Henry Pereira Mendes
American rabbi; son of Abraham Pereira Mendes; born in Birmingham, England, April 13, 1852. He was educated at Northwick College (rabbinics), at University College (London), and at the University of the City of New York, taking the degree of M.D. He became minister of the Manchester (England) Sephardic congregation in 1874, and in 1877 was called to the Congregation Shearith Israel of New York, of which he is still (1904) the minister. In 1881 he was one of the founders of the New York Board of Ministers, and acted as its secretary from its foundation up to 1901, when he became president. He joined Dr. Morais in helping to establish the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1886, of which he became secretary of the advisory board and professor of history. On the death of Dr. Morais he became acting president of the faculty until the appointment of Dr. S. Schechter. In 1884, the centennial of the birth of Sir Moses Montefiore, he moved his congregation to convene the leadingJews of New York to mark the event by some practical work: the outcome was the Montefiore Home for Chronic Invalids, established in the same year. He was made vice-president of the Gild for Crippled Children in 1896, and in 1901 established the Jewish branch of that gild.
He promoted the formation of the Union of Orthodox Congregations of the United States and Canada (1897) and was subsequently elected its president. Mendes was one of the founders of the Young Women's Hebrew Association of New York (1902), of whose advisory board he is chairman.
In conjunction with his brother Frederick de Sola Mendes, and others, he was one of the founders of "The American Hebrew" (1879), to whose columns, as to those of the general press, he is a frequent contributor. He is the author of "Union Primer and Reading Book" (1882); "Jewish Hisṭory Ethically Presented" (1895); "Looking Ahead," a plea for justice to the Jew (1900); "The Jewish Religion Ethically Presented" (1904). Among his other writings are: "In Old Egypt," stories about, but not from, the Bible; "Esther"; "Judas Maccabæus"; and many essays in periodical publications.J. F. H.
One of the oldest Sephardic families. It continued in Spain and in Spanish possessions long after 1492, the year of the general expulsion. Many members of the family and its connections undoubtedly succeeded that year in joining the Jews ofAquitaine. Others drifted to Holland, Italy, Turkey, etc. The French or Aquitaine branch settled chiefly in Bordeaux, Bayonne, and Came. It inter-married with such old families as Pereira, Da Costa, Gomez, Vaez, Osorio, Sola, Sespedes, Capote, Quiros, Henriques, Soares, Casado, Morro, Bonito, Fonsequa, Nunes, Corcho, Netto, etc. Among Bayonne notables of this family may be mentioned Edouard Mendes (member of the municipal council, president of the tribunal of commerce, chevalier of the Legion of Honor), Auguste Mendes ("inspecteur des postes"), and Elysée Mendes (member of the tribunal of commerce and of municipal council). The earliest Mendes tombstone now in existence in Bayonne is that of Rodrigues Mendes (1637).
The Holland branch produced some notable writers, such as David, son of Atalyah Franco Mendes (author of Gemul 'Atalyah, Ḥanukkat ha-Bayit, Peri 'Eẓ Ḥayyim, Teshu'ot Yisrael), Samuel Rodrigues Mendes, and Samuel da Silva Mendes (authors or editors of editions of the Sephardic ritual on which the modern editions of David Levi, Meldola de Sola, Leeser, and Gaster are based).
The West-Indian or American branch springs from David Pereira Mendes, who fled from Spain to Bayonne and who arrived in Jamaica in 1786. He died the same year, leaving one son, Samuel. This son had twelve children, from one of whom, Isaac, were descended Joseph and Abraham. Joseph was the father of Isaac Philipe and four daughters. Abraham was the father of Frederick de Sola Mendes and Henry Pereira Mendes.
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- Main article Judaism and Other Religions
Rabbi Henry Pereira Mendes (1852-1937) served as rabbi of New York’s traditional Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, in which capacity he attended the 1893 Parliament of Religions in Chicago. He was the first president of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, and the first professor of homiletics at Rabbi Isaac Elhanan Theological Seminary in New York. He wrote:
- There is a legend that, when Adam and Eve were turned out of Eden or earthy paradise, an angel smashed the gates, and the fragments flying all over the earth are the precious stones. We can carry the legend further. The precious stones were picked up by the various religions and philosophers of the world. Each claimed and claims that its own fragment alone reflects the light of heaven, forgetting the setting and incrustations which time has added. Patience my brother. In God's own time we shall, all of us, fit our fragments together and reconstruct the gates of paradise. There will be an era of reconciliation of all living faiths and systems, the era of all being in at-one-ment, or atonement, with God. Through the gates shall all people pass to the foot of God's throne.
Here we have an Orthodox thinker who clearly affirms a common core of all religions, which over time became encrusted and thereby lead to devolution of various faiths. In the modern age we now seek a collective activity of all humanity’s seeking to return to the original core. The Biblical vision of becoming a light unto the nations is as part of a joint effort to worship together. The eventual goal is a messianic restoration to Eden.