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October 10, 1975 - Image 56

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1975-10-10

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56 October 10, 1975


A Bicentennial Feature

Father of Georgia Peach Industry Demolishes Anti-Semite


distinguish the 19th Cen-

(Copyright 1975, JTA Inc.)

The South was vital in the
development of American
Jewish history. While New
York and Philadelphia were
among the chief centers of
Jewish activity when the
, people's life began in this
country as an organized
community, much of Jewish
life was centered in the
• South.
Charleston became an
important center. From
New Orleans came Judah P.
Benjamin. Jews were active
in politics, in commerce and
education in several South-
ern states.
Not unlike other historic
experiences, the Jewish role
in the South also was
marked by frequent evi-
dences of anti-Semitic
trends. As in other spheres,
these trends were fought
courageously by Southern
Jews who defied bigotry and
demanded equal treatment
with their fellow Ameri-
One distinguished Jewish
Southerner — Raphael J.
Moses — was among those
who played an important
role in making Georgia "the
Peach State."

He was among the
South's famed orators and
statesmen. He served in
the Confederate Army.
And he made history with
an important letter he
wrote to an anti-Semite.

Born in Charleston, S. C.,
in 1812 — he died in Brus-
sels in 1893 — he was the
son of Israel Moses.
He first won fame as a
lawyer in Florida, moved to
Columbus, Ga., in 1849, and
immediately entered poli-
tics. Already having at-
tained fame as a youthful
orator, he was recognized as
an able campaigner and was
welcomed into political cir-
When the Civil War broke
out Raphael J. Moses enl-
isted in the Confederate
Army, rose to the rank of
major, was attached to the
staff of Gen. James Longs-
treet and became affection-
ately identified as "the hon-
est commissary."
Three of his sons also enl-
isted in the Confederate
army and one of them died a
hero's death in the Civil
A feature article in Atlan-
tic Monthly about "Men of
Mark in Georgia" published
in the 1940s identified
Moses as the father of the
peach industry in Georgia.
By stage coach to Macon, by
railroad to Savannah, on
vessels to Philadelphia and
New York, this interesting
man sent shipments of fresh
fruit to Eastern and North-
'rn markets.
And as the first shipper of
fruit from his plantation —
"Esquiline," at Columbus,
Ga. — more than a century
ago, Moses became an im-
portant industrial figure. It
may well be that the term
Peach State for Georgia was
due to his ingenuity.

After the

"You are not created
without a purpose; nature
exhibits her beauties by the
contrast of light and shade;
humanity illustrates its
brightest and noblest exam-
ples by placing its most per-
fect models in juxtaposition
with the meanest specimens
of mankind.

"So that you have the con-
solation of knowing that
your mind has been thus de-
formed in the wisdom of the
Great Architect, that you
might serve as a shadow to
bring forth in bold relief the
brightest tints of that beau-
tiful picture of religious tol-
eration engrafted in the con-
stitution of the United
States by the wisdom of our

"I have the honor to re-
main, sir, Your most obe-
dient servant, Raphael J.


Moses was urged to be a
candidate for Congress,
and upon his refusal the
Georgia Democratic State
Convention nominated
him for a place in the state
legislature. It was on that
occasion that an incident
occurred resulting in
Moses' writing his famous

vored to subdue; who, de-
spite the powers of man and
the antagonism of the com-
bined governments of the
world, protected by the
hand of Diety, have burst
the temporal bands with
which prejudice would have
bound them, and after 19
centuries of persecution still
survive as a nation, and as-
sert their manhood and in-
telligence, and give proof of
the 'the divinity that stirs
within them' by having be-
come a great factor in the
government of mankind.

Moses was elected to the
Georgia Legislature in 1866.
He was popular as a lawyer
and his oratory drew large
An interesting story is
recorded about a peddler
who deposited his hard-
earned savings in the Co-
lumbus Savings Bank and
sat down under an elm tree
for a rest. Two hours after
he had left his few dollars
with the bank clerk, he
heard rumblings of a crowd
near the bank and discov-
ered that the state bank
examiners had closed it. He
managed to gain his way
indoors and demanded his
$600, but his request was

