Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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LEESER, Isaac, clergyman, born in Neuenkirchen, Prussia, 12 December, 1806; died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1 February, 1868. He arrived in Richmond, Virginia, in 1824, and after engaging in commerce was called to the pastorate of a Philadelphia synagogue in 1829. His literary labors began early, with translations from the German and articles in defence of Judaism; also with the publication of volumes of sermons, catechisms, and the editing of religious and devotional works. In 1843 he issued "The Occident," a monthly, the pioneer in Jewish periodical literature. He published "Instructions in the Mosaic Religion," translated from the German (Philadelphia, 1830); "The Jews and the Mosaic Law" (1833); "Discourses, Argumentative and Devotional, on the Subject of the Jewish Religion" (1836);" Portuguese Form of Prayer, in Hebrew and English" (1837-'8); "Hebrew Spelling and Reading Book" (1838); "Catechism for Young Children" (1839); "Discourses" (1840); an edition of Grace Aguilar's "Spirit of Judaism" (1842); "Descriptive Geography and Brief Historical Sketch of Palestine," from the Hebrew of Rabbi Joseph Schwartz; and a translation of the Scriptures from the original Hebrew, the work by which he is best known (1845-'53). Mr. Leeser was a zealous worker in charitable and educational fields, possessed a wonderful memory, and was esteemed for his honesty and singleness of purpose. He belonged to the conservative school.
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