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Sabato Morais Collection


This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Summary Information

University of Pennsylvania: Library at the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies
Morais, Sabato, 1823-1897.
Sabato Morais Collection
Date [bulk]:
Date [inclusive]:
Call Number:
11.5 Linear feet (22 document boxes)
Multiple languages
Language of Materials note:
English, Hebrew, Aramaic, Italian, French, German, Samaritan (Aramaic), Spanish.
Cite as:
Library at the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, University of Pennsylvania. Sabato Morais Papers, Box 1, File Folder (FF) 1.
PDF Version:

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Sabato Morais was born on April 13, 1823 to Samuel and Bonina Morais in the northern Italian city of Leghorn (Livorno), in the grand duchy of Tuscany. Morais was the third of nine children, seven daughters and the older of the two sons. The Morais family descended from Portuguese Marranos. Morais' mother, Bonina Wolf, was of German-Ashkenazic descent. Morais' father, a man of limited means, was an ardent Republican and a proud supporter of the cause of Italian nationalism, for which he was once imprisoned. Morais' mother is reputed to have been a woman of great piety, from whom Morais is said to have gained a devotion to Jewish tradition. Among his siblings, it is known that Morais' sister Virginia married Dr. Caesare Lunel Bey, the Attorney General of Egypt. Morais' brother's name was Leone, and several other family members' names, including those of several of his sisters and their children, appear scattered throughout the correspondence (written in Italian) found in the collection.

Morais received rabbinical training from the Chief Rabbi of Leghorn, Abraham Baruch Piperno, as well as from Rabbi Abraham Curiat, Rabbi Isaac Alveranga, and Rabbi Angiolo Funaro. In 1845, Morais was presented with a rabbinical ordination, signed by the first three aforementioned rabbis. Morais himself preferred not to be addressed by the title "rabbi" -- his degree, some have argued, was only a teaching certificate. In addition to his rabbinical training, Morais also studied Semitics with Professor Salvatore De Benedetti, of the University of Pisa and was thoroughly versed in the full range of the broader European cultural and intellectual heritage.

From an early age, Morais felt impelled to earn a livelihood due to the financial situation of his family. In 1845, at the age of 22, Morais chose to leave Italy and his studies for London to seek the position of "Second Reader" at the largest Sephardic congregation in London, "Sha'are Shamayim" at Bevis Marks. While failing initially to secure the position, primarily because of his lack of fluency with English, Morais would return to London the following year to work as the Master of the same Congregation's Orphan's School, a post he held through 1850.

In addition to his work as Hebrew instructor at the Orphans school, Morais privately tutored Hebrew and Italian, while also working diligently to acquire a mastery of the English language for himself. During his five years in London, Morais was befriended by the famous Jewish philanthropist, Sir Moses Montefiore, who was (like Morais) a native of Leghorn in Italy. Morais also claims to have "pressed the hand" of Giuseppe (Joseph) Mazzini, the exiled Italian nationalist, and according to one account helped Mazzini return surreptitiously to Italy by lending him his passport.

In 1851, after some hesitation, Morais left London for the United States to apply for the position of Hazan (Cantor and Reader) at Philadelphia's oldest and one of America's most prestigious congregations, the Spanish and Portuguese Congregation Mikveh Israel. Morais arrived in New York on March 14, 1851 and in Philadelphia three days later. On his birthday, April 13, 1851, Morais was elected Hazan of the Congregation, and sixteen years later on September 18, 1868, he received a life-time contract. In assuming the office of Hazan, Morais succeeded the Rev. Isaac Leeser, the controversial traditionalist, after a vote taken by the board, 20-11. On May 17, 1854, Morais became a United States citizen and the summer of that year returned to Italy for a brief visit, apparently the last time he would travel back to his family and to his native home.

Morais married a school teacher in Philadelphia named Clara Esther Weil the following year in 1855. She gave birth to seven children before her death in 1872, which not only left Morais tremendously bereaved but also burdened with the task of raising the seven children by himself. Morais never was to re-marry. Of the children, Henry Samuel Morais became a founder of the Jewish Exponent of Philadelphia, a contributing editor to the Philadelphia Jewish Press and an author of two books. Morais' daughter Nina, the oldest child, was a respected literary figure and civic leader, who eventually would move with her husband Emmanuel Cohen from Philadelphia to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Morais' other children were his daughters Rebecca (who married Eugene Lyon), Gentile (who married Hermon Loeb), Esther, and Miriam, and his son Leon. Neither Henry, Leon, Esther, nor Miriam is known to have married.

As a communal and religious leader, Morais played an active role in virtually every civic and charitable cause in the city of Philadelphia and carefully followed the political issues of his day both throughout the United States and around the world. He first gained lasting fame for his outspoken support of President Lincoln during the Civil War -- a stance that later would result in his receiving an honorary membership in the Union League of Philadelphia. Morais maintained his public advocacy of the cause of abolition and the preservation of the Union in the face of tremendous pressures, a one year suspension of his preaching privileges, offers of bribes, and threats of dismissal from the board of his own congregation. Notable among Morais' other controversial stances as minister of Mikveh Israel was his support of the right of women to vote on all congregational issues, a policy which was adopted by vote in 1882.

Morais supported Jewish causes not only in Philadelphia and in the United States but also throughout the world, as evidenced by his participation in the Alliance Israelite Universelle, of which he was vice-president of the Philadelphia chapter. Morais played an active role in responding to the persecution of Jews in Morocco and Romania and spoke out against the notorious abduction of Edgar Mortara, and later of Joseph Coen, Italian Jewish children who were taken from their parents and baptised, with the consent of the Vatican. In 1868, Morais petitioned both the president of the Board of Delegates of American Israelites as well as the United States Secretary of State to appeal to the provisional government in Madrid to revoke the infamous 1492 edict of expulsion of the Jews from Spain. In 1870, following the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian war, Morais urged the United States to intervene to prevent the burning of Paris and to negotiate peace.

