I am spending the summer processing Congregation Sherith Israel’s records for access at the Bancroft Library. It is a truly spectacular collection that documents, in fantastic detail, the history of one of the West Coast’s most important congregations. Its significance is amplified, however, by the fact that Sherith Israel’s 19th-century records survived the 1906 earthquake and fire. The collection is, accordingly, a wonderful and rare source of information about pre-earthquake San Francisco. I have already found some hidden treasures and will try to share these as I continue to process over the next months. Just today, I encountered all rolled up among the Secretary’s financial records (themselves a treasure trove) a lovely set of letters from 1892-1893 written by Rabbis around the country inquiring about the pulpit vacancy at Sherith Israel. Inquirers include Rabbis from Montana, Pennsyvlania, New York, Tennessee, Washington, Illinois, Ohio, Maryland, and other parts of California.
The advertisement (see below) reads:
THE PULPIT OF THE
CONGREGATION SHERITH ISRAEL
Being now VACANT, Applications for the Position of
are solicited. SALARY, $4,000 per annum.
Applicants must possess a THOROUGH ENGLISH and Hebrew Education; must be fluent English Speakers of attractive address, under 40 years of age, and graduates of a Rabbinical College. All applications to be addressed to L. Brown, Esq, 121 Sansome Street, this city; they will be treated confidentially.
ALEXANDER BADT, Secretary
San Francisco, Cal., June 1892