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History of Jews' college : November 11th 1855--November 10th 1905 online

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LONDON 1906 (5666).

The History of Jews' College is
an advance publication. The com-
plete Jubilee Volume will be ready
for distribution about the beginning
of July. It will contain, besides the
History, Literary Contributions from
Teachers (past and present) and past
Students of the College, and a list of
Donations to the Jubilee Endowment
Fund. The complete Volume will
contain a Frontispiece designed by
Mr. Solomon J. Solomon, R.A., and
Mr. Frank Emanuel.









46, Great Russell Street,







Founder and First President of Jeivs' College.




In the year 1841 the old Beth Hamedrash of the London
Ashkenazi community was transferred from Booker's Gardens,
Leadenhall Street, to No. I Smith's Buildings, in the same
thoroughfare. It had been founded in the eighteenth cen-
tury, in connection with the City synagogues, as a meeting-
place for the study of the Hebrew Scriptures and Rabbi-
nical Writings. But having failed in its former locality to
realize this object, the Trustees now proposed to remodel
the institution. They recommended "that whilst it should
fulfil its original intention of promoting theological studies,
it should also, in a manner suitable to the spirit of the age,
serve to train up youth for the various offices connected
with the ministration of our religion."

This recommendation embodies the first public movement
for the establishment of a College for the training of Jewish
Ministers. The idea of such an institution was set forth more
fully in the following observations of the Provisional Com-
mittee appointed to carry out the scheme :


It cannot be denied that the Jewish Community are become painfully
alive to the want of competent religious instructors, that many of the rising
generation are but slightly taught the principles of our faith, that they are
athirst for true religious knowledge, and are anxiously desirous that the
means of access to the sources of information and instruction shall be facili-
tated ; it is the object of the Committee to do this, and to do it in a manner
suited to the persons for whom the instruction is intended, and the age and
place in which our lot has been cast.

With this view, they have decided that all religious instruction, whether
Scriptural or Rabbinical, shall be conveyed to the pupils in the English
language, and they earnestly hope that this desire on their part to supply a
great want, by adding a new and required Institution to an improved reestablish-
ment of an old and respected one, will be gladly hailed and energetically
supported by all those who wish that the Jewish religion should be honoured,
its principles truly understood, and the youth of our community be truly
trained up to a correct knowledge of and adherence, to the faith of their

Although some ^1500 was subscribed to carry out these
objects, nothing was done to advance the scheme for the
establishment of a Theological College during the life-time
of the then Chief Rabbi, SOLOMON HERSCHEL. His successor,
Dr. NATHAN MARCUS ADLER, had no sooner entered upon his
office than he revived the idea in a modified form. Having
himself enjoyed the twofold advantage of a profound theolo-
gical training and a modern University career, it became
one of the principal objects of his Rabbinate and the
dearest wish of his heart to call into existence a seminary
that would fulfil both aims. For this purpose he convened
a meeting at the commencement of 1846, at which Mr. ISAAC
COHEN (father of the late Baroness MAYER DE ROTHSCHILD)
had consented to preside. But on the day of the meeting
Mr. COHEN died, and the project had to be postponed.

Meanwhile, the need of such an institution grew in-
creasingly urgent. Anything like a regular Anglo-Jewish pulpit
could not be said to exist in the Metropolis at this period.
The West London Synagogue of British Jews was the only
congregation which enjoyed the ministrations of a weekly

preacher, and the Great Synagogue those of a monthly
preacher. Occasional sermons were delivered in the Portu-
guese, the New, the Hambro, and the Western Synagogues.
The Provinces were somewhat better off. Liverpool had a
regularly appointed preacher in Professor D. M. ISAACS, and
Birmingham in Dr. RAPHALL. The Rev. A. L. GREEN was
preaching at intervals at Bristol, and the Rev. M. B. LEVY
delivered an occasional sermon at Brighton. The few English
preachers who were occupying pulpits in the forties were
either men who had received their training abroad like
Dr. ADLER and Dr. RAPHALL or self-taught geniuses
H. A. HENRY. It should be mentioned that MARKS, HENRY.
GREEN and LEVY had received their education at the Jews'
Free School, from whose Talmud Torah classes many another
well-known Preacher or Reader has graduated, and which must
hence be regarded as the original training-ground of the
Anglo-Jewish ministry.

