September 1899 in the Exponent: Holiday Leads to Packed Synagogues

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Prominent New Year’s Sermons Detailed

Rosh Hashanah fell early in 1899, and the Sept. 8 issue of the Jewish Exponent that year included extensive holiday coverage.

A front-page article — which spelled the holiday without the final “h,” as in Rosh Hashana — included a second headline reading, “Impressive Services at the Synagogues.”

“The early date of the fall holy days had brought the summer wanderers back to their city homes with a rush, and there were but few absentees at the services for ushering in the New Year, 5660,” according to the uncredited author or, more likely, authors.

The article noted that several synagogues had been renovated over the summer and pointed out a few interesting locations for services, including Touro Hall (home to the Hebrew Education Society) at 10th and Carpenter streets, and the Old Mercantile Hall on Franklin Street.

Beyond that, the article provides extensive details about the sermons themselves.

For example, at Adath Jeshurun, Rev. Dr. H. Iliowizi’s sermon was titled “The Hand that Writes on the Wall,” while at Beth Israel Synagogue, Rabbi Eichler spoke about “The Three-Fold Significance of the Day.”

In addition, the top of the page featured a poem titled “Echoes of Rosh Hashana” by Mabel Lyon.

Some other notes of interest from the 1899 issue:

  • A yearly subscription cost $3, while single copies cost 7 cents.
  • A half-dozen advertisements covered the left two columns on the front page. Four were for bankers/brokers, one was for diamond merchants hawking cut glass for wedding gifts, and the other was for a store called Dougherty’s, which was selling metal bedsteads “approved by the most eminent scientific authorities.”
  • Page 6 included an ad for a French wonder drug called Polynice Oil, which claimed to cure rheumatism, lumbago, neuralgia and dyspepsia. The ad said the drug had been successfully used at Howard Hospital, a West Philadelphia institution that merged with Graduate Hospital in 1929, according to University of Pennsylvania archives.

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