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Rev Abraham Spier of Plymouth

Abraham and Bessie Spier

Rev. Abraham Spier

I am enclosing what I have found in the Jewish Chronicle regarding Rev. Abraham Spier:


JC, October 7, 1887, p. 11.: Services at the Plymouth Synagogue on the recent festivals were conducted by the Rev. A.N. Spier and the Rev. A. Greenbaum.


JC, March 22, 1889, p.14.: The distribution of prizes to the pupils of the Plymouth Hebrew Sabbath School was held on Sunday, in the Synagogue Vestry Room. Mr. J. Cohen presided and Mr. Cohen handed the prizes to the successful scholars, who gave a pleasing entertainment during the proceedings. In acknowledging a vote of thanks to the Committee, Mr. S. Friedlander emphatically condemned the apathy with which the school was regarded, and announced that unless more help was forthcoming the Hebrew and religious education of the Jewish children in Plymouth would have to be discontinued. A vote of thanks to the Chairman, proposed by the Rev. A.N. Spier, terminated the proceedings.

JC, October 18, 1889, p. 13.: The synagogue, one of the oldest in the provinces, was very well attended during the recent Holidays. The services were conducted by the Rev. Mr. Spiers and Mr. Greenbaum. The election of officers was held on Sunday last, Mr. Louis Horwitz being elected President, Mr. I. Bosman, Treasurer, and Mr. H. London, Warden.

JC, February 7, 1890, p. 15.: On Sunday last a Memorial Service was held at the Plymouth Synagogue. Signs of mourning were general, and the Ark and Reading Desk were heavily draped in black. The Rev. A.N. Spier delivered a sermon from the text, "Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel." The Chief Rabbi had performed his duties of his sacred office with much zeal and fervor, and as time went on, the more they would feel the loss. His knowledge ranked him with the foremost of his predecessors, and he had been the most zealous in raising their feeble nation, whilst his fullness of mind and energy of soul were devoted to the object of filling them with the same love for God and love for mankind as he himself had, and that great object prompted his every thought. His exertions were always directed to one principle, that of improving their moral and religious life. It was not only in this country that the death of the Chief Rabbi would be mourned, but every Jew who was living, even in the remotest parts of the world, would keenly feel the loss. His counsel had been listened to with great interest by all men. And if by his virtues and teaching the Chief Rabbi should have moved them to imitate his example and follow in his footsteps, they would feel that he was with them, and the memory of him would live in their midst.

JC, April 4, 1890, p. ?: HASTY INTERMENTS - TO THE EDITOR OF THE "JEWISH CHRONICLE" Sir. - Can nothing be done to stop either by our civil or religious authorities, the system of hasty burials in our midst? A lady died last week (in a provincial town I have just left) at seven o'clock in the morning, and although not suffering from any contagious disease was buried at seven o'clock that same evening. In the same town, so I was informed, some five years back, a man who died at 5 o'clock in the morning was interred at 11 o'clock, just six hours after death, and he also was not suffering from a contagious disease. Such a system, quite apart from the danger of burying alive, is a public scandal. Cannot a manifesto be issued from the office of the Chief Rabbi to the Wardens of all Synagogues - protesting in the strongest terms against hasty burials - it certainly could do no harm, if it did no good - and if that had not the desired effect then the civil authorities ought to be asked to step in and stop it. I am afraid whilst we are like sheep without a shepherd, many abuses will creep in. Last week in a congregation where I was, one man suggested that we wanted a good Polish Rav of the old style to be at the head of the community. God forbid such a calamity should ever occur. What should be done and without delay is, to appoint the Rev. Dr. H. Adler to the post. I yield to none in my reverence for the memory of the late Chief Rabbi - but I believe in the adage, Le roi est mort, vivre le Roi. Yours obediently, H. Worms, 14, Grosvenor Place, Leeds.