At that political conven-
tion, a man named Tuggle
arose to deliver a vicious tir-
ade, demanding to know if
"this Christian community"
desired to be represented
"by a Jew." The convention
acted quickly — in favor of
"Would you offer a living
Moses and with a rebuke to example of a man onto
whose educated mind toler-
He asked for the name of
Moses was not present ation cannot enter — on
when the tirade took place. whose heart the spirit of lib- a Jewish lawyer and was
When he was informed erty and the progress of directed to the office of Ra-
about it he wrote this letter: American principles have phael J. Moses.
"I have taken time to au- made no impression? You
Listening sympatheti-
thenticate a report which I can find it illustrated in
cally to his story, Moses
heard for the first time on yourself.
proceeded to the bank and
the evening of the last day
"Your narrow and be- the peddler identified the
of the convention. At West
Point during our congres- nighted mind, pandering to bank cashier who accepted
sional campaign, and my the prejudices of your audi- his money, a Mr. Wil-
absence, you sought for me tory, has attempted to taunt liams. In the presence of
a term of reproach and from me by calling me a Jew — the peddler and the cash-
our well-filled vocabulary one of that peculiar people ier, Moses addressed the
selected the epithet of Jews. at whose alters according to gathered crowd and said:
"Had I served you to the teachings of your theologi-
"Gentlemen, but two
extent of my ability in your cal masters, God chose that hours ago this pack peddler
recent political aspirations his son should worship.
at my side entered Colum-
and your over-burdened
"Strike out the national- bus, came to this bank, and
heart had sought relief in ity of Judea, and you would Williams accepted from him
some exhibition of unmea- seek in vain for Christ and
for deposit, knowing
sured gratitude, had you a his apostles. Strike out of $600
that the books of
wealth of gifts and selected sacred history the teachings
from your abundance your of the Jews, and you would the bank were being exam-
ined, that the bank would
richest offering to lay at be as ignorant of God and soon
be closed.
my feet, you could not have the soul's immortal mission
"Had the depositor been a
honored me more highly nor as you are of the duties and
distinguished me more amenities of social life.
Gentile and the cashier a
Jew, that Jew would now be
gratefully than by proclaim-
ing me a Jew.
"I am not angered, but hanging from yonder tree.
"I am proud of my li- while I thank you for the
"As it is, this poor for-
neage and my race. In opportunity which you eigner is helpless. In this
your severest censure you have given me to rebuke a bank I have several thou-
cannot name an act of my prejudice, confined to a sands of dollars on deposit
life which dishonors ei- limited number, distin-
. . . and I'll take my
ther, or which would mar guished for their bigotry chances on its recovery with
the character of a Chris- and sectarian feelings of you all.

tian gentleman.

"I feel it an honor to be
one of race whom persecu-
annot crush; whom
c! has in vain endea-

which you are a fit exam-
plar, I pity you for having
been cast in a mould im-
pervious to the manly and
liberal sentiments which

"But to Mr. Williams I de-
clare in your presence that
if he does not return the
$600 to this peddler within

24 hours I will kill him !"
The peddler's $600 was re-
turned to him at once.
This is the story of one of
the heroes of the Confeder-
acy, a man who was an even
greater hero as a fighter for

human rights and for jus-
By his oratory and his
fearlessness, Raphael J.
Moses earned an important
place among the leading
Southern statesmen.

Scholars Undertake Project
to Explore 'Zion Concept'

is some "concept of Zion" in
almost every American
home. Since 1620, when the
Mayflower colonists ar-
rived, the Holy Land has
been rooted in America's
spiritual traditions.
But what do Americans of
diverse religious and ethnic
backgrounds really mean
when they speak of the Holy
The answer-is a scholar's
task — and recently 53
prominent historians, ar-
chivists and librarians, and
some 50 other researchers in
religious and political his-
tory, met for a two-day col-
loquium at the National
Archives building in Wash-
ington to spur a major re-
search effort in a long-neg-
lected field of study.

Their involvement broad-
ened a special research pro-
ject in America-Holy Land
Studies begun jointly four
years ago by the 83-year-old
American Jewish Historical
Society and the Institute of
Contemporary Jewry of The
Hebrew University of Jeru-
salem. The two groups, to-
gether with the National
Archives, sponsored the col-

Dr. Moshe Davis, head of
the Institute of Contempo-
rary Jewry, who conceived
the project, described it as
"gathering raw history" in
which the Zion theme is
being explored as "a combi-
nation of diplomatic his-
tory, Christian interest, cul-
tural background as well as
Jewish involvement."

Tzedaka Booklet
Highlights UJC-JWF
Anniversary Year

The concepts of Jewish
philanthropic giving are ex-
plored in "Zedakah/Char-
ity, Thoughts on the Nob-
lest Jewish Tradition," a
booklet published to com-
memorate the 50th year of
the Jewish Welfare Federa-
tion and the 75th anniver-
sary of its senior member,
the United Jewish Chari-

Prepared by Jewish com-
munity leader Leonard N.
Simons, the booklet affirms
Detroit's communal
strength which is rooted in
the belief that charitable
deeds are among life's most
important acts. The highest
degree of benevolence or
tzedaka is a willingness to
share resources with those
in need in a way which helps
them achieve self-support
and independence.

The pamphlet is a cooper-
ative effort of the Simons-
Michelson Fund and UJC
and JWF's Joint Anniver-
sary Celebration Commit-
tee. It contains the eight
degrees of tzedaka enumer-
ated by Maimonides as well
as excerpts from the works
of other Jewish philoso-
phers such as Samson Ra-
phael Hirsch and Moritz
Lazarus. Detroit rabbis
Richard C. Hertz of Temple
Beth El and the late Morris
Adler of Cong. Shaarey Ze-
dek are also quoted in the

"We are dedicated to
Leonard Simons for his
dedication to Detroit's


Jewish community," said
JWF president Mandell L.
Berman. "The booklet is
especially important dur-
ing this anniversary year
as it reminds us all of our
traditional roots and his-

Simons is a former Feder-
ation vice president and Al-
lied Jewish Campaign chair-
man. He was the 1963
recipient of Federation's
Fred M. Butzel Memorial
Award for "distinguished
communal leadership."

Activities of the Joint
Celebration Committee will
culminate at Federation's
annual meeting Oct. 29, at
Cong. Shaarey Zedek, with
a multi-media program hon-
oring UJC and JWF.
The tzedaka booklet has
been mailed to Jewish fami-
lies in the metropolitan area
and will be distributed to lo-
cal Jewish schools.

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