As a communal leader, Morais is perhaps best remembered for his efforts to re-settle in the United States Russian and other Eastern European Jews fleeing the pogroms which had erupted throughout Eastern Europe beginning in 1881. In 1890, when a strike was declared by the Philadelphia clothing makers union, pitting many of these same immigrants against some of the most prominent members of his own congregation, Morais played an instrumental role in resolving the dispute. Morais was involved in many other types of public battles, including his defense of the principle of the separation of state and religion, and his efforts to combat the Christian missionary movements which were so strong in his day.

Morais was deeply involved in the development of higher Jewish education in the United States. From 1867 through 1873, he was professor of Biblical Exegesis of Maimonides College, the so-called "first American Jewish Theological Seminary," and later served as an examiner for the Hebrew Union College of Cincinnati before his eventual break with this central institution of the Reform movement. Morais also tutored children throughout his life, often for little or no remuneration, and regularly taught for the Hebrew Sunday School movement, started by Rebecca Gratz.

Morais is perhaps most famous for his role in founding the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (1886), of which he was a member of the executive Board, president of the faculty and of the advisory board, and professor of Bible. Morais not only founded the institution, but also conceived its motto: "To Learn and to Teach, To Observe and To Practise (lilmod u-lelamed lishmor ve-la'asot)" [an Hebrew epigram which had first appeared in America on the cover of Isaac Leeser's journal The Occident and American Jewish Advocate (1843)]. A more complete listing of the various institutions and organizations with which Morais was affiliated is found below.

Morais was a frequent contributor to local and regional newspapers, often championing humanitarian causes such as, for example, the treatment of the Chinese in the West, Native American Indian rights, and the persecution of Armenians. He was called upon regularly to deliver public lectures (in addition to his regular regimen of weekly Synagogue sermons) on a variety of subjects, addressing such topics as the prevention of cruelty to children, the prevention of cruelty to animals, the need to give to the poor and needy, and the improvement of the status of women. Less publicized were his frequent visits to aid the infirmed, the destitute, and the imprisoned.

Morais' literary contributions have not yet been assessed. In his day, he was renowned as a translator and master of Hebrew literature. Of particular note in this regard are Morais' translations from Italian into English (for the first time) of several works of Samuel David Luzzatto (ShaDaL), the famous leader of Italian Jewish learning, including Luzzatto's critical introduction to the Pentateuch. Morais also translated for the first time from Hebrew into English two of the medieval Jewish leader Maimonides' famous epistles: the "Letter to Yemen" and the "Treatise on Resurrection." Shortly before his death, Morais completed an English translation of the Biblical book of Jeremiah for the Jewish Publication Society (during the early stages of its efforts to produce a new translation of the entire Hebrew Bible). Morais's son Henry attests that his father wrote a short commentary on the Book of Esther but no specific bibliographical information about this work has yet been found. Morais' mastery of both English literature and classical Jewish texts is evidenced throughout his many published and unpublished translations and studies.

In addition to his translations and commentaries, Morais composed several biographical and historical studies, many of them dealing with the Jews of Italy. Among his many shorter publications was a study of the history and status of the Ethiopian Jewish community, the so-called Falashah, which was published in the Penn Monthly in April of 1880. Morais also engaged in polemical exchanges on aspects of religious reform which were published in the various newspapers and journals of his day.

Morais' many unpublished sermons and writings, whose publication he opposed during his lifetime, were principally concerned with Biblical and exegetical topics. Morais also composed many explanatory lectures and addresses on post-Biblical Jewish history and theology. He also composed many funeral orations and wrote on contemporary questions of Jewish ritual practices.

Morais died in Philadelphia on November 12, 1897, at the age of 74, after several bouts of illness. He was buried in the Mikveh Israel cemetery located at 10th and Federal St. in Philadelphia.


The following preliminary list, based on information contained in the Morais Papers and in the bibliography provided below, presents all of the organizations in which Morais had either a formal membership or role or an informal but contributing relationship:

Alliance Israelite Universelle (Vice-president, Philadelphia chapter)

American Jewish Historical Society

American Historical Association (elected member)

Association of Jewish Immigrants (appointed to the committee on membership)

Bevis Marks (Master of Hebrew at the Orphans' school)

Carmel Colony (Baron de Hirsch Fund)

Chaplaincy of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons in Pennsylvania (declined)

Chautauqua System of Education

Doreshe Da'at Society of Philadelphia

Freemasons, Order of (member)

Gratz College (helped to found)

Hebrew Charitable Association

Hebrew Education Society (volunteer instructor)

Hebrew Immigrant Society of Philadelphia

Hebrew Literary Society (first president and lecturer)

Hebrew Sunday School Society (instructor)

Hebrew Union College (examiner)

Hospital and Immigration Society

Hyman Gratz Trust (member of Board of Trustees, ex officio)

Human Freedom League

Indian Rights Association (supporter)

Jeshurun Lodge

Jewish Alliance of America (Treasurer)

Jewish Foster Home (and Orphan Asylum) (founder and board member)

Jewish Hospital Association (member)

Jewish Maternity Association

Jewish Minister's Association (member)

Jewish Publication Society (on the consultation committee)

Jewish Summer School of Atlantic City

Jewish Theological Seminary (founder, president of the faculty and of the advisory board, and member of the executive committee)

Jewish Theological Seminary Association (President)

Literary Association of Philadelphia (honorary member)

Maimonides College (founder and faculty member--Professor of Bible)

Mikveh Israel (Minister, Hazan, superintendent of its congregational school [1892])

Mikveh Israel Association (member and honorary president)

National Council of Jewish Women

National Farm School (Baron de Hirsch Fund)

Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (member)

Rappaport Benevolent Association (member)

Society Esrath Nashim (Helping Women)

The Society for the Extension of University Teaching (elected member)

Southern Hebrew Sunday School (volunteer, lecturer)

