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was always the principal seat of the religious worship of the Jews. There were, nevertheless, in the city, numerous meeting-places, called synagogues, to which the people went to pray, to hear the holy Scriptures read and expounded, and to receive various instructions. In the time of Jesus Christ their number amounted, according to some writers, to four hundred and sixty. At the present day there exists but one, which is considered as the most celebrated of any in the world. I had long wished to see this famous synagogue ; yesterday I found means to gratify my curiosity.

On entering I was struck by the wretched and disgusting appearance of a place of prayer destined to receive so great a number of Jews, who throng thither from all parts of the world. It is a vast wooden edifice if one can give it that name, parted off into several divisions, some of which have no roof, while others are covered. In the centre is a shabby pulpit, in which, during religious ceremonies, is read the book of the law, kept in a chest placed at the farther end, opposite to the door, towards the east. The lamps and the benches, from their shattered state, are in perfect keeping with the deplorable condition of the whole.

The women are separated from the men; they occupy a kind of gallery, which, I must say, looks exactly like a fowl-house, and is quite as dirty as the part appropriated to the men. The young girls are in a sort of room, cut off from all communication with the boys.

No sooner had I set foot in this dismal temple, than an old Jewess, perceiving me, exclaimed : “ Aha! one of our people !"_“ Not exactly so, daughter of Abraham,”



I replied, by no means flattered by the mistake which caused her joy. The other Jewesses fell a-laughing at her blunder : they had perceived that I was a monk.

One thing which surprised me not less than the hideous wretchedness of this synagogue was the dress of the congregation assembled there. All, or nearly all, were attired more decently than I should have expected. How was it that people, so strongly attached to their religion, should bestow such pains on their dress, and not take any to keep in order and adorn a place by them reputed holy, and worthy of their highest respect ? I could not at first comprehend so strange a contrast, but a moment's reflexion enabled me to account for it by the fear which they have of appearing wealthy ; and I could not think their anxiety to conceal their riches very unreasonable in a country ruled by the despotic will of a pacha, who never perceives any thing illegal in extortion and oppression.

I had never been present at the public service of the Jews, and I had no idea how they conducted the performance. Men, women, children, sitting or standing, all pray, rocking their bodies to and fro all the while. This kind of strongly marked undulation is extremely annoying to the eye that is not accustomed to it. I had great difficulty to endure its effect.

I admired their profound respect for the Old Testament. No people entertain a higher veneration for the books that contain the doctrines, the moral laws, and the history of their religion. I felt shame for certain Christians, alas ! too numerous, in whose libraries the sacred Scriptures, frequently from indifference, some



times from a sacrilegious combination, are placed beside an impious or an obscene book. Homer was but a man, and Alexander kept his works in a casket of costly wood, adorned with gold and precious stones. Paying less respect to the works of God himself, than pagans, who have been known to honour the Gospel with their reverence; nay, more shameless than Diderot, the atheist, and the immoral Jean Jaques, who, among their books, always gave to the Bible the place of honour; Catholics, abjuring all modesty, have gloried in making it the butt of scorn and derision, in consigning it to the abuse of the ignorant, of perverse souls, and of corrupted hearts, after having disfigured it by fathering upon it all the turpitudes of their passions and their thoughts. And then that equally frivolous and irreligious age, which saw this horrible infamy broached, which endured, which laughed at it—that age was astonished when it was overtaken by the days of malediction !

In the synagogue at Jerusalem lamps are kept continually burning before the chests containing the Holy Scriptures. These chests are numerous. In them are preserved decalogues of the highest antiquity; there is one that is considered as the oldest of all known copies. Here are also kept great numbers of complete Old Testaments, for the use of the Jews already settled in the city, or for such as throng thither every year.

The Jews resident in Jerusalem are mostly of foreign extraction. Many of them are descended from wealthy parents, who came from the different countries, through which their nation is scattered, to end their days in Palestine. Most of those whom the same motive still



continues to draw thither are rich, and bring with them considerable sums. The Fathers of the Holy Land find among them most serviceable resources, when the usual alms are delayed, as was the case, for instance, at the time of the invasion of the Peninsula by the French. I have no need to remark that their advances are by no means gratuitous: they are paid for at a dear, a very dear rate, it is true ; but, at least, the borrowers contrive with this assistance to escape the rage of tyranny, to save their lives, and in time the charity of Europe comes and enables them to discharge the debt.

These easy circumstances of the Jewish families allow them to dress with more decency, and even with greater elegance, than the other classes of the inhabitants : this circumstance strikes you more particularly on the Saturday. The women, on that day, display a sort of luxury, though, like the Turkish females, they never appear in public otherwise than veiled. For the rest there are no women in Jerusalem who go with their faces uncovered, excepting those of foreign nations who come thither on pilgrimage.

The Jews of this country have been represented by some writers in a light that seems to me absolutely false. It is true that here, as every where else, they retain that characteristic type which distinguishes them from all the people in the world ; that seal, that stamp, which neither time nor climate can efface ; it is true that at Jerusalem the Jew is still a Jew, and there, too, interest is his idol ; he has expatriated himself to come and die there : in order that, after death, he may be laid beneath a few stones in the valley of Jehoshaphat, he has left the

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country in which he was born, his home, his relatives, his friends; with his eyes fixed on the spot where stood the Temple, he deplores its ruin, and sheds floods of tears over the destruction of the holy city and the dispersion of his nation; and, with a heart yet heaved by sighs, with eyes yet dim with tears, he is ready to lend, at exorbitant interest, to him who unfortunately is forced to have recourse to his

purse. But, on the other hand, it must be confessed that the Jews of Jerusalem are in general well educated and not deficient in attainments: they understand several languages; almost all of them speak Spanish and Italian. The school, in their synagogue, though inferior to that which they have at Tiberias, which is the most celebrated of all, is directed by masters who devote themselves with zeal to the instruction of the youth committed to their care. They treat their pupils with the more severity, because they conceive that, in so doing, they are conforming with the precepts of the Bible. When I visited the boys' school, I was struck to see a little urchin, seven or eight years old, tied with a cord, and receiving the bastinado on the soles of the feet. The poor fellow groaned deeply, but without crying, as children generally do. I immediately solicited his pardon, through my dragoman. It was willingly granted by the master. Notwithstanding the severity of the discipline and the incessant studies to which they are kept, all these boys have a cheerful look. The parents, and even the children, have a certain politeness in their manners, which form a singular contrast with those of the inhabitants belonging to other nations.

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