||Rare and unusual bi-lingual Hebrew-English open letter, written on the occasion of the visit of Sir Moses Montefiore to the Holy Land, protesting Sir Moses Montefiore against the charges of unfair manipulation of the gifts sent to the poor in Palestine. The English title states that it is An Open Letter, addressed to Sir Moses Montefiore on his arrival in the holy city of Jerusalem together with a narrative of a forty days sojourn in the holy land, 9 Elul, 5635-September 9, 1875. The lengthier English portion of the book is the open letter followed by the account of the sojourn in the holy land.
Sir Moses Montefiore (1784–1885) was indisputably the most famous Anglo-Jew of the 19th century. Montefiore was born in Leghorn while his parents were on a visit from London, where he was brought up, being taught elementary Hebrew by his maternal uncle Moses Mocatta. First apprenticed to a firm of wholesale grocers and tea merchants, he left to become one of the 12 "Jew brokers" in the City of London. Contrary to accepted opinion, he was apparently somewhat lax in religious observance in earlier life; but from 1827, after his first visit to Erez Israel, until the end of his life, he was a strictly observant Jew. Montefiore maintained his own synagogue on his estate at Ramsgate from 1833 and in later years traveled with his own shohet. His determined opposition checked the growth of the Reform movement in England. He paid seven visits to Erez Israel, the last in 1874. In 1838 his scheme for acquiring land to enable Jews in Erez Israel to become self-supporting through agriculture was frustrated when Mehemet Ali, viceroy of Egypt, who had shown sympathy for the idea, was forced by the great powers to give up his conquests from the Turks. He later attempted to bring industry to the country, introducing a printing press and a textile factory, and inspired the founding of several agricultural colonies. The Yemin Moshe quarter outside the Old City of Jerusalem was due to his endeavors and named after him. In 1855, by the will of Judah Touro, the U.S. philanthropist, he was appointed to administer a bequest of $50,000 for Jews of the Holy Land.
Montefiore was sheriff of London in 1837–38 and was knighted by Queen Victoria on her first visit to the City. He received a baronetcy in 1846 in recognition of his humanitarian efforts on behalf of his fellow Jews. Although president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews from 1835 to 1874 (with only one brief interruption), he did not, after the early years, play a prominent part in the emancipation struggle but devoted himself to helping oppressed Jewries overseas. He has been described as the last of the shtadlanim who by their personal standing with their governments were able to further the cause of Jews elsewhere. He was active as such from the time of the Damascus Affair in 1840. In 1846, he visited Russia to persuade the authorities to alleviate persecution of the Jewish population, and went to Morocco in 1863 and Rumania in 1867 for the same purpose. His intervention in the Mortara Case in 1855, however, proved a failure. Some of his achievements appear in retrospect as transitory. Although in 1872, after representing the Board of Deputies at the bicentenary celebrations of Peter the Great, he reported that a new age had dawned for the Jews of Russia, persecution was renewed in 1881. His 100th birthday was celebrated as a public holiday by Jewish communities the world over.
R. Meyer ben Isaac Auerbach (1815–1878), rabbi of Jerusalem. Auerbach was born in Dobra, central Poland, and served as rabbi of the Polish towns of Kowal, Kolo, and Kalish (Kalisz). In 1860 he migrated to Jerusalem where, at the request of R. Samuel Salant, one of the leading Jerusalem rabbis, he was elected rabbi of the Ashkenazi congregation. He refused to accept a salary, living on the great wealth he had brought with him. "The rabbi of Kalish," as he was usually called in Jerusalem, was noted for his efforts to develop Jewish settlement in Erez Israel and to extend and strengthen the Jewish settlement in Jerusalem. He gave generous aid to various charitable institutions and supported such projects as arranging the affairs of the halukkah, founding the general council of Keneset Yisrael, and the yeshivah Ohel Ya'akov. One of the founders of the Me'ah She'arim quarter, he was a vigilant defender of tradition, and fought vehemently against reformers, especially the supporters of secular education in Jerusalem.
R. Samuel Salant (1816–1909), chief rabbi of Jerusalem and one of the foremost 19th-century rabbis in Jerusalem. Born near Bialystok (Russia, now Poland), R. Salant studied at yeshivot in Vilna, Salant, and Volozhin. He set out for Erez Israel in 1840, but was delayed for a few months in Constantinople, where he first met Sir Moses Montefiore, with whom he established a firm friendship. In 1841 he reached Jerusalem, where the heads of the kolel Lita appointed him rabbi of the Ashkenazi community. A leading figure in Jerusalem, he became Ashkenazi chief rabbi in 1878, holding the position until his death. R. Salant strove to develop the institutions of the Ashkenazi community, which increased from 500 members at his arrival to 30,000 at the time of his death, and succeeded in obtaining for the Ashkenazim the official status previously enjoyed only by the Sephardi community. R. Salant was a founder of the Ez Hayyim Talmud Torah and Yeshivah, the Bikkur Holim Hospital, and the Keneset Israel General Committee, which united all the kolelim under a single administration. He also encouraged the establishment of the Jewish quarters, such as Me'ah She'arim, Keneset Israel, and others, outside the Old City walls. R. Salant lived an exemplary life of the utmost frugality. He was an outstanding posek, distinguishing himself by his power of decision, and showed a definite tendency toward leniency in his decisions.