On the Continent, however, and particularly in Germany
and Austria, the vernacular pulpit was a regular institution.
Such famous homilists as PLESSNER, SACHS, GEIGER, ZUNZ,
AUB were, or had been, delivering weekly sermons as part of
their ordinary ministrations. True, these men had not been
trained at German theological colleges. Holland, France and
Italy were the only countries on the Continent in which
such institutions existed in the early part of the iQth cen-
tury. The "Saadath Bechurim", which had been established
in Amsterdam by Chief Rabbi ARYEH JEHUDAH KALISCH, as
early as 1708, became, in 1834, the "Nederlandsch Israeliet-
isch Seminarium" for the training of Rabbis and teachers.
Ten years earlier the old Talmud Torah at Metz had been
reorganized by royal decree as a Central Rabbinical School.


And in 1827 the "Istituto Rabbinico Lombardo Veneto"
had been established at Padua. The Breslau Seminary did
not come into existence until 1854. But Germany, with its
University and Yeshiba life, and its host of Jewish scholars,
possessed educational advantages for Jews which were alto-
gether wanting in England sixty years ago. The need of an
English training college was therefore strongly felt.

Commenting on this need, as JACOB FRANKLIN in the Voice
of Jacob had more than once done, the Jewish Chronicle, of
January 12, 1849, wrote:

It is obvious that the want of lecturers can only be provided for among
ourselves; we indispensably require an institution to educate men for the
pulpit. Numbers of youths may be selected from our charity schools, who
possess genius and talent which adapt them to that vocation, if their natural
gifts be only cultivated and matured. Numbers of poor teachers, good Hebrew
scholars, but deficient in the vernacular, would be glad to avail themselves
of such an offer ; whilst it would open a field for, and be an inducement
to, theological studies. We do not fear that anyone will accuse us of pre-
judice against foreigners; still we candidly confess that it is, to our view,
rather degrading than elevating the sacred office, that the people are, under
the present circumstances, compelled to seek abroad for those who can serve
them. We are anxious to obtain full emancipation ; and would it not be a dis-
grace if we were told by our Christian opponents that the Jews of England
are so ignorant that they cannot find a lecturer in their community ? The ob-
jection which our proposal will meet with is, no doubt, "Where are the
funds to come from for erecting such an institution"? Our answer is simply,
that every congregation will gladly contribute to the establishment of an
office which will and must ultimately lead, not only to the moral improvement
of the congregation, but likewise to the increase in the Synagogue funds,
there being no doubt that the Synagogue would be better attended, and its
frequenters be more liberal in their offerings, if a soul-stirring lecture appealed
to their hearts and their purses, exhorting the audience to ameliorate their
moral and religious condition, and representing to them the character of
Jewish emancipation in its proper light emancipation of the mind from the
bondage to which ignorance and prejudice have chained them.




At length, after much laborious effort, Dr. ABLER and
those who cooperated with him saw their pious hopes be-
ginning to be realized. On Sunday, January 4, 1852, Sir
MOSES MONTEFIORE presided at a public meeting at Sussex
Hall, convened for the purposes set forth in the following

Office of the Chief-Rabbi.

