Philadelphia: Isaac Leeser-C. Sherman, Printer, 1843-1869. Item #42564
1st edition. Mixed period half leather (most) or modern cloth (5 volumes); single issue is in original canary yellow wrappers. An almost complete monthly run of Isaac Leeser’s Occident, the first widely circulated Jewish periodical in America and an unmatched source for details of mid-19 Century American Jewish life and thought. Rosenbach 541; Goldman, no. 1192.
First established in 1843 by prominent Philadelphia Rabbi, scholar, and publisher Isaac Leeser (1806-1868), this monthly magazine dealt with topics of Jewish religion, philosophy, culture, history and literature, and included sermons, obituaries, juvenile literature, scholarly research, theology, spiritual poetry, domestic and foreign news of Jewish interest, resolutions adopted by congregations and organizations, book reviews and correspondence.It is considered the first widely circulated Jewish periodical in the United States. The publication ran until Leeser's death in 1868, with Leeser serving as editor, publisher and contributor. A final volume was published under the editorship of Leeser’s assistant, Judge Mayer Sulzberger. See L.J. Sussman, “Isaac Leeser and the Making of American Judaism” (1995), pages 136-150.
During the mid-19th century IsaacLeeser was the most prominent leader of American Orthodox Judaism, and his writings show a defense of traditional Judaism against the changes in doctrine proposed by the growing Reform movement. Starting with Jewish publications in the 1830s, Leeser is considered to have laid the foundation for a consistent Jewish printing industry in America. “Practically every form of Jewish activity which supports American Jewish life today was either established or envisaged by this one man. The most lasting testament to Leeser’s energy and hopes can be found in the pages of his journal The Occident which arguably contain the single most important historical record of Jewish life in the Western Hemisphere in the mid-19th century. Through the agency of The Occident, Leeser hoped to bring together in one common forum the many American Jewish communities that were otherwise divided, by either geography or ideology” [Bertram W. Korn, “Isaac Leeser: Centennial Reflections,” in American Jewish Archives, Vol. XIX (1967), page 136].The Occident is considered one of the most important historical sources in understanding American-Jewish culture in the mid-19th century. A complete set of the 24 monthly volumes sold at auction in 2015 for over $153,000 (with buyer’s commission)
Most volumes are Ex-library, most in period full or half leather (5 are in modern cloth). Occasionally foxed, few volumes shaken, several with signature of Joseph Newhouse. Title for volume 2 erroneously bound into volume 6; two index pages of volume 12 are frayed, volume 6 lacking final few pages. About Very Good Condition overall.