An imposing ceremony
As first reported in the British Colonist, 3 June 1863, page 3.
“IMPOSING CEREMONY: Laying the Foundation Stone of the Hebrew Synagogue The proceedings in connection with the above event lost none of their interest from the postponement necessarily occasioned by the heavy fall of rain on Monday. The weather yesterday answered the most ardent hopes of all; the sun shone bright, and the previous showers had conferred some benefit by cooling the atmosphere and laying the dust, which would otherwise have proved disagreeable.
Precisely at 2 p.m. the Band of H. M. S. Topaze was met by the Congregation Emanu‐El and Germania Sing Verein opposite their rooms on Yates street; they proceeded to the Star and Garter Hotel where they were joined by the Hebrew Benevolent French Benevolent, and St. Andrew’s Societies, and then marched to the Masonic Hall on Langley street, where they received the members of the Victoria and Vancouver Lodges. The procession then formed two deep in the following order and marched to the spot where the ceremony was to take place on Cormorant street, headed by the Band which played some excellent marches in their usual masterly style.
ORDER OF PROCESSION
The Band of H.M.S. Topaze under their leader Mr. Jarrett.
Marshal of the Day, Mr. A. Hoffman.
The Architect with the plans and Mr. Malowanski, one of the Building Committee.
Officers of Congregation Emanu‐El.
D. Shirpser, President, S. Hoffman, Vice President.
A. Hoffman, Secretary, A. Blackman, Treasurer.
A.J. Brunn, D. Kauffman, I.M. Moritz, Trustees, and the members.
The Hebrew Benevolent Society, H.M. Cohen, Marshal.
The Germania Sing Verein, leader Prof. St. Clair.
The St. Andrew’s Society.
The French Benevolent Society, President, M. Lotbiniere.
The Fraternity of Ancient, and Honorable Order of Freemasons of Victoria and Vancouver Lodge, with their visiting brethren, numbering over seventy members, with their full insignia of office.
The names of the officers of both Lodges, in their perfect order of rank, will appear hereafter.
Each of the Societies was characterized by its peculiar badges – the Masons, in particular, presenting a most imposing appearance. We should, however, state that their numbers were strengthened by the addition of a good many who belonged, as well, to the other Societies present.
The procession extended over several hundred feet of ground, and was followed by a host of citizens. The site of the projected synagogue was reached about 3 o’clock. Two platforms had been erected, and the corner stones were in the slings, ready to be lowered. The fraternity of Masons were placed around the northern corner, while the members of the congregation and the other societies arranged themselves at the southern corner. A large platform with seats had been provided for the accommodation of the ladies, who attended in great force.
Mr. Malowanski then proceeded to read in the Hebrew Tongue the CXXVII Psalm which being concluded, the Germania Sing Verein, led by Mr. St. Clair, chanted some sacred music in a sweet and pleasant manner.
Mr. S. Hoffman, in a few preliminary remarks, stated that he had been chosen by the Congregation Emanu‐El to address them on this occasion. We are assembled here on an occasion which will form an era in the history of the Jews of this island: We are here on an occasion that should make every true religious heart throb with joy and satisfaction. We are here to lay the foundation of the first Synagogue in Her Majesty’s dominions on this side of the Pacific. Should we not rejoice to behold an edifice dedicated to God, in this far Northern clime? Yes; we should rejoice with all our hearts at the erection of either a church, chapel, or temple. Does it, perhaps, matter, with what form or ceremonies we praise our Maker? Are, perchance, the prayers of Catholic or Protestant less acceptable to the Lord than those of the Israelites, or other religious denominations? I believe not. But I do believe that a most essential part in religion exists in the trueness, goodness, and uprightness of every man’s heart.
I am glad both of my assertions manifest themselves so plainly here to‐day. For, as I look around me, I behold adherents to every creed, to witness the erection of another edifice wherein the name of the Almighty will be hallowed and sanctified. I therefore repeat again, we should hail with joy the erection of buildings devoted to prayer. Prayer is the basis of morality, education, and welfare of a great nation. Who would have thought that, in the short space of five years, we should have a temple erected where then the aborigines were the lords of the domain? Who would have dreamt that in this isolated part of the globe, where, ere now, the foot of white men had hardly trod, there should spring up a comparatively large city, studded with magnificent edifies, and inhabited by a large concourse of intelligent people? Who would not have ridiculed the idea that where, ere now, nought but the hunter’s step and wild beasts’ roar ever disturbed the wilderness, should, at this early day, be erected a synagogue by the scattered tribes of Israel? With feelings amounting almost to envy, have we beheld the erection in this city of churches of almost every denomination extant; but what could we, a handful of people, do to gain a similar edifice? It is easy to remember the advent of the first Israelite. Nevertheless, scattered as our race are all over the world, and limited in numbers, as we generally are, compared to our Gentile brethren, I am proud to say, that since we first made our appearance, one by one, we have each and all striven manfully to uphold that religion which has been handed down to us by our forefathers.
