Tifereth Israel accepts
See the petition
and the names of the petitioners
Tifereth Israel trustees could have accepted
these 34 applications for membership at a
trustee meeting, they chose to do it at a
meeting of the congregation on Thursday
evening, June 21, 1866. These new members
were relatives, friends and neighbors of
their current members. Many may have
attended the meeting, which for some would
have been a joyful reunion.
Israel, which had been half the size of Anshe
Chesed the year before, was now about equal in size.
With several community founders among its new
members, it was now similar in stature. The June
21st meeting would also have been a celebration.
What caused this unusual shift of
One third of the
members of a congregation moving as a group to another would have been
a story for our local Jewish
newspaper, but this happened more than 20 years
before we had our first newspaper.
With no contemporaneous accounts, we are left to
speculate on why these members of Anshe Chesed
left and joined Tifereth Israel.
Was it initiated by Rev. G.
M. Cohen seeking a position that would let him
apply his musical talents and also reduce his
rabbinic duties as he was not ordained? Were
these men weary of the continued tension between
tradition and modernity
at Anshe Chesed? Were some unsure of the change,
but ready to do it with friends and with men of deep religious
conviction such as Isaac Hoffman, who had been
the first to sign the petition? Some members
had been here for 25 years. Had they
listened to their wives and their adult
American-born children who thought separate seating
of men and women was "old country" and wanted family seating
(which Tifereth Israel had adopted in 1861) and other "American" practices?
Had some Anshe Chesed members seen their married children, with
their grandchildren, join Tifereth Israel? Or
have been in the hope of reuniting a
community whose synagogue had been divided into two congregations, neither one
to hire and retain an ordained and well educated rabbi?