Thursday, February 14, 2013

Scathing Letter by Hirsch Lehren against Moses Montefiore

I just acquired a scarce work, titled ארכיונו של החכם באשי ר׳ חיים אברהם גאגין : לתולדות ״מלחמותיהם״ של אדוקי ירושלים published by דינבורג, בן־ציון in 1929 in Jerusalem. It consists of a collection of letter sent to the Haham Bashi Chaim Avraham Gagin. Included are several letters written Zvi Hirsch Lehren of the leaders of the Jewish Community in Amsterdam and a great supporter of the Old Yishuv in Jerusalem. The letters are a surprising attack on Moses Montefiore on many fronts.

Lehren's main opposition to Montefiore is his support of opening a Modern School in Jerusalem under a man named Levenstein, who Lehren adds for the title of Yemach Shemo. Levenstein wasn't too interested in religion and the Rabbinate in Jerusalem naturally opposed the school. Lehren is frustrated with Montefiore's promises that nothing will be done against the wishes of the Rabbinate of Jerusalem all the while pushing for the opening of the school. Even the great amounts of charity dispensed by Montefiore in his 1839 visit to Jerusalem is taken in bitterly by Lehren who says that very little of the monies donated ever trickled down to the real needy in Jerusalem. He does not spare in his wording either.

I find it fascinating that no one in history who is now remembered led a life without opposition, such is the nature of humanity

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