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On Religious Education.
יראת ה' ראשית דעת

"The fear of the Eternal is the beginning of wisdom."

Of all the subjects which, since the establishment of Jewish presses in America and Europe, have engaged the attention of the most able writers of our nation, the most vitally important is the formation of educational establishments for the religious and moral culture of the minds of our offspring. "Train up a child in the path he should pursue, and when he shall become old he will not swerve therefrom." The inimitable advice of the wise King Solomon is earnestly recommended to the serious consideration of the Jews of Philadelphia. The state, like an affectionate parent, provides amply and liberally for the mundane education of all its citizens, rich and poor, without distinction of creed, and thereby qualifies them for the discharge of all duties that may devolve on them as such: but it does not—cannot, consistent with its principles of "liberty of conscience," impart instruction in that most important, most invaluable part—the doctrines of religion. It then behooves us, as the guardians of that inimitable Law, revealed by God himself on Mount Sinai, to provide for our offspring and for the poor of our land the advantages of a religious education. Do we desire more the preservation of the body than the conservation of the soul? Value we more the perishable than the eternal matter? No! then let us prove ourselves Israelites in heart as well as in name—let us no longer delay securing for the issue of our loins such a superstructure of religious education as may render them not alone worthy and good citizens of these liberal States, but worthy and upright Jewish Americans. Teach them to glory in the name of Jew; make them acquainted with the doctrine and correct morality of our Holy Law; point out to them the way in which man may ascend to the attainment of true happiness; instruct them to comprehend the course of life laid down by our pure religion, and strange marriages and proselytism will disappear from among us; the apostate will hide his head, and the soul-hunters be without prey. Again I urge you, ere it be too late, ere the tempter be permitted to temporize with the immortal souls of our youth, to arouse from your apathy, and since ye cannot lead, walk boldly forward in the wake, in the good work of establishing a Jewish school, if only for religious instruction; and your seal once aroused, your active powers may speedily place you in this, as it has in all your other societies and institutions, in the van of these glorious undertakings. Once commenced, I fear not for its success; and the superstructure raised, may it long endure as a monument of the zeal and enterprise of a small body to achieve a great work, and of the generous sacrifices made by Jewish parents to secure an intellectual and a religious culture for their offspring, the poor, and the orphans, whose guardians they are.