Union League of Philadelphia (elected honorary member)

United Hebrew Charities (member and contributor)

United Hebrew Relief Association

Universal Peace Union (officer)

University of Pennsylvania (honorary degree, "Doctor of Laws")

Young Men's Hebrew Association (President "for awhile" and member)

Young Women's Union


American Hebrew

American Israelite

American Jewish Historical Society, Publications


Association Bulletin

Association Review

Boston Traveller

Daily Mercury

Episcopal Register

Evening Herald

Evening Telegraph

Hebrew Standard

Jewish Exponent

Jewish Index

Jewish Messenger

Jewish Record

Jewish Tribune

Ledger and Transcript

Menorah Monthly

Mirror and Keystone

Mose Antologia Israelitica, Corfu

North American and United States Gazette

Occident and American Jewish Advocate (also was a subscriber)

Penn Monthly

Philadelphia Inquirer

Public Ledger

Sunday Dispatch

The Age (Philadelphia)

The Times (New York Times?)


Morais also made charitable contributions, often anonymously, to many other organizations, including Miss Moss' Infant School, and the Touro hospital.

Scope and Contents

The Morais Papers can be divided roughly in half primarily between correspondence and writings. The earliest materials in the collection date from 1845 and the latest from just before Morais' death in November of 1897. The bulk of the collection is concentrated from after the time when Morais came to the United States in 1851 through 1897, and especially after 1876. The collection contains valuable information on Jewish life in Philadelphia in the second half of the nineteenth century, and provides new insight into Morais' role in the development of the Historical school of nineteenth century Judaism in American (precursor of American Judaism's modern Conservative movement) and the founding of its central institution: the Jewish Theological Seminary, in New York. Morais also maintained a life-long correspondence with family members, friends, and teachers from Italy, whose letters (in Italian) are rich in number and variety.

Several personal items, such as a copy of Morais' will as well as his certificate of membership in the Order of Free Masons, from Italy, are found in the collection. In addition, Morais' ordination discourse written in his own hand as well as his (rabbinical) ordination certificate from Italy are also held; the original ordination certificate, written on parchment and signed by Rabbis Piperno, Curiat and Alveranga, explicitly describes Morais as ordained, employing the language of "semikhah" (ordination).

The collection also contains numerous manuscripts and drafts of Morais' various sermons and lectures. As noted above, Morais was an outspoken supporter of a wide variety of causes such as abolition, (Native American) Indian rights, the protection of the Chinese working in the United States, protection of children and animals, supporter of the improvement of the status of women. Morais also received numerous appeals to help indigent Jewish communities, especially from Palestine.

Administrative Information

Publication Information

University of Pennsylvania: Library at the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies,  December 1992

Finding Aid Author

Finding aid prepared by Arthur Kiron

Revision Description

Elizabeth Peters 2016 June 16

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

The Morais Papers are still in relatively good, although fragile condition. Much of the collection was written on paper of good quality which has not decayed much over the last century. Very acidic and fragile documents have been interleaved with acid-free paper. While common sense should suffice, it may be worth emphasizing, nonetheless, that care should be taken in handling all of the material, especially anything marked "*fragile*." Much of the correspondence to Morais from Italy and elsewhere in Europe and Palestine was written on brittle paper and special caution should be taken when handling these letters.


Use Restrictions

Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Library at the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies.

Custodial History note

From the Library of Dropsie College.

New Acquisitions

The current collection has been enhanced by the recent donation of the long-presumed lost "Morais Ledger". This ledger contains perhaps the single most important record of Morais' writings. These articles, personally compiled and annotated by Morais, were in many instances anonymously published and many are not listed in Moshe Davis' selected, annotated bibliography (see: Davis, 1947). Significantly, Morais has signed his name to the articles in the Ledger which he otherwise had submitted anonymously for publication. Morais pasted these articles in this large, bound ledgerbook, numbering over 500 pages, and kept a running table of contents, in which he would record new publications by title, publication, and date. Unfortunately, the Morais Ledger is in very fragile condition and use of this item is restricted; however, the ledger has been scanned in an effort to ease the problem of access and make its contents more widely available. The scans are available at:

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Related Materials

Related Collections

Henry Morais Papers (Yeshiva University); Charles and Mary Cohen Collection (Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies).

A preliminary bibliography of primary sources relating to Morais may be found in Box 1, FF 1.


A photographic portrait of Morais (16.5 x 13.5) has been re-located to over-sized storage. The back of the photo-portrait bears the mark of the photographer, F. Gutekunst, 712 Arch St. Philadelphia, and is accompanied by the following inscription:

The Reverend Doctor Sabato Morais

Born at Leghorn, Italy April 13 1823

Died in Philadelphia November 11 1897 Heshvan 17 5658

Minister Congregation Mikveh Israel 1851-1897

Founder of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America

Presented by Miss Miriam Morais - September 1932

To Sabato Morais Ben Diner

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Controlled Access Headings

  • Correspondence
  • Manuscripts
  • Printed ephemera
Geographic Name(s)
  • Congregation Mikveh Israel (Philadelphia, Pa.)
  • Jewish Theological Seminary of America
  • Livorno (Italy)
  • Philadelphia (Pa.)--History--Sources.
Personal Name(s)
  • Benamozegh, Elia, 1823-1900
  • Benedetti, Salvatore de, 1818-1891
  • Felsenthal, Bernhard, 1822-1908
  • Funaro, Angiolo, 1854-
  • Hart, Abraham, 1810-1885
  • Leeser, Isaac
  • Luzzatto, Isaia, 1836-1898
  • Luzzatto, Samuel David, 1800-1865
  • Montefiore, Moses, Sir, 1784-1885
  • Mortara, Marco, 1815-1894
  • Piperno, Avraham Barukh
  • Veneziani, Emmanuel Felix, 1825-1889
  • Jews--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia
  • Jews--Study and teaching
  • Sermons, English--19th century

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Previous Use

According to Moshe Davis (1947, p. 60): "The very existence of [Morais'] letters, finely schematized, is a tribute not only to the great historical foresight of Dr. Cyrus Adler, but also to the love and devotion of the pupil for his teacher. It was Dr. [Cyrus] Adler's dream, amidst his busy life, to pause for a brief a moment and inscribe a final poem in the form of a biography to his master. He therefore collected everything and anything he could lay his hands on." Unfortunately, much of Dr. Alder's carefully wrought chronological scheme of arrangement was found disarranged upon initial inspection. Alder's basic organizational principles were sound, however, and have been maintained as possible.

