7 July 1850 Rabbi Lauria’s ordination

7 July 1850 Rabbi Eliezer Lauria ordained in Jerusalem #otdimjh

foundations (1)

Lauria, Rabbi Elieser, was one of several Rabbis who became Christians in Jerusalem in the first half of the nineteenth century. [Bernstein] He was baptized by Bishop [Rabbi Michael Solomon] Alexander in 1843, whereupon he was forced by the Jewish authorities to divorce his wife, who was sent by them back to Russia. She, however, returned to him in 1846, and in the next year she too made a public confession of her faith in our Saviour. Henceforth she assisted her husband in winning souls, and they laboured together at Cairo, until her death of cholera in 1849. Lauria opened a mission school there in 1850. He was much esteemed, even by the rabbis, and he circulated the Scriptures as far as Arabia, and the mission was not without results.

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Also from Bernstein:

One of the most interesting incidents connected with Ewald’s labours in the Holy City was the instruction and baptism of certain rabbis. Three, named respectively, Abraham, Benjamin, and Eliezer, had placed themselves under Christian instruction. A deputation from the Jews of Tiberias arrived to enquire whether the report was true, that fourteen rabbis of Jerusalem had embraced Christianity. The Jews of Jerusalem, very much exasperated on that account, did all in their power to avoid coming in contact with the missionaries, and removed all the books which they had previously received through the mission, in order that they might not be suspected.

Shortly afterwards two of the rabbis, Eliezer and Benjamin, known henceforth as Christian Lazarus Lauria and John Benjamin Goldberg, were baptized with two other enquirers, Isaac Paul Hirsch and Simon Peter Fränkel. The Rev. John Nicolayson, the head of the Society’s mission, referring to the [211] event, wrote: “It is not a small thing, that the apparently impenetrable phalanx of rabbinism at Jerusalem has thus actually been broken into; and two Jerusalem rabbis been incorporated into the restored Hebrew Christian Church on Mount Zion. How sore the Jews felt on this occasion you can easily conceive. They were, in fact, after all, taken by surprise, and felt sadly disappointed in having to yield up at last any lingering hope they might have had of their return.”

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Gidney gives more details:

The other event was the admission to Holy Orders, on July 7th, 1850, of the Rev. Christian Lazarus Lauria. The fact that he had been a rabbi invested his ordination with a great deal of interest Since his conversion, of which we have spoken on page 237, he had received missionary training in the Jerusalem College.

Much commotion was caused at this time at Jerusalem by the fact that three rabbis, Abraham, Benjamin, and Eliezer, had placed themselves under Christian instruction. Mr. Ewald wrote home :   “A deputation from the Jews of Tiberias arrived here, to enquire whether the report they had heard was true, viz., that fourteen rabbis of Jerusalem had embraced Christianity. The Jews of this place are very much exasperated on that account, and do all in their power to avoid coming in contact with us, and have removed all the books which they had previously received through the mission, in order that they might not be suspected.”

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Shortly afterward, two of the rabbis, Eliezer and Benjamin, [237] known henceforth as Christian Lazarus Lauria and John Benjamin Goldberg, were baptized with two other enquirers, Isaac Paul Hirsch and Simon Peter Friinkel. Mr Nicolayson, referring to the event, said:   “It is not a small thing, that the apparently impenetrable phalanx of Rabbinism at Jerusalem has thus actually been broken into ; and two Jerusalem rabbis been incorporated into the restored Hebrew Christian Church on Mount Zion. How sore the Jews felt on this occasion you can easily conceive. They were, in fact, after all, taken by surprise, and felt sadly disappointed in having to yield up at last any lingering hope they might have had of their return.”

Of the third rabbi, Abraham, Mr. Ewald said :   “There was, indeed, something which marred my joy on that occasion, which was the absence of Rabbi Abraham. For years had he been the faithful companion of Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Benjamin ; he had the same convictions, but he could not leave his wife ; the struggles between natural affection and spiritual blessings were too hard for him, and he returned.”

Lauria’s ministry

Lauria was able to preach to great numbers of Jews, both at his and their houses. On their Sabbath he was almost always fully occupied, from morning until sometimes late in the evening. Several Jews expressed a desire to become Christians, but foreseeing the overwhelming struggles they would meet with, and the abject and utter destitution to which they must be reduced, they shrank back and suppressed their convictions. The chief rabbi, alarmed at the progress of Christianity, procured controversial books from Jerusalem to counteract the new doctrines. Lauria made a missionary journey to Alexandria, Rosetta, Damietta, and other places in the Delta, where Jews resided. At Alexandria he found the Jews most accessible, not residing in any particular quarter of the city, but mixing with Christians. They did not bear such hatred against Christianity as did their Hebrew brethren at Cairo. He had conversations with them and their rabbis, distributing literature amongst them.   In October 1849 Bishop Gobat visited Cairo, and, with his ardent missionary spirit evinced a very lively interest in and satisfaction with the Society’s work there. Lauria took him to the houses of Jews. In accordance with the Bishop’s recommendation, Lauria was shortly afterward ordained at Jerusalem, visiting the Jews of Alexandria and Damietta on his way, and Mr. J. Skolkowski was appointed to assist him in his work ; but the latter did not remain long, being transferred to Lublin.

Prayer: Thank you Lord for the life, faith and work of Rabbi Eliezer Lauria. Help us to count the cost of becoming your disciples, and may our people Israel recognize your love in those who affirm you as Messiah, in whose name we pray. Amen.

About richardsh

Messianic Jewish teacher in UK
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