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THE JEWISH ADVOCATE.
THE HOSPITAL AT JERUSALEM.
(With an Engraving.) THE state of the Jews in Jerusalem is painful in the extreme, owing to their deep poverty. The great mass of them are poor, and therefore they are unable to help each other, as they can and do in other lands; they have no trade, and depend for their subsistence chiefly on alms, collected amongst their brethren in different parts of the world. They dwell in dark crowded habitations, the victims, oftentimes, of disease and want. The Society sent out a Medical Missionary in 1838, Mr. Gerstmạnn, in order to visit and relieve these suffering descendants of Abraham, and in the hope that by such proof of Christian love, access might the more readily be obtained to their hearts. Mr. Gerstmann was himself a Jew, and most anxious to devote his life to the spiritual and bodily welfare of his brethren. Coming thus with works and words of love, he found a wide and effectual door open for his reception. An excommunication which had been pronounced by the rabbies on those who should hold communication with the missionaries was disregarded, and the messenger of mercy was gladly welcomed to the abodes of poverty and disease.
Soon after Mr. Gerstmann's arrival, the Rev. John Nicolayson wrote thus to the Rev. Dr. M*Caul :
“Mr. G. has made such discoveries of appalling destitution and misery among the poorer classes of the Jews (those who most need his assistance,) as threaten to render his medical aid almost unavailable to them. He made such affecting representations on this subject as induced me, the other day, to visit with him about a dozen of his poorer patients (and these not the very worst off, he says), and such was the effect produced by witnessing the absolute destitution and extreme misery of these poor descendants of Abraham, that I immediately determined to give Mr. G. every possible encouragement and assistance to obtain the means of alleviating this extreme wretchedness, at least so far as to secure a reasonable prospect of his medical labours among them not being altogether defeated, by appealing to the charity and sense of duty of happier and more privileged Christians at home. Our plan is to form something that may grow into a hospital. For this purpose, we need one who will become the advocate of Jewish misery in happy England, present the claims of Abraham's descendants in Jerusalem, for temporal relief, to Christians enriched with their forfeited privileges, collect their charities, remit them to us, correspond with us on the subject, and make known the results. Such (as said) you either must become yourself, or find an equally suitable substitute. We can take no refusal, and offer
you no other alternative. Yet be not alarmed at the name “ Hospital.” We are not going to erect a palace, like the hospitals in London. Our idea is this-If we receive one pound only, we will spend
this in procuring a little broth, and other such necessaries, for those poor Jews and Jewesses who are recovering, and for want of it must relapse into more hopeless misery and suffering. If we receive 51., or 101., or 151., we will do the same on a proportionably extended scale. If we receive 201. or more (as we certainly trust the time will come when we shall,) we can then take a clean and airy room, and receive the most destitute and helpless into it. One great cause of the shocking diseases and accumulated wretchedness
Jews here, is the manner in which they crowd and herd together; three or four families in one little, dark, damp, and dirty room. Let me sum up briefly the principal reasons for such an attempt.
“1. The imperative duty upon Christians to relieve abject poverty and misery wherever found, but especially among the descendants of those to whom we owe every solace and every hope for time and for eternity which we possess.
“ 2. The absolute necessity of some such measure to give efficiency to Mr. G.’s labours among them in his profession.
“ 3. The direct manner in which it would bring those thus relieved under the influence and instruction of the mission.
“ 4. The moral effect it would produce upon Jews in general, Christians, and Moslems also in this country.”
The appeal thus made was responded to by many of the friends of Israel, and great good resulted. Mr. Gerstmann continued to labour in his two-fold office of Physician and Missionary as long as he remained in the Holy City. A Dispensary was established : Mr. Bergheim, also a believing Israelite, assisted in dispensing medi
cine, and both were fully occupied in their benevolent work.
In January, 1842, Dr. Macgowan, who had offered his valuable services to the Society as Physician, arrived at Jerusalem, with the late Bishop Alexander, and immediately entered on those arduous duties which he has ever since so efficiently discharged. His description of the wretched state of the Jews in the former metropolis of their ancient heritage is touching in the extreme.
On February 26, 1842, Dr. M. wrote: labours are almost exclusively confined to the Jewish population. Their number here, according to the statement of one of the chief of their body, amounts to five thousand. Of these, three thou. sand are Germans, Russians and Poles ; and the remainder Spanish and Portuguese. As they exercise no trade, they are generally in very needy circumstances, and are maintained principally by the alms of their brethren in other parts of the world.
The condition of some families which I have visited is wretched in the extreme. Their dwellings are in dark vaulted caves, the roof dropping with damp from above, and the bare earth beneath, and often without door or window to keep out the wind and rain. It is in these dark and dismal abodes, that the descendant of God's chosen people drags out a miserable existence, and presents a striking fulfilment of that utter desolation which has fallen on his city and nation....
“ The necessaries of life, which are already too scanty in health, are miserably deficient in sick
The want of attendance, of cleanliness, of suitable nourishment and of ordinary precautions
is quite appalling. The absence of these destroys more lives than the disease itself.
“ The knowledge of these circumstances justifies me in venturing to make a strong recommendation to the Committee to lose no time in carrying into effect their plan of establishing a hospital at Jerusalem in connexion with the Mission. However small the scale on which it shall be commenced, such an institution would be the means of incalculable benefit to the great cause we have at heart as well as to the interesting objects of it.”
Dr. Macgowan was soon able to find a large house calculated for the commencement of such an institution as was contemplated. This was fitted up for the reception of patients, and soon completely occupied by poor suffering Jews. We hope to give some details of its success in our future numbers, as well as a description of the hospital as it now is, a view of which we have prefixed to these introductory pages.
The Rev. Dr. M.Caul, in a Sermon entitled “ The New Testament plan of Missionary operation,” has clearly and forcibly illustrated the duty of Christians, in accordance with the example of their Lord, to go about doing good to the bodies of men, whilst they seek to promote the salvation of their souls. In the case of
Jews thisis especially necessary; because, as soon as they become even enquirers into the truth of Christianity, they are generally deprived of their previous means of existence. It is heartless, inconsistent and unchristian to say, “ Be ye warmed and filled,” and not to help them in the very distresses which come upon them in consequence of the accomplishment of our most ardent desires and earnest prayers. In the case of the poor