The Morais Papers were microfilmed in 1956 by the American Jewish Archives. These microfilms are significant because they contain reproductions of materials no longer found in the collection, such as Morais' Italian passport (bearing the number 443) which he is said to have loaned to Joseph Mazzinni to enable him to travel from exile in London to Italy. Copies of these microfilms, including copy flow (hard copy) made from these microfilms are held by the Institute. The Morais Papers were also consulted at length by Dr. Moshe Davis whose selected, annotated bibliography of Morais' writings and papers and report on the contents and significance of the original collection was published in 1947 (see: Davis, 1947).

Collection Inventory

Box Folder

Finding Aid and Bibliography, 1992.

1 1

Correspondence, 1845-1897 (Bulk, 1851-1897) .

Scope and Contents

Inclusive dates of the correspondence range from 1845 through 1897, with the bulk of the correspondence beginning in 1851. The majority of the correspondence is addressed to Morais. Many of these letters include responses by him which are occasionally inscribed on the received letter. There also are many letters written by Morais, some of which may have been gathered together after his death for the purpose of eventual publication.


The correspondence is arranged chronologically by year and month. All ephemera and other types of items attached to correspondence have been kept together with the correspondence. The printed material series may be worth checking, however, for attachments, especially of notices, invitations, etc., spoken of in correspondence but not found with the letter. Undated correspondence is arranged in alphabetical order by correspondent, with all correspondence addressed to Morais unless otherwise noted.


A preliminary list of countries and U.S. cities of origin of correspondence sent to Morais:

Countries: Amsterdam, Barbados, Canada, England, France, Germany, Greece, Grenada, India, Italy, Jamaica, Palestine, Poland, Romania.

Cities in the U.S.: Athens (GA), Augusta (GA), Austin (TX), Baltimore (MD), Boston (MA), Brandon (VA), Charles River Village (Norfolk County, MA), Charleston (SC), Chicago (IL), Cincinnati (OH), Evansville (IN), Gordonsville (Orange County, VA), Houston (TX), Kansas City (MO), Long Brach City (NJ), Louisville (KY), Minneapolis (MN), Mobile (AL), New Orleans (LA), New York City (NY), Norfolk (VA), Pittsburgh (PA), Portland (OR), Richmond (VA), San Francisco (CA), Springfield (IL), Spring Lake Beach (NJ), Waterbury (CT), Waterloo (IN), Wilmington (NC).

Preliminary List of Correspondents

Samuel Abrahams, Grace Aguilar, Rebecca Aguilar, Cyrus Alder, Nathan Adler, Charles Allen, H.S. Allen, Rosalie H. Allen, Sarah Almosnino, Moses Angel, (B.?) Artom, Raffaella Ascoli, A. J. Ash, Henry Baird, N. Barnum. Miriam Belisario, Elijah Benamozegheh, Salvatore di Benedetti, Alfred Benjamin, Ezekiel Bernheim, Isidore Binswanger, Blum Bros., Joseph Blumenthal, S. C. Brace, Isidore Bush, L. Buttenweiser, Angelo Capua, J. Carvalho, Sabatini Choen, Charles J. Cohen, David Cohen, Emmanuel Cohen, Katherine M. Cohen, Mary M. Cohen, Max Cohen, Mathilde H. Cohen, R. D. Cordova, Raphel da Costa, Giuseppe Curiel, A. H. Delavante, Lewis Dembitz, Bernard Drachman, Moses Aaron Dropsie, David Einhorn, Josephine Etting, Jacob Ezekiel, Simon Ezekiel, J. M. Emanuel, Bernard Felsenthal, Pietro Ferrara, A. Finzi, Angiolo Funaro, Eisig (Isaac) Graber, Rebecca Goldsmith, Gustav Gottheil, Richard Gottheil, William Hackenburg, A. Hahn, Clara Hahn, A. Hart, B. B. Hart, Louisa Hart, Angelo Heilprin, Michael Heilprin, H. S. Henry, Jospeh Hertz, E. L. Hess, Emil G. Hirsch, Samuel Hirsch, Charles Hoffman, A. Huebsch, Adeline Hyneman, Henry Illiowizi, Abraham S. Isaacs, J. M. Isaacs, Meyer S. Isaacs, George Jacobs, Henry Jacobs, A. Jacoby, Hermine Jacoby, Morris Jastrow, Marcus Jastrow, Alfred T. Jones, J. Judelsohn, Emil Kleinsmith, Alexander Kohut, George Kohut, J. Korn, D. C. Labatt, Ephraim Lederer, Israel Leon, David Levy, Giuseppe Levi, J. E. Levy, H. M. Levy, E. H. Lindo, J. Lyons, Isadore Loeb, Isaiah Luzzatto, Samuel David Luzzatto, Alfred Marcus, Max Margolis, Ezekiel Melamed, Frederick de Sola Mendes, H. P. Mendes, Samuel Mendelssohn, M. R. Miller, Amelia J. Mitchell, Rebecca Mitchell, Charles H. Moise, Joseph Sebag Montefiore, Moses Montefiore, M. G. Montefiore, Henry Morais, Leon Morais, Nina Morais; Morais family in Italy: Alberto, Angiolo, Clara, Corilla, Felice, Fortunata, Gentile, Leone, Luigi, Mario, Rosa, Virginia (Nina) (Lunel), Laura Mordecai, Sarah Mordecai, Marco Mortara, Adolfo Moses, Lucien Moss, Rebecca Moss, M Mosse, A. H. Nieto, D. H. Nieto, E. Nunes, Aron Ottolenghi, Benjamin Franklin Peixotto, Pietro Perreau, Ellen Phillips, I. Phillips, J. Phillips, M. Picciotto, Abraham Baruch Piperno, Nathan Piperno, David M. Pizal, Leon Provenzal, Meir Rabinowitz, George Randorf, Leo Reich, A. Rosenbach, M. A. Rosselli, Callman Rouse, J. Rubenstein, H. Schneeberger, A. Montefiore Sebag, Solomon Sebag, A. Siegelsteiss, Jacob Singer, Abraham de Sola, Meldola de Sola, Solomon Solis, J. P. Solomon, A. S. Solomons, S. H. Sonneschein, C. D. Spivak, David Stern, Cyrus L. Sulzberger, David Sulzberger, Mayer Sulzberger, Moise Tedeschi, David Treves, Emanuel Veneziani, Jacob Voorsanger, Clara Weil, Virginia Weil, Caroline E. White, Cora Wilburn, S. R. Wiley, Yehudah Cohen Wistinetzky, Leopold Woodle.


