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EZEKIEL, JACOB:

Born in Philadelphia, Pa., June 28, 1812; died May 16, 1899. His parents, Ezekiel Jacob Ezekiel and Rebecca Israel, had come from Amsterdam, Holland, two years before his birth. He learned the bookbinding trade and worked at it for seven years. After having removed to Richmond, Va., he married Catherine Myers Castro on June 10, 1835. During his residence there he brought about the repeal of an ordinance which exacted an inordinate fine for the violation of the Sunday laws (1845), and four years later he succeeded in effecting the introduction of an amendment to the code of the state of Virginia, by which the observers of the Jewish Sabbath were placed on the same plane with those who rest on the "first day."

In 1849 Ezekiel secured the enactment of a law by which religious organizations were invested with the rights of incorporated institutions. In 1851 he protested against the ratification of a treaty between the United States and the Swiss Confederacy on the ground that the latter government discriminated against Jews, and that in consequence American-Jewish citizens would be without guaranty of their rights of settlement or sojourn in the cantons of Switzerland. Three years later he, with others, repeated his protest on the occasion of the proffer by the Swiss government of a block of marble for the Washington Monument. In 1841 he addressed a letter to President John Tyler with reference to the impropriety of calling the American nation a "Christian people," as had been done in a proclamation on the occasion of the death of William Henry Harrison. In a private reply to Ezekiel the president conceded that intimations of sectarianism are irrelevant in public documents.

Ezekiel removed to Cincinnati in 1869, and became secretary of the board of governors of the Hebrew Union College in 1876. He served in that capacity until advanced age compelled him to withdraw from active work (1896).

Besides numerous contributions to current Jewish journals, Ezekiel wrote "The Jews of Richmond," and "Persecutions of the Jews in 1840," in "Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society" (No. 4, pp. 21-27, and No. 8, pp. 141-145). President Tyler's letter to Ezekiel is reprinted in the "Publications" of the same society (No. 9, p. 162).

Bibliography:
  • Pub. Am. Jew. Hist. Soc. No. 9, pp. 160-163.
A. L. Gr.
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