My friends and brethren: In the spectacle before us, how many endearing recollections do not crowd themselves upon our memory. It will remind some of us of the land that gave us birth. Early days, when side by side, with good, kind, pious old parents, we walked hand in hand to our temples, there to pay homage to our maker. It will remind us of those happy days when cares and troubles were unknown to our unsophisticated mind. When with gladdened hearts we skipped playfully to our Sabbath schools, there to receive the wholesome and well‐meant doctrines of our venerable teachers. Though our past life may have been a very rugged one – though pangs and dismay may have shot through our hearts – though dismal clouds may often have obscured the rays of our happiness, circumstances may have bid us this to leave relatives, friends, and home behind us to wander forth to a strange land, and there to gain the wherewithal of life; yet, as I behold this scene before me, hope shines more serenely bright, and soft eyed Mercy sheds a glistening tear – a tear of joy and love.
My friends and brethren: These may not be the only thoughts that occupy our attention this day. When we look back into the history of our nation we find there ample room for reflection. I will, however, refrain from entering into details, inasmuch as I fear to tire your patience. I need, however, but mention, that from the time of our deliverance from slavery in Egypt, the Jews have successively, under the iron rod of the Romans, Greeks – in fact all other formidable nations, been trampled upon and coerced. Through the dark ages, how poignant and deep their sorrows! A poor, forsaken, scattered and persecuted race. Even in modern ages, the time had not long passed by when their rights were denied to them, and they had to submit meekly to the scores, scoffs and contumelies of their fellow creatures. But how different is it now! The rays of justice and rue feelings of humanity have at last entered into the benighted and bigoted souls of our persecutors. Our chains are thrown aside – our rights restored – and in almost every country we enjoy with our fellow citizens the same rights, the same blessings, and the same laws. Religious liberty – the doctrine inculcated by the Almighty Himself – is spreading its benign influence over every land on the face of the globe, and the Hews of to‐day, I am proud to say, stand second to no other sect.
My friends: I did not intend occupying much of our time. Before I conclude there is, however, one essential thing which I would most particularly impress upon the minds of my fellow‐members: it is the good doctrine if union and harmony. If peace and harmony be your guiding star, let it be the motto inscribed in the heart of every member of this organization, and God will shower His blessings upon you. King David with all his glory, with all his greatness and might, was forbidden, by prophecy, to build a temple, because of his numerous wars and struggles with other nations, and the prophecy was left to the fulfilled by his son Solomon. As this stone which we are about to lay will be the foundation upon which this structure will rest, so let peace and harmony be the foundation stone of your hearts, without which your structure will crumble into dust, your cherished hopes and disappointed, your plans frustrated.
In conclusion, I would fervently pray to God that he may support us in our undertakings – that he may infuse a feeling of peace and harmony in the hearts of my brethren, and that this temple may become a bright gem among the glorious constellation of churches in this our adopted country.
We regret we have not space to give the remainder of the speeches in full. – [REP.] Mr. J.P.
Davies followed and spoke with fervency and fluency. He concluded his remarks by pointing out the good objects of the various societies and thanking them for their attendance there. In addressing himself to the fraternity of Masons, he observed that it was not 2675 years since the Temple of Solomon was built and the present was the first instance since then of the ancient order of Masons or any other fraternity taking part in laying the foundation stone of a Jewish edifice.
Dr. Boscowitz gave a most spirited and eloquent address in the German language. When the various speeches were ended the following formula were observed:
List of subscribers to lot – deposited by A. Simson. Constitution of Chebra Bikur Cholim Ukedusha –by John Malowanski.
List of members of German Sing Verein and French Benevolent Society – by Mr. Koshland.
The Constitution of the Congregation, together with the BRITISH COLONIST, of yesterday, and its contemporaries and coins – by Mr. D. Shirpser.
List of subscribers to the Synagogue and its officers and members – by Mr. Vaenberg.
The Stone was thereupon laid in duo form by Mr. Malowanski; the Sing Verein rendering the magnificent sacred melody, ‘This is the day of our Lord ,” with fine effect.
After the conclusion of the Hebrew ceremonies the principal architect addressed the Worshipful Master, saying – “Right Worshipful Master; with the blessing of Almighty God we desire to erect a building here to the honor and glory of His Holy name. Plans have been prepared which I submit for your approval and on behalf of the Congregation Emanu El request that you will be pleased to lay the corner stone.