Of particular note are Morais' varied correspondence with significant Jewish leaders of the nineteenth century throughout the United States, Europe (especially in England, France, Italy, and Greece), and Palestine (especially Jerusalem). There are two letters/cards sent to Morais from as far afield as Bombay, India. The correspondence provides extensive primary sources for documenting Morais' untiring involvement in numerous civic, religious, and charitable institutions (see above for a preliminary list of organizations).

Morais corresponded regularly with many of Italian Jewry's leading figures, such as Isaiah Luzzatto, the son of the famous Samuel David Luzzatto, Marco Mortara, the chief rabbi of Mantua, and Elia Benamozegh, chief rabbi of Leghorn. In addition, Morais also received correspondence from his teachers in Italy, including Rabbis Piperno and Funaro and Dr. Salvatore di Benedetti. He also maintained contact and worked with his childhood friend, the Chevalier Emanuel Veneziani (who became the almoner for Baron de Hirsch in Paris) for the resettlement of Eastern Europe Jewish refugees.

Morais also carried on an important, life-long correspondence with Bernhard Felsenthal, a learned reform rabbi and communal leader from Chicago, as well as with other prominent American Jewish leaders of his day. Morais was consulted frequently by Jewish scholars and laity, as well as by Christian ministers from across the country, on matters pertaining to the Jewish religion, its customs, and the Hebrew language. Several important autographs are also found scattered throughout this series, including those of Samuel David Luzzatto, and Moses Montefiore. Correspondence relating to the awarding of an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws to Morais by the University of Pennsylvania (the first such award to a Jew by them, according to H.S. Morais, et al.) has also been found. The correspondence series also demonstrates in a hitherto unappreciated way Morais' breadth of learning. In response to numerous questions that were often put to him, Morais shows a knowledge of no less than twelve languages: Aramaic, English, French, German, Hebrew of all periods, Italian, Greek (of the Septuagint), Latin, Samaritan, Sanskrit, Spanish, and Syriac. According to the Jewish Exponent (November 19, 1897, p. 2), Morais "wrote and spoke a classical Hebrew and was conversant with seven languages."

Box Folder


1 2


1 3


1 4


1 5


1 6


1 7


1 8


1 9


1 10


1 11


1 12


1 13


1 14


1 15


1 16


1 17


1 18


1 19

Samuel David Luzzatto autograph, 1862 September 22.

1 20

Moses Monefiore autograph, 1862 December 29.

1 21


1 22


1 23


1 24


1 25


1 26


1 27


1 28


1 29


1 30


1 31


1 32


2 1


2 2


2 3

1877 January-1877 June.

2 4

1877 July-1877 December.

2 5


2 6

1879 January-1879 June.

2 7

1879 July-1879 December.

2 8


2 9


3 1

1882 January-1882 June.

3 2

1882 July-1882 December.

3 3

1883 January-1883 July.

3 4

1883 August-1883 December.

3 5

1884 January-1884 April.

3 6

1884 May-1884 August.

3 7

1884 September-1884 October.

3 8

1884 November-1884 December.

3 9

1885 January-1885 March.

3 10

1885 April-1885 August.

3 11

1885 September-1885 December.

3 12

1886 January-1886 February.

3 13

1886 March-1886 May.

4 1

1886 June-1886 August.

4 2

1886 September-1886 December.

4 3

1887 January-1887 May.

4 4

1887 June-1887 July.

4 5

1887 August-1887 September.

4 6

1887 October-1887 December.

4 7

1888 January-1888 February.

4 8

1888 March-1888 April.

4 9

1888 May-1888 June.

4 10

1888 July.

4 11

1888 August-1888 September.

4 12

1888 October-1888 November.

4 13

1888 December.

4 14

1889 January-1889 February.

5 1

1889 March-1889 April.

5 2

1889 May-1889 June.

5 3

1889 July-1889 August.

5 4

1889 September-1889 December.

5 5

1890 January-1890 March.

5 6

1890 April-1890 May.

5 7

1890 June-1890 July.

5 8

1890 August-1890 September.

5 9

1890 October-1890 November.

5 10

1890 December.

5 11

1891 January.

6 1

1891 February-1891 March.

6 2

1891 April-1891 May.

6 3

1891 June-1891 July.

6 4

1891 August-1891 September.

6 5

1891 October-1891 December.

6 6

1892 January-1892 February.

6 7

1892 March-1892 April.

6 8

1892 May-1892 June.

6 9

1892 July-1892 August.

6 10

1892 September-1892 October.

6 11

1892 November-1892 December.

6 12

1893 January-1893 March.

6 13

1893 April.

6 14

1893 May-1983 June.

7 1

1893 July-1893 August.

7 2

1893 September-1893 October.

7 3

1893 November-1893 December.

7 4

1894 January-1894 April.

7 5

1894 May-1894 December.

7 6

1895 January-1895 June.

7 7

1895 July-1895 December.

7 8

1896 January-1896 June.

7 9

1896 July-1896 December.

7 10

1897 January-1897 May.

7 11

1897 June-1897 July.

7 12

1897 August-1897 December.

7 13
Ascoli, Rafaello, Undated.
Scope and Contents note

Includes on letter with Ascoli's signature as well as that to "Barone Giuseppe" (Mazzinni?). In Italian.

