Religion in the Trenches: Passover Seder

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Legion Para

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Practicing one's faith is not always easy, particularly if you are in a combat zone. Here is a glimpse into the Jewish Civil War soldier.

http://www.jewish-history.com/civilwar/seder.html

Confederate Passover

Following is a letter written by a Jewish Confederate soldier, Isaac J. Levy (pictured at left) of the 46th Virginia Infantry, from camp in Adams Run South Carolina, describing to his sister how he and his brother Ezekiel ("Zeke") (pictured at right) observed Passover during the Civil War


isaacjl.jpg
zeke.jpg
Adams Run
April 24th, 1864

Dear Leonora

No doubt you were much surprised on receiving a letter from me addressed to our dear parents dated on the 21st inst which was the first day of פסח[Pesach]. [note from LMB: Orthodox Jews are prohibited from writing on Sabbath or a festival] We were all under the impression in camp that the first day of the festival was the 22nd and if my memory serves me right I think that Ma wrote me that Pesach was on the 22nd inst. Zeke [Isaac's brother Capt. Ezekiel J. Levy of the 46th VA] was somewhat astonished on arriving in Charleston on Wednesday afternoon, to learn that that was the first סדר [Seder] night. He purchased מצות [Matzot] sufficient to last us for the week. The cost is somewhat less than in Richmond, being but two dollars per pound. [For point of reference, Matzah in New York City was then 6 cents a pound. LMB] We are observing the festival in a truly Orthodox style. On the first day we had a fine vegetable soup. It was made of a bunch of vegetables which Zeke brought from Charleston containing new onions, parsley, carrots turnips and a young cauliflower also a pound and a half of fresh [kosher] beef, the latter article sells for four dollars per pound in Charleston. Zeke E. did not bring us any meat from home. He brought some of his own, smoked meat, which he is sharing with us, he says that he supposes that Pa forgot to deliver it to him.

No news in the section at present. Troops from Florida are passing over the road enroute for Richmond. 'Tis probable that we will remain in this department and were it not for the unhealthy season which is approaching, would be well satisfied to remain here.

We received this morning Sarah's letter of the 18th inst. [Sarah Levy, Isaac's sister] and are truly sorry to hear that her sight is affected and that in a few days she will have recovered entirely her perfect sight. [Sarah Levy recovered from her eye problems and after the war married her sweetheart Cpl. Edwin Kursheedt, of the Louisiana Washington Artillery.]

Love to all
Your affectionate Brother
Isaac J. Levy

Isaac J. Levy was killed in the trenches at Petersburg, August 21, 1864. He was 21 years old. Isaac is buried in the Hebrew Cemetery on Shockoe Hill in Richmond, in the Levy family plot.

The original letter is on file in the American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati, OH.
 
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nitrofd

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Practicing one's faith is not always easy, particularly if you are in a combat zone. Here is a glimpse into the Jewish Civil War soldier.

http://www.jewish-history.com/civilwar/seder.html

Confederate Passover

Following is a letter written by a Jewish Confederate soldier, Isaac J. Levy (pictured at left) of the 46th Virginia Infantry, from camp in Adams Run South Carolina, describing to his sister how he and his brother Ezekiel ("Zeke") (pictured at right) observed Passover during the Civil War


isaacjl.jpg
zeke.jpg
Adams Run
April 24th, 1864

Dear Leonora

No doubt you were much surprised on receiving a letter from me addressed to our dear parents dated on the 21st inst which was the first day of פסח[Pesach]. [note from LMB: Orthodox Jews are prohibited from writing on Sabbath or a festival] We were all under the impression in camp that the first day of the festival was the 22nd and if my memory serves me right I think that Ma wrote me that Pesach was on the 22nd inst. Zeke [Isaac's brother Capt. Ezekiel J. Levy of the 46th VA] was somewhat astonished on arriving in Charleston on Wednesday afternoon, to learn that that was the first סדר [Seder] night. He purchased מצות [Matzot] sufficient to last us for the week. The cost is somewhat less than in Richmond, being but two dollars per pound. [For point of reference, Matzah in New York City was then 6 cents a pound. LMB] We are observing the festival in a truly Orthodox style. On the first day we had a fine vegetable soup. It was made of a bunch of vegetables which Zeke brought from Charleston containing new onions, parsley, carrots turnips and a young cauliflower also a pound and a half of fresh [kosher] beef, the latter article sells for four dollars per pound in Charleston. Zeke E. did not bring us any meat from home. He brought some of his own, smoked meat, which he is sharing with us, he says that he supposes that Pa forgot to deliver it to him.

No news in the section at present. Troops from Florida are passing over the road enroute for Richmond. 'Tis probable that we will remain in this department and were it not for the unhealthy season which is approaching, would be well satisfied to remain here.

We received this morning Sarah's letter of the 18th inst. [Sarah Levy, Isaac's sister] and are truly sorry to hear that her sight is affected and that in a few days she will have recovered entirely her perfect sight. [Sarah Levy recovered from her eye problems and after the war married her sweetheart Cpl. Edwin Kursheedt, of the Louisiana Washington Artillery.]

Love to all
Your affectionate Brother
Isaac J. Levy

Isaac J. Levy was killed in the trenches at Petersburg, August 21, 1864. He was 21 years old. Isaac is buried in the Hebrew Cemetery on Shockoe Hill in Richmond, in the Levy family plot.

The original letter is on file in the American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati, OH.
Interesting letter,especially about the cost of items back then.Kosher cost $4.00 a pound 150 years ago.that is interesting as I quess inflation isn't that bad after all.
 

LoyaltyOfDogs

First Sergeant
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Location
Gettysburg area
Private Joseph Joel (23rd Ohio) and the observance of Passover.

http://www.rbhayes.org/hayes/manunews/paper_trail_display.asp?nid=102&subj=manunews

The following albumen of Joel was a gift from Joel to President Hayes. The image is part of the Rutherford B. Hayes Photograph Collection.

View attachment 96894
Thanks, @Legion Para, for sharing Joseph Joel's story. It looks like the original link is now broken, but here is another one, which I hope contains the same document you were referencing.

Just recently I learned that Private Joel's account inspired an historical-fiction book for young readers, "Private Joel and the Sewell Mountain Seder," by Bryna J. Fireside, published in 2008 by Kar-Ben Publishing, Inc.

Private Joel.jpg
 
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