JC, September 11, 1891, p. 16.: Special interest was directed this week to the arrival at Plymouth of the disabled Dutch passenger steamer Dubbledam, bound for New York owing to her having on board about 180 destitute Jewish refugees from Russia. The captain kindly consented to allow them, while they remained at Plymouth, to have meat [especially killed for them according to the Jewish law]. This was done at the expense of the company, which owns the ship, and was a concession, which was very greatly appreciated. Mrs. A.N. Spier and Mrs. Asher Levy stayed up all night on two successive nights to cook the 150 lbs. of meat, which were needed for the Jewish passengers. The meat was received with great thankfulness, as the poor people subsisted chiefly while on board, on a scant supply of herrings. One poor old man thanked Mr. Asher Levy, (President of the local branch of the Anglo-Jewish Association), with tears in his eyes, and holding up his tin of soup and meat, said it was the first he had touched for more than a month. Besides meat and soup the emigrants also received bread, sugar, tea and lemons. They were in a deplorable plight from the rough weather they encountered, which necessitated everything on board being battened down for several days. As the emigrants were scantily clothed, an appeal was made to both Christians and Jews (the latter being personally called upon by Mr. Orgel, Burial Warden, and Mr. Myer Fredman, Honorary Secretary of the Congregation), and resulted in a good response both in gifts of clothing and money. In addition to those already mentioned Mr. I. Roseman, President of the Congregation, and Mrs. Roseman, and the Rev. A.N. Spier, greatly interested themselves in attending to the wants of the poor refugees.

JC, September 18, 1891, p. 15.: Shortly before the departure from Plymouth of the Dutch Steamship "Dubbledam" which had put into that port with a number of Russian Jews on board, under circumstances mentioned in our last issue, a number of interesting presentations were made to the Captain. The committee of the Plymouth Hebrew Congregation assembled in the saloon and presented to the captain a silver fuse-box with the following inscription: -: Capt. Andries Potjer, for sympathetic treatment of emigrant Russian Jews under his care, Plymouth, 1891." Mr. Asher Levy, in making the presentation, thanked Captain Potjer for the kind manner in which he had assisted the committee in their endeavors to alleviate the condition of their distressed brethren. These thanks were not to be considered as only emanating from the small community at Plymouth, but came from the Jews of the world, who noted and appreciated such acts of kindness. Captain Potjer's skill in navigating his damaged vessel safely into a port of refuge was only excelled by the consideration he had exhibited for every class of passenger on board. The intrinsic value of the gift was small, but he trusted Captain Potjer would carry it round the world with him, and keep it as a memento of incidents in connection with his visit to Plymouth.


JC, October 16, 1891, p. 16.: The services were read by the Revs. A.N. Spier and A. Greenbaum, and Mr. I Roseman, President of the Congregation. The prayer for the Jews in Russia was recited by Mr. Spier, and resulted in a collection of about 15 British pounds.

JC, April 8, 1892: On Saturday last the portion of the week was read from a Sepher Torah written by the Rev. A.N. Spier, of this Congregation. The Torah is of an extraordinarily small size, and measures five and a half inches in height. The columns are three and a half inches long by one and a quarter wide. Notwithstanding its diminutive size and the extreme smallness of the letters, it is so written that it can be read without the slightest difficulty. The weight of the Sepher is one pound six ounces. Mr. Spiers is to be congratulated on his work, which must have entailed a large amount of trouble.


JC, October 11, 1892, p. 16.: On the first day of the festival of the Tabernacles, the Rev. A.N. Spier delivered an address, expressly alluding to the significance of the holy festival they were celebrating.



JC, July 31, 1896, p. 17.: The Rev. A.N. Spiers, formerly of Plymouth, had been elected Chazan, Shochet &c., to the Sheffield Congregation, New Church Street. 

JC, October 9, 1896, p. 22.: On Saturday last, the Barmitzvah of Master Joseph Isaacs, son of Mr. Lewis Isaacs, of 90, Wicker, Sheffield, took place at the synagogue, North Church. The youth read the whole of the Portion of the Law, and the Haphtorah. The Rev. Mr. Spiers, Reader of the synagogue, delivered a special address. Among the visitors at the synagogue and at the subsequent reception, was the Rev. Mr. Hawthorne, Vicar of Ought Bridge, who has ever shown a friendly interest in the local Jewish community. His tolerant and broadminded expressions of sympathy with and admiration of the Jewish race and the vital part they perform in the world's progress, were heard with appreciation and gratification by the gathering.


