a faculty of three, and 25 students in 1904. The amount of the endowment was nearly $200,000 (today $5,200,000).

Gratz College

In 1855, the ladies of the various congregations of the city, "deeply impressed with the necessity of providing a home for destitute and unprotected children of Jewish parentage," organized the Jewish Foster Home. Its first building was in Eleventh street, near Jefferson street, and was dedicated in May, 1855. Mrs. Anna Allen was its first president. In 1874 the control of the home was transferred to a board of male directors, aided by a ladies' associate board. The home was moved in 1881 to Mill street, Germantown, its present quarters. Isidore Binswanger was president for fifteen years, and during his term of office the home became one of the best institutions of its kind in the country. Mason Hirsh was president for a number of years; Leo Loeb now fills that position, and S. M. Fleischman is superintendent. The Orphans' Guardians, or Familien Waisen Erziehungs Verein, an institution with a mission similar to the foregoing, was organized March 26, 1868, chiefly through the efforts of R. Samuel Hirsch of the Congregation Keneseth Israel. Instead of keeping the children together in one institution, this society endeavors to find homes for them among respectable Jewish families.

The first Jewish hospital in Philadelphia originated in a suggestion of Abraham Sulzberger, who insisted in 1864 that a hospital was an urgent necessity in the community and that steps should be taken at once to secure the funds necessary to establish one. The first officers were Alfred T. Jones (president), Isidore Binswanger (vice-president), Samuel Weil (treasurer), Mayer Sulzberger (secretary), Henry J. Hunt (corresponding secretary). The association was incorporated September 23, 1865. The first site of the hospital was at Fifty-sixth street and Haverford road. Within a decade the needs of the first hospital had outgrown its accommodations, and in 1873, during the presidency of Abraham S. Wolf, it removed to Old York road. In 1901 Meyer Guggenheim presented to the association $80,000 (today $2,270,000) for the purpose of erecting a private auxiliary hospital. Mrs. Sarah Eisner has recently built a Home for Nurses. Among other buildings on the hospital grounds are the Home for Aged and Infirm Israelites, the Loeb Operating Building, the M. A. Loeb Dispensary, and the Lucien Moss Home for Incurables. The Jewish Hospital is one of the best-equipped and best-managed institutions in the United States. William B. Hackenburg succeeded Abraham S. Wolf as president in 1878, and has served in that capacity ever since. To them is due, in a great measure, the success of the hospital. The Jewish Maternity Association was founded November 3, 1873. In addition to the maternity hospital there is a training-school for nurses, of which Mrs. S. Belle Cohn is president.

On December 4, 1864, a meeting was held which resulted in the establishment of the first Jewish theological seminary in America. The need of such an institution was strongly felt, as there were numerous synagogues in the country, but few persons capable of filling the rabbinical office. The seminary was established under the joint auspices of the Hebrew Education Society and the Board of Delegates of American Israelites, and was named "Maimonides College"; it was opened October 28, 1867, with Isaac Leeser as its provost. Abraham Hart was president, and Mayer Sulzberger secretary, of the board of trustees. Moses A. Dropsie and Isidore Binswanger acted successively as president of the college. After an activity extending through six years the work of Maimonides College was discontinued owing to lack of support (Dec., 1873). The work of the Hebrew Education Society had met with great success during the 1880s and 1890s. In 1892 the society received $15,000 (today $394,000) from the estate of Ellen Phillips. Louis Gerstley acted as its president for many years, and David Sulzberger had been its secretary since 1876. It is largely owing to the latter's activity that the society has greatly extended its work to meet the new conditions due to the growth of the population and the Russian immigration.

Maimonides College and Jews' Hospital

[18] The first suggestion toward the establishment of a school for the higher education of Jewish youth came from


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