London, 8th December 5612.
Dear Sir,

The necessity of establishing a College for the training of Jewish Ministers
and Teachers is so obvious and so generally recognized that it will suffice
merely to call attention to the fact that among the numerous clerical offices
of the united congregations in this Empire some are vacant, and only a few
are held by Englishmen. That although our community on the whole is advancing
in culture and intelligence, the dearest interests of ourselves and our children,
our pulpits and our schools, the most precious things on earth, our character,
intellect and souls, are still not seldom entrusted to men of ill-furnished
minds, untutored, or at least unprepared for the performance of their sacred
functions. It is no less generally acknowledged that a public Day School
for the sons of our middle ranks is urgently required, especially in London,
where there are good educational institutions for our poorer brethren, but none
for those of the classes above them. Attendance in the public schools of the
general community subjects our sons to this disadvantage, that they are not
only deprived of one school-day in the week, but are necessarily left unpro-
vided with sound religious instruction. Thus while their minds are necessarily
engrossed by the acquisition of secular knowledge, they for the most part
receive at home but slender and inadequate tuition in the elements of Hebrew
and of our sacred doctrines a knowledge essentially indispensable for
their spiritual good. In the hope of meeting and combining these two great
objects in the most efficient and economical manner, I have prepared a plan,
outlines of which are given in the annexed page. It will be easily perceived
that the College which it is proposed to establish is intended to provide
for day scholars an efficient general education (such, for example, as that
afforded by the City of London School), together with sound religious in-
struction; that its great end is to prepare such pupils of respectability as
may desire to devote themselves to clerical pursuits for their ultimate attend-


ance at the studies of University College, London, with a view to the acqui-
sition of the higher branches of secular knowledge in that Institution, while
they may receive within the walls of the Jews' College the requisite theo-
logical and scholastic education and the necessary preparation for their
future sacred offices. And lastly that its purpose is to embrace at the same
time the objects of the present Beth Hamedrash with its excellent LIBRARY
revenues and the munificent endowment recently bestowed by A. L. MOSES,
Esq. With the view of submitting this plan to your consideration and adop-
tion, and of soliciting your aid and support thereto, I take the liberty of
inviting you to a general meeting which is to be held at Sussex Hall, on the
4th January next, at 12 o'clock, at which Sir MOSES MONTEFIORE, BART.,
will preside. In soliciting your kind attendance thereat, permit me to mention
to those who have sons whom they would be willing to entrust to a day
school of the above important description that I should feel deeply obliged
by their giving me notice thereof within a fortnight from this time. Let me
express, in conclusion, my earnest hope that all who have at heart the
amelioration of the social, intellectual, moral and religious condition of our
brethren all who wish to render their benevolence more certain and
glorious in its results and all who feel anxiously zealous for the preser-
vation of our holy faith, will come forward with heart and hand to promote
the immediate efficiency and permanent stability of this projected national
institution which, under the guidance of Divine Providence, may justly be
expected to yield salutary and blessed fruits to ourselves and our children,
and will shine wiih steady lustre on the Jewish community in this happy

I remain

Dear Sir

Yours faithfully



The College to be established in London for the purpose of affording a
liberal and useful Hebrew and English education to the sons of respectable
parents, and training of Ministers, Readers and Teachers.

Boys between the ages of nine and fifteen years, who can write and read
English and read Hebrew to be admitted as day scholars.

The subjects of instruction to the day pupils to be, in the Hebrew Depart-
ment : Translation of the Prayer Book and Bible, Grammar, Biblical and
post-Biblical History, Religion. An easy commentary on the Pentateuch and
some parts of the Shulchan Aruch. In the Secular Department: English
Grammar, Composition and Literature. Ancient and Modern History, Geo-
graphy, both physical and political, Arithmetic and Book-Keeping, the
elements of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy, the Latin, French and
German Languages.


These subjects to be taught in different classes, five hours daily, Saturdays
and Festivals excepted.

Six pupils elected by the Council especially out of the Jewish public
educational establishments, besides those who obtain free scholarships, to be
placed on the foundation as Clerical Students, who, in addition to the
above-mentioned instruction in the day school, shall gratuitously receive in-
struction in the higher branches of theological and scholastic study at this
College and in the branches of secular knowledge, as Classical literature,
Logic, Elocution, etc., at University College. Such foundation pupils to
produce satisfactory testimonials as to character and physical efficiency, and
certifying that they are natives of the British realms, or that their parents
have resided ten years in this country.

The same to have access to the College Library, due exercise in the public
reading of prayers and expounding the word of God in the Synagogue of
the Beth Hamedrash, and practice in tuition in the day school.

In the event of the resources of the College increasing, such pupils to
enjoy free residence, board and clothing.