JC, December 18, 1896, p. 24.: The fortnightly concert of the Jewish Literacy and Philharmonic Society was held last Sunday in Messrs. Wilson Peck's Rooms. The whole of the program was arranged by Messrs. M. and A. Chapman, who provided the entertainment for the evening. The following ladies and gentlemen took part: Miss J. Spiers, Miss L. Chapman and Miss E. Spiers, Mr. Pinder, and Mr. A. Chapman. A paper was read by Mr. M. Chapman, entitled "Printing," which proved very interesting. The first of a series of "Social Evenings", in connection with the Society, took place on Thursday, December 10th. The entertainment, which took the form of a concert and dance, was a great success, both financially and otherwise. The programmed was arranged by Miss Rose Baum, who also acted as accompanist.

The programmed was as follows: - Pianoforte Selections, Miss Jennie Lamb; songs, Miss R. Barratt, R.A.M., Mr. Lanwarne Hawkins (baritone), and Mr. E.C. Wykes (tenor).

JC, December 25, 1896, p. 23.: The Rev. A.N. Spiers, Reader of the Congregation, delivered a special sermon last Sabbath on the occasion of his youngest son being Barmitzvah.

JC, February 5, 1897, p.?.: Mr. H.L. Brown, President of the Sheffield Board of Guardians, writes: I was much surprised upon reading the criticisms, under the heading of "Sheffield" from a correspondent on the subject of the 'Third Annual Ball in aid of the Sheffield Jewish Board of Guardians' funds. As, however, you have thought [not?] to insert these criticisms, will you allow me a word, not of explanation, but of reply. This ball being a mixed gathering, there being 100 Christians present to only 20 Jewish members, I was forced, out of consideration for the comfort of the majority, to depart somewhat from the traditional custom of my faith. The Jews, who were present, with their families, were all members of the Committee, and they arranged the menu, together with myself, a special table being provided for our community, upon which was served boiled salmon, and tea and coffee. The salmon was boiled whole in the skin, steamed in a proper fish steamer, and served out to the Jewish members. Unlike your correspondent, I neither write nor do I attempt to shield myself under the cloak of anonymity.

Mr. Maurice Finestone, the Hon. Secretary, also writes: - I notice in your issue of last week an anonymous criticism by a correspondent re the menu provided at the Jewish Charity Ball, held on January 20th. Your correspondent, who, I presume, was one of the guests, evidently makes a statement without entertaining a true knowledge of the facts. Allow me, as the Hon. Secretary to the Jewish Board of Guardians, to defend the President and the Committee, who have been assailed. Firstly, he asserts that as the fare of the Ball was not kosher, a statement to the effect should have been made to our co-religionists. As a matter of fact, the Jewish people who were present knew that the menu provided was not kosher, and most of them were aware of the cause. It is a matter of great difficulty to obtain a first class hall in Sheffield where the catering is not included by the proprietor or caretaker, and if the object of the Committee in undertaking the work of carrying out the Ball was to be realized, in establishing the Board on a sounder foundation, and to alleviate the distress prevalent amongst the Jewish poor of this City, the comfort of our Christian friends, to whom the success of the Ball is mainly due, had to be of primary consequence. Granting that it might be unusual to have trifa fare at a Jewish Charity Ball, the reasons indicated above are, I think, quite sufficient to explain the conduct of those concerned. Secondly, the President, at a previous meeting, alluded to the inability of obtaining a kosher supper, and he appealed to those present to content themselves with the kosher food the Committee would be able to secure in the shape of light refreshments, as it was hoped that those of our persuasion would not object to make some slight sacrifice of their comfort considering the good purpose of the Ball.

At a Hospital Sunday evening, held in the Vestry Room, North Church Street, on Sunday last, Mr. H.L. Brown, President of the Jewish Board of Guardians, handed in the sum of 30 British pounds as a result of the profit made on the Charity Ball held on January 20th. Mr. M. Wigram proposed a cordial vote of thanks to the President for his kindness and untiring energy in undertaking the work of conducting the ball to such a successful issue. Mr. A.F. Harris seconded, and Mr. D. Finestone supported the motion.