8 1

de Benedetti, Salvatore, Undated.

8 2
Binswanger, Isidore, Undated.
Scope and Contents note

Chiefly relating to the Jewish Foster Home.

8 3

Hart, Louisa, Undated.

8 4

Hyneman, Adeline, Undated.

8 5

Jastrow, M(arcus), Undated.

8 6

Concerning the George Keenan Testimonial, Undated.

8 7

Morais, Clara (S. Morais' niece?), Undated.

8 8

Morais, Gentile (S. Morais' sister), Undated.

8 9

Morais, Henry (S. Morais' son), 1920, Undated.

8 10

Morais, Leone (S. Morais' brother), Undated.

8 11

Morais, Nina (S. Morais' sister), Undated.

8 12

Morais, Sabato (miscellaneous), Undated.

8 13

Mordecai, Rosa, Undated.

8 14

Nieto, D.H. (of New York), Undated.

8 15

Mendes, H. Pereira, Undated.

8 16

Pulsifer, David, Undated.

8 17

Solis-Cohen, Solomon, Undated (after 1887).

8 18

Miscellaneous, Undated.

8 19
Miscellaneous, Undated.
Scope and Contents note

Includes correspondence from Samuel Mendelssohn, Bernhard Felsathal, Bernard Drachman, Henry Jensone, et al.

8 19a
Miscellaneous Postcards, Undated.
Scope and Contents note

Includes several from Isaiah Luzzatto

8 20
Miscellaneous letters in Hebrew, Undated.
Scope and Contents note

Includes several from Samuel Mendelssohn, one of Morais' students at Maimonides College, and several very fragile letters apparently from Rabbi Avraham Baruch Piperno, chief rabbi of Leghorn.

8 21

Miscellaneous letters in Italian and French, Undated.

8 22

Legal size correspondence, 1851-1893, undated.

17 1

Legal size correspondence, 1885 September-1885 December.

17 2

Legal size correspondence, in Italian, 18[55?].

17 3

Literary Productions.

Scope and Contents

The full range of Morais' literary contributions to American Jewish life are yet to be appreciated. In addition to the regular, weekly Biblical sermons which he delivered (in English) to his congregation, Morais frequently was called upon by and lectured before numerous civic, charitable, and educational groups. Morais also prepared numerous opening benedictions, funeral orations, occasional sermons for bene mitsvah and anniversaries, as well as contributed on a regular basis to the newspapers and periodicals of his day. Morais was an accomplished poet, having composed poetry in Hebrew and Italian, and translator, as noted above. Typescripts of a number of Morais' published works, which were being prepared for posthumous publication, are found in the collection. Among this group are parts of the typescript for what became the first and only collected volume of Morais' works Italian Hebrew Literature (edited by Julius Greenstone, 1926).



Box Folder

Bereshit, Undated.

9 1

Noah, Undated.

9 2

Lekh Lekhah, Undated.

9 3

Vayera, Undated.

9 4

Hayye Sarah, Undated.

9 5

Vayishlach, Undated.

9 6

Vayesheb, Undated.

9 7

Vayiggash, Undated.

9 8

Vayehi, Undated.

9 9

Shemot, Undated.

9 10

Bo, Undated.

9 11

Beshallah, Undated.

9 12

Yithro, Undated.

9 13

Mishpatim, Undated.

9 14

Terumah, Undated.

9 15

Ki-tissa, Undated.

9 16

Vayakhel, Undated.

9 17

Pikkude, Undated.

9 18

Vayikra, Undated.

9 19

Tzav, Undated.

9 20

Shemini, Undated.

9 21

Ahare moth, Undated.

9 22

Kedoshim, Undated.

9 23

Emor, Undated.

9 24

Behar, Behukothai, Undated.

9 25

Bamidbar, Undated.

9 26

Re'eh, Undated.

9 27

Shoftim, Undated.

9 28

Ha'azinu, Undated.

9 29

Jonah, Undated.

9 30

Job, Undated.

9 31

Miscellaneous, Undated.

9 32

Noah, Undated.

17 4

Special Sabbath.

Box Folder

Elul; Rosh ha-Shanah, Undated.

10 1

Penitential Sabbath (Shabat shubah), Undated.

10 2

Four Parashiyot before and after Purim (Shekalim, Zakhor, Parah, ha-Hodesh), Undated.

10 3

Sabbath before Passover (Shabat ha-gadol), Undated.

10 4
Miscellaneous, Undated.
Scope and Contents note

Includes sermons for Shabat Nahamu, the first Sabbath after the Ninth of Av; Sabbath of Rosh Hodesh Adar; a sermon on the observance of the Sabbath; one unidentified Sabbath sermon.

10 5

Sabbath before Passover (Shabat ha-gadol), Undated.

17 5


Box Folder

"A Farewell Address", 1854.

10 6

1879, 1881, 1884-1887.

10 7


10 8


10 9


10 10


10 11


Box Folder

Bar mitsvahs, Undated.

11 1

Anniversaries, Undated.

11 2

Anniversaries marking Morais' ministry (25-26th, 37-39th, 43-46th years), Undated.

11 3

Anniversary prayer and address for Moses Montefiore (Tefilah li-Moshe), 1885 April.

