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Noah's Grand Island, a Refuge For His People | Community Spirit

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Noah's Grand Island, a Refuge For His People
Noah's Grand Island, a Refuge For His People

"The desired spot in the State of New York to which I hereby invite my beloved people throughout the world, in common with those of every religious denomination, is called Grand Island, and on which I shall lay the foundation of a City of Refuge, to be called ARARAT"  

Major Mordecai Manuel Noah

  •   If Major Mordecai M. Noah hadn't suffered rebuffs and financial reverses back in 1825, Grand Island today might be the diplomatic headquarters of the new Jewish State of Israel-and it's City of Ararat a prospering metropolis instead of a myth. Major Mordecai Manuel Noah (1785-1851) was a noted American journalist(National Advocate), playwright, diplomat, New York politician, and Jewish advocate. He decided in 1825 to found on Grand Island a city of refuge for all the opposed members of his race scattered about the world. The story actually began five years earlier when on Monday, January 24, 1820, Noah applied to the State of New York to purchase Grand Island. The Bill was reported out of the house favorably for sale to Noah but nothing came of it. His hopes for the Jewish people, his people, though defeated, never remained down.
  •    In 1825 Samuel Leggett of New York City, acting in Major Noah's behalf but using his own money, purchased 2,555 acres of island property-one plot at the north end directly opposite mouth of the Erie Canal, which opened that year-and the other in the center. He had gotten and prepared a stone which was to be "the chief of the corner," with proper inscription and of ample dimensions for the occasion. The stone was obtained from the Cleveland sandstone quarries. The inscription, written by Major Noah, in Hebrew and English, inscribed by Seth Chapin of Buffalo is as follows: "Hear, O' Israel, The Lord is our God-The Lord is One.  ARARAT , a City of Refuge for the Jews, founded by Mordecai Manuel Noah, in the Month of Tizri, September 1825, and in the 50th year of American Independence."
  •    "It was intended, pursuant to the public notice, to celebrate the event on the island; and a flagstaff was erected for the Grand Standard of Israel, and other arrangements made; but it was discovered that a sufficient number of boats could not be procured in time to convey all those to the island who were desirous of witnessing the ceremony..." So through the friendly offer of the Rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Rev. Addison Searle, the ceremonies were transferred to that building, in Buffalo."
  •    Festivities opened on September 2nd; "at dawn of day a salute was fired in front of the court house, and from the Terrace facing the lake. At eleven o'clock a parade moved down Main Street from the Court House to St. Paul's with city officials, bands and members of the Masonic order in line." Center of all eyes was Noah himself, a gentleman of forty, proudly erect of carriage, florid of face, keen of eye, sandy-haired who strode just ahead of the rear guard of Royal Arch Masons and Knights Templar. Over his black costume, majestically austere, were thrown rich judicial robes of crimson silk, trimmed with the purity of ermine. From his neck depended a medal of gold glistening from high embossments." The major conducted the ceremony with all the solemnity benefitting the occasion.
  •   "On arriving at the church door, the troops opened to the right and left and the procession entered the aisles, the band playing the Grand March from Judas Maccabeus... On the communion-table lay the cornerstone. "On the cornerstone lay the silver cups with wine, corn and oil. "The cornerstone, was consecrated during the ceremony in both Hebrew and Episcopal rights.....

Story continues in The Buffalo History Gazette.com

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