A general examination to take place every two years, and a special one
of the Clerical Students before they leave the College, for the purpose of
conferring their diplomas.

The present Beth Hamedrash in Smith's Buildings to be removed to another
locality fitted to all the requirements of a College.

A Head Master, a Second Master, Assistant Masters, and a Librarian to be

The annual expenditure of the College, calculated at One thousand Pounds,
to be provided for by the payments of day pupils, by the present revenues
of the Beth Hamedrash, and by interest on donations, legacies, endowments,
free scholarships and subscriptions.

The charge for each day pupil to be 10 per annum. An individual
endowing the College with 250 to be entitled to have a pupil of his own
nomination gratuitously instructed in the Day School.

A congregation, society, or individual, endowing the College with 1000,
to be entitled to a free scholarship, to have a clerical student of their, his,
or her nomination gratuitously instructed at this and at University College.
In case of their securing to the Institution an annual amount of 30, to
have the advantages as long as the same contribution be continued.

The College to be governed by a Council, consisting of a President, Vice-
President, Treasurer, Secretary, and five Members, in addition to the Chief
Rabbi and the Trustees of the different endowments.

At this meeting there were present the leading members
of the Jewish community, while letters expressing concur-
rence with its objects were read from Baron LIONEL DE

following unanimous resolution, which had been proposed by
Canonbury Place, affirmed the necessity of a Jewish College
and the intention of its promoters to bring such an insti-
tution into existence:

"That in the opinion of this meeting there exists among
the congregations of those countries in which the English
language is the vernacular tongue a desire for the establish-
ment of a College. That with the view to meet such desire
a Jews' College be established in London. That this meeting
approves of the principles embodied in the plan of the
Chief Rabbi which combines three important purposes: the
training of Ministers, Readers and Teachers, the formation
of a well regulated day School, and the objects of the
Beth Hamedrash".

A Council was accordingly nominated "to obtain donations
and subscriptions", and "to adopt such measures as may
seem necessary for the constitution and consolidation of the
Institution". The Council were to consist of the following
gentlemen, in addition to the ex officio members, and with
power to add to their number:


Fh'st I'ice-Pres ulcn t .



That the progress of the new movement was, however,
slow, and that a considerable time elapsed before the pro-
posed College came into existence, may be inferred from
the following paragraph, which appeared in the Jewish Chron-
icle of March 4th, 1853:

A NATIVE MINISTRY. We are rejoiced to be able to record a move in the
right direction of instructing a native ministry. At a meeting of the managers
of the Spanish and Portuguese Orphan School on the 22th ulto., they came
to the resolution that ABRAHAM NIETO, a great-grandson of the late Rabbi
ISAAC NIETO, maintained and educated in the house, now aged 14 years,
shall, from his general good conduct and progress in his education, be in-
structed for the ministry. For this purpose it has been resolved that the lad
be educated in the City of London School for a period of three years,
during the day, and in the evenings at the Medrash (Hebrew College), Syna-
gogue Buildings. During this period the directors undertake to provide their
protege with clothing befitting a young gentleman, general maintenance, and
also with pocket-money. In behalf of the community, we thank the managers
of the above institution for commencing the great work of rearing a native

Yet, in these intervening fourteen months the provisional
Council, with the indefatigable Chief Rabbi at its head, had
been far from idle. Circulars on behalf of the movement had
been addressed to all the congregations of the British Em-
pire, the Rev. A. L. GREEN was appointed Hon. Secretary,
and a code of laws for the government of the College
was elaborated during 1853. It will be remembered that the
institution was to serve the three-fold purpose of a training
college for Jewish ministers and teachers, a day-school, and
a modernized Beth Hamedrash. But the impossibility of
embracing all three objects in a single plan soon manifested
itself. The Beth Hamedrash had to be dropped out of the
scheme. At the same time, the trustees of this institution


agreed to contribute ^gioo a year from their funds towards
the support of the College.