11 4

National events: Thanksgiving, Civil War, July 4th.

11 5

Funeral orations, Undated.

11 6-10

Funeral oration for Clara Esther Morais, S. Morais' wife, written and delivered by him, Undated.

11 11

Memorial service for Abraham Adler, late President of Hebrew Free Schools, Undated.

11 12
Funeral orations, Undated.
Scope and Contents note

Includes those for: Abraham de Sola, M. Isaacs, A. Huebsch, Blumn Hart, Morton McMichael, Simon Muhr, J. Lyons, a youth who shot himself accidentally, Samuel Mayer, Baron de Hirsch, Garibaldi, Edward Artog, Alfred T. Jones

11 13
Printed funeral orations, 1874-1884.
Scope and Contents note

Includes those for Bluma Hart, Rebecca Hart, Giussepe Mazzini, Simon Muhr

11 14

Funeral oration for Isaac Leeser; handwritten drafts in Morais' hand of Leeser's tombstone inscription, Undated.

11 15

Necrologia for Filipino Luzzatto, Undated.

11 16

"On the Death of Leopold Zunz", 1886 April.

11 17

Sermon on Penitence, Undated.

17 6

Thanksgiving Sermon, Undated.

17 7

Sermon on Immortality, Undated.

17 8


Box Folder

Miscellaneous Sermons.

17 9



Box Folder

Two lectures on the Authenticity of the Pentateuch, Undated.

12 1


Box Folder

Exegetical lectures, Undated.

12 2

"Some remarks on the first period of the life of Joseph".

17 10

Explanatory remarks on the Bible, Undated.

17 12

Exegesis of Biblical passages, copied in the hand of Leon Hyneman, 1852.

17 12

Exegesis of Biblical passages, Undated.

17 13

Exegetical lecture, 1852.

17 14


Box Folder

Lectures 1-20.

12 3

Lectures 21-43.

12 4

Lectures 44-64.

12 5

Lectures in Hebrew.

12 6


Box Folder

Biographical sketches of Shabbethai Donnolo, Nathan ben Yehiel, Immanuel of Rome, Elias del Medigo, Azariah de Rossi, David Nieto.

12 7

"Italy and Donnolo", 1883 April.

12 8

"Note all'autobiografie di S.D. Luzzatto", Undated.

12 9

"Moses, Ezekiel, Rabbenu Tam", Undated.

12 10

Joseph Mazzini, "A Patriot", a lecture delivered before the Youngmen's Hebrew Association of Philadelphia, Undated.

12 11

Moses Mendelssohn, Undated.

12 12


Box Folder

Lecture delivered at YMHA, Undated.

13 1

The Spanish period, delivered at YMHA, 1892.

13 2

Three lectures delivered at YMHA, Undated.

13 3

On the book "Esperanza de Israel", Undated.

13 4

Personally annotated copy of his "Mikveh Israel" essay, which appeared in PAJHS vol. 1, 1893.

13 5

"On the Bene Israel in India", Undated.

13 6

"On the Falashah", delivered to YMHA, Undated.

13 7

"On the Karaites", Undated.

13 8

"On the Kalam", Undated.

13 9


Box Folder

Theological lectures, Undated.

13 10

On Kashruth, Undated.

13 11

On the Messiah, Undated.

13 12

Five lectures on Immortality, Undated.

13 13

Five lectures on Revelation, Undated.

13 14

Four lectures on the Existence of God, Undated.

13 15


Box Folder

Admonishing lectures, Undated.

13 16

"The Necessity of Arguing Dispassionately with Intellectual Youths", Undated.

13 17

Dedications, Undated.

13 18

About religious schools and Sunday schools, Undated.

13 19
"On the Originality of the Hebrew Language", Undated.
Scope and Contents note

Mentions Sanskrit, Gian Battista Vico

13 20

On Cremation (as incompatible with Jewish precepts), Undated.

13 21

Two Catechisms, in French and Italian, Undated.

13 22

"On the Reported Outrages against Armenians", Undated.

13 23

"On the Treatment of the Chinese in the Far West", Undated.

13 24

"On the women of Israel, their standing in society", Undated.

13 25

On women and education, Undated.

13 26

On evil spirits, Undated.

13 27

On reform, Undated.

13 28

On synagogue practices, including singing and the Oriental rite, Undated.

13 29

On blood-libel accusations; On anti-Semitism and the refusal of admission by the Grand Union Hotel of New York to Joseph Seligman, the Jewish banker, Undated.

13 30

On the centennial of the Constitution, with printed flyers, Undated.

13 31
Materials relating to S.D. Luzzatto, Undated.
Scope and Contents note

Includes "The Duty of mutual correction", adopted from a discourse by Luzzatto; other materials, including a lecture and death notice

13 32

Jewish Theological Seminary Association writings, Undated.

13 33

"On a proposition to restore Israel to Palestine" (Zionism), 1891.

13 34

Translation of Maimonides' "Treatise on Resurrection" by Morais for the Jewish Messenger, Undated.

13 35

A preface by Morais to his translation of Maimonides' "Letter to Yemen", Undated.

13 36

Translation of Maimonides' "Letter to Yemen" which Morais entitled "Inspiring Hope", Undated.

13 37

Morais' ordination (semikhah) certificate, Undated.

13 38

Morais' ordination discourse, Undated.

13 39

On rabbis, Undated.

13 40

Miscellaneous lectures, Undated.

14 1-2

"Explanatory lecture to prove the necessity of the ceremonial laws", Undated.

17 15

Explanatory lecture on domestic peace, Undated.

17 16

Explanatory lecture on the importance of prayer, Undated.

17 17

Miscellaneous writings.

Box Folder

Miscellaneous writings, Undated.

14 3

Miscellaneous writings in English and Hebrew, Undated.

14 4

Miscellaneous writings and sermons in Morais' hand, Undated.

