Report of Rabbi Leopold Kleeberg's Passover Sermon on the 15th Amendment

Report of Rabbi Leopold Kleeberg's Passover Sermon on the 15th Amendment


The Daily Republican, Charleston, S.C. April 29, 1870
“The Jewish Passover and the Fifteenth Amendment-Historical Parallels”
The occasion of the jubilee of our newly enfranchised citizens was seized upon by an eminent Jewish Rabbi, Rev. Dr. L[eopold] Kleeberg, of Louisville, Ky., and lately made the subject of two eloquent sermons. He said that passing events were but repetitions of scenes through which the children of Israel had already passed; that history had pointed out its warning, long unheeded, and finally only enforced with a plague of blood; that Jews, of whatever political affinity, must bow down with cheerful submission to the inevitable logic of the hour, and throw no barrier in the way of the elevation of the fallen. It would be of no use for the Hebrew people to celebrate the approaching festival of the Passover by ceremony unless they were willing practically to agree to join heart and soul in the jubilee that sang hallelujahs at the great American breaking of shackles.

The eating of unleavened bread without this would be idle, the typical Paschal Lamb, the bitter herb, the saline draught, and the bricks without straw, were all only put upon the Seder table to bring to mind the Egyptian bondage and to lead the participants to dwell with humility on the wondrous deliverance of their ancestors from the burdens of their taskmasters. In our day history repeated itself, and the granting of rights, long unjustly withheld, to a large number of human beings, was an event that rose far above a political question, far beyond the schemings or counterplots of adventurers or factionists; it was a moral offering on the alter of humanity-acceptable alike to man and God. By such acknowledgements individuals and nations become elevated, purified, and the mission of man to his fellow was fulfilled.

It would be astonishing, then, if the heart of every Jew did not beat with joy and pleasure when he saw the chains fall that had fettered the limbs of his fellow man; if they did not rejoice they were untrue to their tradition and history, and unworthy of their position by the side of freemen. The eloquent remarks of the preacher attracted considerable attention, and did not escape criticism, as he had quite a number of Southerners among his audience, who are not yet quite awake to the living issue; but as his remarks were purely historical, and had special reference to the holiday, all had to acknowledge the pertinency of the discourse. It is worthy of record, too, that this was in the chief city of Kentucky.

External References

Library of Congress Guide to the 15th Amendment

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