The R. W. M. replied to the following purport: Brother Principal Architect – On behalf of the Ancient and Honorable Fraternity of Freemasons in Victoria, I beg to express the honor we feel in being invited to take part in any ceremony having a holy useful, or benevolent design and more particularly in aiding in the erection of a Temple to be dedicated to the glory of God and His Holy name. I shall have much pleasure in laying the corner stone of this Temple with all the ancient honors of the order.
The Germania Sing Verein then sung an ode and the Band played “Hail Masonry.” After this the Chaplain delivered a prayer in the form usually observed on similar occasions.
The R.W.M. then called upon the Principal Architect to deposit the scroll and by‐laws of the Lodges in the stone, which was accordingly done, and a copy of the scroll read by the Principal Architect, which was as follows:
RECORD DEPOSITED IN AN HERMETICALLY SEALED BOTTLE, AND DEPOSITED IN THE STONE.
The corner stone of this edifice was laid in due form on the second day of June, A. L. 5863, A.D.1863, by the two Masonic Lodges in the city of Victoria, Vancouver Island, viz.:Victoria Lodge, No. 1085, held under the United Grand Lodge of England, of which Thomas Dundas, Earl of Zetland, is Grand Master; and Vancouver Lodge, No. 421, held under the Grand Lodge of Scotland, of which the Duke of Athol is Grand Master.
The names of the officers and members of each Lodge will be found in a copy of the By‐laws, The Lodges having met, formed themselves, into one Lodge, and the following officers performed the labors of the day:
Robert Burnaby, R.W.M.; J.W. Powell, R. W.D.M.; J.J. Southgate, R.W.S.W.; H. Aguiler, R.W.J.W.; George Cruikshank, Treasurer; Wm. Henry Thain, Secretary; Richard Lewis, Principal Architect; Hon. Judge Cameron, Bible Bearer; Rev. Richard L. Lowe, Chaplain; Thomas Harris, S.D.; Samuel Goldstone, J.D.; James Curtis, J.G.; James A. McCrea, S.B. Bearers of the Lesser Lights – Brothers N.J. Newstead, H.F. Heisterman, and T.G. Williams. Bearers of the Working Tools – Brothers Morris Myer, Kady Kambitz, and Moses Sporborg. Bearers of the Ashes – Brothers A.G. Main and Walter Edwards. Stewards – Brothers M.A. Waitt, L. Franklin, E. Marks, G. Webster. O. Guard – George Creighton.D. Ceremonies – Louis J. Shepard.Marshal – John P. Couch.
The cement was spread, and the Stone lowered, in three drops, the Band playing during the interval. The proper tools were then applied to the stone by the Senior and Junior Wardens, and the Deputy Pest‐Masters, under the direction of the Architect. After which the Right Worshipful Master put the usual questions to the officers. If the Stone was “plumb” “level” and “square”. Upon receiving a reply in the affirmative, he said: “Nothing then remains for me bit to set the Stone” – on which three wraps were given on the Stone with the “gavel”, and he then said:
“May this Building be conducted, and carried on successfully until its completion, according to the plans, in peace, harmony, and brotherly love.”
The Band, hereupon, played the National anthem, in which the Sing Verein joined.
The Corn of nourishment, Wine of refreshment, and Oil of joy, in succession were passed to the R.W.M., who poured the same upon the stone.
Grand honors being accorded to each in the usual form.
The R.W.M., delivering the exhortation in the form prescribed by the Masonic Ritual.
An Ode was then sung by the Sing Verein, after which a prayer was read by the Chaplain, and sacred music performed by the band concluded the ceremonies.
Mr. K. Gambitz hereupon stepped forward, and in a few pertinent remarks presented the neat little silver Trowel used in laying the stone to the R.W.M., on behalf of the congregation Emanu‐El. The R.W.M..R. Burnaby, Esq., accepted the presentation in a few well delivered and appropriate remarks.
The Trowel which was manufactured by Mr. E. Watson of this city, bore the following inscription: ‐
“Presented by the Congregation Emanu‐El, of Victoria Lodge 1085, F. & A.M., at the laying of the Corner Stone of their Synagogue, June 1st, 5623 (1863).”
The Band again struck up the National Anthem; and at its termination the procession reformed, and returned to town, where the various societies were escorted to their respective assembly rooms by the members of the congregation.
The greatest decorum was observed by the spectators throughout the entire proceedings, and not a single incident occurred to mar the harmony which prevailed.
Thus terminated an eventful day in the history of the Jews in Vancouver Island, and it must be a source of infinite gratification to that body, that the ceremonies of this day, partaking as they did of a purely denominational character, were participated in by all classes of our community with a hearty goodwill and brotherly feeling, evidenced in acts more powerful than words the high esteem in which they were held by their fellow townsmen of the City of Victoria.”