The Rise of a Levantine Community, 1860s-1930s
2 The Rise of Beirut’s Jewish Community 71
CHAPTER TWO The Rise of Beirut’s Jewish Community In 1879, Sydney Montagu Samuel, a Jewish British author and com- munal worker, journeyed to the Levant to explore the moral and physical condition of the Jews. He recounted the results of this voyage in his book, Jewish Life in the East.1 Samuel’s account of the Jews of Bei- rut begins with his impressions of the journey from Jaffa to Beirut and his arrival in the city. Next, he mentions in passing the existence of a synagogue and comments that many Beiruti Jews are well-to-do and the rich have synagogues in their houses. He then introduces the focal point of his account: “Of educational or other institutions, for the gen- eral poor, there are none, but the well-directed efforts in the cause of education of Mr. Zaki Cohen deserve more than a passing notice.”2 Indeed, the rest of Samuel’s account, some two pages, describes Co- hen’s boarding school—Tiferet Israel (The Glory of Israel). Forty years later, in February 1919, two Jewish emissaries made a similar trip from Palestine to Beirut. Like Sydney Montagu Samuel, they also came to learn about the condition of the local Jews. Unlike the private journey of Samuel, the Zionist Committee in Palestine sent the two men, Ben-Tsion Uziel and Jack Mosseri,3 on this trip. Uziel and Mosseri’s account is slightly longer than that of Samuel, but its content is markedly different. It begins with an itinerary of their visit: In the afternoon we had...
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