Last Sunday having been Hospital Sunday, a special service was held in the synagogue. The Rev. A.N. Spiers read the Afternoon Service and Special Prayers for the occasion. Two lectures were delivered by the Rev. A. Chaikin, one in Hebrew and the other in English. The result was that a larger sum was collected than in previous years. The preacher referred to the Indian Famine Fund, for which a special service is to be held on Sunday week.

JC, February 19, 1897, p. 28.: On Sunday last, at the New Synagogue, West Bar, in accordance with the Chief Rabbi's instruction, the Rev. A. Chaikin preached in English and Yiddish on behalf of the Indian Famine Fund. 4 British pounds and 4 shillings has been collected and forwarded to the Mayor of Sheffield for the local branch of the Mansion House Fund. 

On Sunday a special service was held in the synagogue, North Church Street, in aid of the Indian Famine Fund. The Rev. A.N. Spier officiated, and preached from the text, "Do unto us charity and kindness." A Sheffield paper, which devotes considerable space to the service, says that the sermon "was always chastely and often powerfully worded. A feature of the sermon and of the service was the marked tone of loyalty and patriotism which pervaded it." The amount collected was 10 British pounds and 10s. A hearty vote of thanks was subsequently accorded to Mr. Spier for his sermon. 

JC, June 4, 1897, p. 27.: The Rev. A.N. Spiers was a guest at the Duke ofNorfolk's ball, held on Tuesday, at the Cutler's Hall, in commemoration of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

JC, November 19, 1897, p. 31.: A well attended special general meeting of the Jews of Sheffield, Mr. P. Isaacs presiding, was held on Sunday, at the schoolroom, North Church Street, for the purpose of considering the best means of carrying on the school successfully, as during the last visit of the Chief Rabbi to Sheffield, he urged on the Sheffield Congregation the necessity of establishing a Jewish school and begged the congregation to do so. Speeches were delivered by Messrs. H.L. Brown, M. Wigram, and S.B. Harris, to the effect that the promise given the Chief Rabbi must be kept. After a lengthy discussion, it was unanimously decided to invite applications for an efficient English Hebrew teacher. The school will be a free school for children of the congregation and the Chevra, and will be supported by voluntary contributions. The President vacated the chair, and Mr. H.L. Brown was unanimously elected as Chairman of the School Committee; Mr. S.B. Harris, Treasurer; Mr. I Gutenberg, Hon. Secretary. The following were elected on the Committee: Messrs. U. Budraizki, I. Guttmann, S. Cohen, L. Isaacs, M. Jacobs, L. Brown, J. Blaski, B. Alexander, M. Wigram, M. Woolman, J. Stone. Subscriptions to the amount of 30 British pounds were offered. 

An enjoyable concert took place in connection with the Literary and Philharmonic Society on Sunday. The following ladies and gentlemen kindly gave their services: Misses Rose Baum, Miss Lottie Binney, Miss Fanny Harris, Mr. I. Guttenberg, Mr. Louis Baum. A vote of thanks to the artists was proposed by Mr. Louis Finestone and seconded by Mr. Spiers. A special vote of thanks was given to Miss Fanny Harris, who, though fatigued after a long journey from Edinburgh, had (with Mr. A.A. Barclay's permission) kindly assisted. 

JC, December 3, 1897, p. 32.: An enjoyable concert was held last Sunday evening in connection with the Jewish Literary and Philharmonic Society. The whole of the programmed was arranged by Miss J. Spier. The following ladies and gentlemen kindly gave their services: Misses J. Spier, Eva Spier and Bessie Harris, Mr. H. Spier, and Master E. Spier. A vote of thanks proposed by Mr. S. B. Harris, and seconded by Mr. M. Chapman, was given to Miss J. Spier for arranging the concert.

The Hebrew Congregation has received from I. Guttman, an old and esteemed member, liberal gifts for the congregation and the Jewish poor. 

JC, February 4, 1898, p. 32.: On Sunday, being Hospital Sunday, a service was held at the Synagogue in North Church Street. The Rev. A. Chaikin delivered an English sermon to a large number of Jews and Christians. The Rev. A.N. Spiers read the Prayer for Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Family. The collection resulted in a very fair sum, as on former occasions.

