Aug. 1901 Preface to History of Congregation at Laying of Cornerstone

This speech is difficult to read.  It borders on in the incoherent even without the author’s characteristic run-ons and lack of punctuation.  Lots of beautiful ideas are raised, but seem to go nowhere.  

I believe that it was originally delivered by I. Grossman in Yiddish, and this part was translated into English for future use.  The speech that I think is the Yiddish version is in the process of being translated.  I hope to find that it is more eloquent (or at least sensible) in the original, as Grossman expressed himself clearly in every other speech we have of his. 

In the name of the Lord the God of Israel
Homestead Aug. 18th 1901

כי תבנה בית חדש When a man builds a house1, this is a person, an individual, and with us Jewish people it usually happens, they came from foreign lands in poverty and misery, naked, and barefooted, and in many cases they are driven out by tyrannical rulers from their old homes, and finally arrive in this land of the free, and with the help of God they have prospered, and thru their industry and usefulness; to the extent that they can build a home for themselves, it becomes their duty, to pause, and meditate about their past and draw a lesson, and moral, about the happenings of their past lives, and remedy the errors, or transgressions they have previously committed; and try to avoid the pitfalls which are always staring before their eyes.

If this is the duty of an individual, from whom it is said ובלילה היה ובלילה אבד “Born in the morning and dieth in the evening”2 and is very shortly forgotten and even his name is obliterated from the memory of mankind, and yet he is to pause and reflect about his past. So much more, a Congregation of many people who emigrated from all corners of the globe, and settled in one community, when they build a house, a House of worship until allmighty God, it becomes for them a double duty, to review their past. For all wisdom all glory, all glamour and all pomp passes away, disappears in the storm of time, perish in the stream of life. The House of God, and the Law of God remains, and lives on, even if the heavens vanish, and the sun ceases to shine. The light of the Torah will shine, in spite of all scoffers and disbelievers.

Vanity and glamour will disappear into darkness and night, and the Torah and the teaching of the Torah will shine in all its glory in all eternity.

My friends with help of God this house will be a house of study, a house of meditation, a House of God, for the Hstd Jewish community, a house of worship wherein nothing, but prayers, and the words of the Torah are to be heard. A House whose foundation stands on truth and eery stone is hallowed with the words Hear O Israel, the Lord our God the lord is one. And all these who enter this building are like unto “a Tree who is planted at the shore of a stream, and which yield luscious fruit, and his leave do not wither.”

Therefore let us perform our duty, and review our past, write a History about the origin of our Cong. and may this, serve us, and future generations as a history about the existence of the Cong. and may we from the past learn Wisdom and culture, so that we may build up the Rodef Sholom Cong. to a sample of the Jewish faith, where Torah is studied, where Torah is loved, and Torah is obeyed, for Tora is the only Tree of life for these who walk on its road, and may the Cong deserve the right to be named Rodef Sholom follow Peace that its object shall be

אוהב שלום רודף שלום אוהב את הברייות ומקרבן לתורה

Love peace, Follow peace, love thy fellow men, and lead him on a path of Torah3

Preface to history of Cong at cornerstone laying – 1901


  1.  Deuteronomy 22:8, a verse from that week’s Torah portion (see this article for an explanation)  

  2. A loose quote (and looser translation) from Jonah 4:10, בן לילה היה ובן לילה אבד, “came up in a night, and perished in a night.” (Thanks to Meir Schechter for the identification!)  

  3.  Pirkei Avot, Chapter 1:12  

  4. Yes, it says “example” at the bottom of the second page, which is why I think the original Yiddish version was translated as an example to draw from in future speeches.  

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