SHORSHEI EMUNAH. ELEMENTS OF FAITH FOR THE USE OF JEWISH YOUTH OF BOTH SEXES
London: E. Justins, 1815. Paperback. Item #41356
5575 (1815) 1st edition. Later Paper Wrappers, 8vo, 10, 10, 2, 2, 56, 56, , 6 pages [143 pages total]. Includes the often missing 6-page list of subscribers. The Introduction states that the book was undertaken at the behest of the Rabbi of the Aschkenazic community of London, Solomon Hirschell, together with Raphael di Meldola, Rabbi of the Sephardic community. It also includes the approbation of di Meldola as well as that of Rabbi Solomon ben Zevi Hirsch, the purpose of the work being to protect Jewish children from the inroads of Christian missionaries.The author indicates that the lack of understanding of Judaism among youth is the principle reason why he composed this work. Yet it was intended not just for Jews: Prof. David Ruderman has noted that, "except for its denunciation of Christian missionaries, Cohen's catechism with its English translation, seems to be nothing more than an innocent, uncontroversial presentation of the Jewish faith meant for both Jewish and Christian eyes" (D. B. Ruderman, Jewish Enlightenment in an English Key: Anglo-Jewry's Construction of Modern Jewish Thought, p. 250). Cohen's work was indeed shared with American non-Jews. The Jewish merchant David Isaacs, in his correspondence with Thomas Jefferson, sent the President a copy of the book [see University of Virginia exhibit (2001), To Seek the Peace of the City: Early Jewish Settlement in Charlottesville]. In 1818 Rebecca Gratz offered a copy to her friend Maria Fenno Hoffman, wife of the Attorney General of New York, Ogden Hoffman [see E. Wolf & M. Whiteman, The History of the Jews of Philadelphia, p. 304]. Jacob Marcus Rader lists Cohen's work as one of the Jewish educational books available to Rebecca Gratz when she began operating her Sunday School in Philadelphia [see United States Jewry, 1776-1985, 1-2, p. 393]. A review of this book was printed by Rabbi Yom Tov Benet in his book Tene Bekorim (1767). Shalom ben Jacob Cohen (1772–1845) himself was a Hebrew writer, poet, and editor. Born in Mezhirech, Poland, he studied German and read the new Hebrew literature, particularly Ha-Me'assef. His first book, Mishlei Agur (1799), was a collection of Hebrew fables in rhyme, with German translation, aimed at teaching Jewish children simple and clear Hebrew. Cohen went to Berlin in 1789 and taught in the Hinnukh Ne'arim school and in private homes. After the publication of several works he renewed the publication of Ha-Me'assef and served as its editor (1809–11). In 1813 Cohen left Germany, spent a short period in Amsterdam, and moved to London where he tried unsuccessfully to establish a Jewish school. From London, Cohen moved to Hamburg (1816 or 1817), where he spent three controversy-laden years. In a posthumously published poem he attacked the hypocrisy of the "reformists" for their lack of religious belief and national feelings and considered the establishment of the Reform temple in Hamburg an act of blasphemy. However, he refrained from public intervention on this controversy. In 1820 Cohen was invited by Anton Schmid to serve as head proofreader in the Hebrew section of his printing press in Vienna where he remained for 16 years. In 1821 Cohen established the annual Bikkurei ha-Ittim, three issues of which appeared under his editorship. In 1834 he published his poetic work, Nir David, a description of the life of King David, one of the first romantic works in Hebrew literature. In 1836 Cohen returned to Hamburg, where he lived until his death. His last extensive work was Kore ha-Dorot, a history of the Jewish people (1838). His other works include: Matta’ei Kedem al Admat Zafon (1807), poetry; Amal ve-Tirzah (1812), an allegorical and utopian drama, a sequel to M.H. Luzzatto's La-Yesharim Tehillah; and Ketav Yosher (1820), a literary miscellany. Roth, Magna Bibliotheca Anglo-Judaica, p. 428, no. 2. Vinograd London 205. Roest 283. BE shin 2421; EJ; CD-EPI 0140837. SUBJECT(S): Judaism -- Juvenile literature. Juvenile works. OCLC: 44005964. OCLC lists 17 copies worldwide, High quality 18th Century paper and internal binding are in exceptionally good condition a very nice copy. (BR-4-2-B-’xr).