14 5-6

Typescripts of Morais' published writings, Undated.

14 7-11

Samuel David Luzzatto's "Lessons in Moral Necrology", translated into English by Morais.

17 18

Draft for the Jewish Theological Seminary, to the Trustees and the Advisory Board, Undated.

17 19

History of the Hebrew Language, in Morais' hand, Undated.

17 20

Bulletin and Annual report of the Mutual Benefit Company of Pennsylvania, 1872, 1879.

17 21

The Morais Ledger.

Box Folder

Morais Ledger Index.

18 1-3

The Morais Ledger.


Financial and Legal materials.

Scope and Contents

This series includes cancelled checks, checkbook stubs, deeds, and Morais' will (see Box 17, FF22).

Box Folder

Life Insurance, 1897.

15 1

Lease, 1897.

15 2

Private Deed, 1820.

15 3

Personal accounts book, 1883 September-1886 October.

15 4

Savings account book, 1889 December-1893 February.

15 5

Two savings account books, with checks signed by Morais, 1893 March-1897 November.

15 6

Checks, 1897 January-1897 November.

15 7-8

Checks and receipts, 1896 October-1897 February.

15 9

Check and receipt, 1884 May, 1897 December 3.

15 10

Check stubs, 1896 January-1897 October.

15 11-13

Typed copy of Morais' will, Undated.

17 22

Printed Material.

Scope and Contents

This series is composed of numerous broadsides, circulars, advertisements, clippings, flyers and other ephemeral, printed material such as invitations, greeting cards, and calling cards.

Box Folder

Greeting cards and invitations, Undated.

16 1-3

Notices and circulars, Undated.

16 4
Notices and circulars in French, Hebrew, and Italian, Undated.
Scope and Contents note

Includes one circular signed by Mazzini

16 5

Newspaper clippings, Undated.

16 6

Reprint of Morais' article on the Falashah (Ethiopian Jewry) which appeared in the Penn Monthly, 1880 April.

16 7

Clipping of an article about Morais which appeared in Helpful Thoughts, 1898.

16 8
Form of Service from the dedication of the new synagogue of the congregation Mikveh Israel, 1907 September 14.
Scope and Contents note

Includes portrait of Morais

16 9

"Dr. Sonneschein's Statement" on reform, 1886.

16 10

Advertisement in Hebrew by the bookdealer Eisig Graber for the works of Luzzatto, 1881.

16 11

Ephemeral item in Hebrew dealing with the seven blessings for a wedding (four copies), 1887.

16 12

100th anniversary tribute to Morais at Mikveh Israel (5 copies), 1923.

16 13

"An appeal to the Jews of Philadelphia to establish a Chair of Theology in the Jewish Theological Seminary in honor of Sabato Morais", Undated.

16 14

Photograph of Joseph Hertz.

16 15

Photograph of M.G. Ottolenghi, Salonika, 1895.

16 16

Mentions Abraham Baruch Piperno, 1863.

17 23

"Persecution des Israelites en Russie", 1881 May-June.

17 24

Circulars, Undated.

17 25

Lincoln-Hart correspondence (1862) in facsimile, Mikveh Israel Historical Series, number 3, 1960 November 6.

17 26

Death notice for Samuel Morais (Sabato Morais' father), with the funeral speech of S.D. Benedetti, 1862 June.

17 27

Miscellaneous material.

Scope and Contents

This series is composed of everything else which does not readily fit into any of the above categories, such as appeals for support from Palestine, a copy of a fragment in Samaritan characters, etc..

Box Folder

Charitable appeals, including United Hebrew Charities, Jewish Foster Home, Bikkur Holim Association, Undated.

17 28

Charitable appeals, including Jewish Foster home, Undated.

17 29

Charitable appeals for the poor of Palestine, Undated.

17 30

Charitable appeals from Palestine, Undated.

17 31

Charitable appeal from Palestine (very fragile), Undated.

17 32

Charitable appeals for the Ladies Emigration Aid Society, Society Esrath Nashim, the Female Hebrew Benevolent Society, 1869 November 3; 1891 January 18; 1907.

17 33

Resolution by Congregation Oheb Tzedek, for the dedication of a new Torah scroll, Undated.

17 34

Fragment of writing in Samaritan characters, Undated.

17 35

Account for the Hebrew Sunday School Society for the year 1865, kept by its Treasurer, Isabel Rosenbach, 1865.

17 36

Miscellaneous, including a prayer, a statement against radicalism, et al., Undated.

17 37

"The Hebrew Alphabet", Undated.

17 38

"Report of Sir Moses Montefiore Bart to the London Committee of Deputies of the British Jews", Undated.

17 39

Exam questions, tombstone of Judith Montefiore, Undated.

17 39a

Morais' Masonry certificate, Undated.

17 40


Scope and Contents

This series is composed of copyflow (hard copy) made from the American Jewish Archives microfilms of most of the Dropsie College Morais Papers as they were in 1956. These copies are important because they provide images of materials (letters, documents, etc.) no longer found in the current collection. This series also contains photocopies of significant items in the current collection which were selected and arranged for exhibit by Dr. Abraham Karp (in 1992).

Box Folder


19 1

Pastor and Preacher.

19 2

Holy Tongue-Holy Land.

19 3

Ordination thesis and diploma.

19 4

Regarding Priestly Garments.

19 5


19 6


19 7

Sephardi Savant.

19 8

Friends and Disciples.

19 9

Presidency of JTSA.

19 10


19 11

Miscellaneous sermons, lectures, translations, and writings for display.

19 12

"Letter to the Jews of South Arabia", by Maimonides, translated by Morais.

19 13


19 14

Piperno responsa.

19 14a

Public notices and printed material.

19 15


19 16

Reel 208., 1956.


Reel 207. Miscellaneous letters, lectures, and sermons., 1956.


Reel 201. Morais lectures., 1956.


Reel 202., 1956.


Photocopies of exhibit items., 1992.