In the engagement of a teaching staff and the search for
suitable premises considerable difficulties presented them-
selves. Ultimately a habitation was found at 10 Finsbury
Square, a fairly commodious private residence, on which a
considerable outlay had to be made in order to adapt it to its
new purpose. Applications for the post of Principal were
invited in both the Anglo-Jewish and Continental press,
with the result that seven candidates came forward. The
election issued in the appointment of the distinguished
orientalist, Dr. LOUIS LOEWE, as the first "Head Master" of
Jews' College.

Dr. LOEWE was born in Ziilz, Prussian Silesia, in the
year 1809, and educated at the Yeshibas of Lissa, Nikols-
burg, and Pressburg, and also at the University of Berlin.
At Hamburg he had, at one time, been entrusted with the
classification of the oriental coins in the Sprewitz collection.
Soon after his arrival in London, he was introduced to the
Duke of Sussex, who appointed him his "orientalist", in
1839. Subsequently he engaged in Oriental travel, and when
in Cairo he was presented to the Khedive, Mohammed Ali
Pasha, for whom he translated hieroglyphic inscriptions.
In Palestine, which he visited, he was robbed of valuable
collections and note-books by marauding Bedouins. Return-
ing home by way of Rome, he there met Sir MOSES and
Lady MONTEFIORE, who invited him to travel with them
to the Holy Land. In 1840 he accompanied Sir MOSES on his
Damascus expedition, in which his knowledge of Oriental


languages proved of immense value; and he joined Sir MOSES
in his other philanthropic missions. His most important
writings included "The Origin of the Egyptian Language"
(1837), "Briefe aus Palestina" (1838), a translation of J. B.
LEVINSOHN'S "Efes Damim" (1841), a translation of DAVID
NlETO's "Matteh Dan" (1842), "Observations on a Unique
Curie Gold Coin" (1849), a Dictionary of the Circassian
Language (1854), and a number of sermons preached in
various synagogues. Dr. LOEWE had been conducting a school
at Brighton, where he had the training of many youths who
subsequently became men of note in the community. Jews'
College was thus fortunate in starting its career with a
Principal of such attainments and experience.

Five masters comprised the rest of the teaching staff. At
the head of the English department was Mr. A. K. ISBISTER,
M. A., who subsequently became a prominent educationist.
He had studied at the universities of Aberdeen and Edin-
burgh, and was rilling the post of second master of the
East Islington Proprietary School when he was called to take
charge of the English department of Jews' College. His schol-
astic attainments may be judged from the numerous school
books which he compiled English, Classical, and Mathema-
tical. He had been connected with the College of Preceptors
since 1857, an ^ m 1872 he became Dean of that body.
Mr. ISBISTER had as his assistant at Jews' College, first Mr.
WRIGHT, and subsequently Dr. O'FEELY, an L. L. D. of the
University of Dublin. Dr. STERN, formerly master of the
Liverpool Endowed School, was appointed Hebrew Assistant
and German master, but his place was soon after taken, and
long retained, by Mr. J. HEINEMANN. The teaching of French
was entrusted to M. DEMAREST, and that of drawing to




Thus equipped, the institution opened its doors with
thirty-three pupils on Sunday, November i r, 1855. The pro-
visional Council had now given place to a more regular body,
of which the Chief Rabbi was ex officio President, Sir MOSES
and HENRY SOLOMON Treasurers, and the Rev. A. L.
GREEN Hon. Secretary, with Mr. LEWIS EMANUEL as

The inaugural ceremony, which was public, and took place
at 10 Finsbury Square, opened with afternoon prayers and
psalms, recited by the Rev. A. L. Green. The Chief Rabbi
then delivered an address an earnest voice from the past
which, as it powerfully sets forth the aims and objects of
the College, may be here reproduced in itsentirety:

Gentlemen. It is my pleasing duty, a duty which fills my heart, and I
am sure your hearts, with gladness, to open, this day, the Jews' College ; an
institution which is so important that it forms a new period in the history
of our community. Allow me to address a few words to you on this occasion.

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Online LibraryEngland) Jews' College (LondonHistory of Jews' college : November 11th 1855--November 10th 1905 → online text (page 1 of 17)