JC, July 22, 1898, p. 27.: The Sheffield Jewish community has sustained a severe loss through the death of Mr. Isaac Rheiness, the Headmaster of the Jewish school. The school was progressing very successfully during the past nine months under his conscientious and zealous care. Mr. Rheiness had a short but very painful illness, to which he succumbed on Monday. The funeral was carried out under the direction of the President, Mr. H.L. Brown, his colleague, Mr. B. Harris, and the head of the Burial Board, Mr. Lewis Isaacs. Nearly all the Jewish inhabitants of Sheffield paid their last tribute of respect. The school children followed to the cemetery in a conveyance, and chanted the verses in Hebrew, which were given out by the Rev. Mr. Spiers, and the Rabbi Chaikin. Rabbi Chaikin delivered a eulogium at the grave. The school will continue, for the present, under the Rev. Mr. Spiers, who has undertaken to act as teacher, pro tem.


JC, February 3, 1899, p. 26.: On Sunday last, being Hospital Sunday, the Rev. A. Chaikin delivered an English sermon in the synagogue, North Church Street. A fair sum was collected. The Rev. A.N. Spiers officiated.


JC, December 1, 1899, pp. 29,39.: The Imperial Cycling Club (a Jewish body), which was formed this year, is making satisfactory progress. The Club gave a ball last week, the arrangements being entrusted to by the President, Mr. Isaac Friend. Mr. Philip Lasky was M.C. 

A Chanucah service was held on Sunday last at the synagogue, North Church Street, under the auspices of the Sheffield Zionist Association. The service was conducted by the Rev. Mr. Spiers, and concluded with an address delivered by the Rev. J.J. Yoffey, of Manchester. A meeting was afterwards held in the Schoolroom under the Chairmanship of Mr. S. B. Harris, the President, who delivered a speech, and was supported by Rabbi Avigdor Chaikin.

JC, February 2, 1900, p. 25.: An enjoyable evening was spent last Sunday in connection with the Sheffield Jewish Literary and Philharmonic Society. The entertainment took the form of a concert. The whole of the programmed was arranged and provided by Mr. A. Fairburn. The following artists from the Theatre Royal took part: Misses Lizzie Primmer (principal girl), Miss Nellie Lauraine (principal boy), and Mrs. Ernest Gerard (Royal Carl Rosa Opera Co.), Messrs. A. Bagshaw, William Garrett, Fred Buxton, James Danvers, H. Entwistle, Ed Chester, Downes and Langford, Sam Foster. Mr. A. Langstaff acted as accompanist. The vote of thanks to the organizer was proposed by the President, MR. J. Wollman.

The Rev. David Klein, of Manchester, by invitation of the President, Mr. L. Isaacs, conducted service at the North Church Street Synagogue on Friday evening and Saturday morning last. Sunday last being Hospital Sunday, the Rev. Avigdor Chaikin delivered an eloquent sermon at the North Church Street Synagogue to a crowded congregation in aid of the local charitable institutions. The amount collected totaled 10 British pounds (the highest sum ever collected at the North Church Street Synagogue). The Rev. David Klein again officiated at the service, and the Rev. A.N. Spiers offered prayers for the success of Her Majesty's forces in South Africa. A meeting was afterwards held in the schoolroom, and votes of thanks passed to the Rev. A. Chaikin for his excellent sermon, and to the Rev. D. Klein for officiating.

I looked through years worth of the Jewish Chronicle today and found several articles regarding Abraham Spier and his work in both the Plymouth and Sheffield congregations. One article, dated April 8, 1892, might be of interest to you - the article states that Abraham Spier created a Sefer Torah for the Plymouth congregation:

 "On Saturday last, the portion of the week was read from a Sepher Torah written by the Rev. A.N. Spier of this Congregation. The Torah is of an extraordinary small size, and measures five and a helf inches in height. The columns are three and a half inches long by one and a quarter wide. Notwithstanding its diminutive size and the extreme smallness of the letters, it is so written that it can be read without the slightest difficulty. The weight of the Sepher is one pound, six ounces. Mr. Spiers is to be congratulated on his work, which must have entailed a large amount of trouble."


Hmmm......might this Sefer Torah still be in the care of the Plymouth congregation? According to your website, the congregation owned, at one point, fifteen Sefer Torah.


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