The Second Generation – Abraham Ottolengui
Abraham Ottolengui was the son of Mordechai and Rinah Ottolenghi. He was born in Charleston in 1790 and was sent to London for his education where he graduated as an ordained minister when he was 19 or 20 years old. When he returned to Charleston he expected to take up a position at the Kahal Kadosh Beit Elohim synagogue where his father in 1792 had sponsored a cornerstone, but he was thwarted from doing so by the complaint of a senior member who objected to employing a minister who had not yet reached the age of maturity.
So Abraham turned to business and commerce and became an successful auctioneer and during his lifetime donated frequently and generously to the KKBE community where, although he had not been accepted as a young minister, he served as president for 12 consecutive years.
He married Sarah née Jacobs, born 13th July 1793 in Charleston and they had some 12 children of whom 6 died in infancy or early childhood.
Upon his death Abraham bequeathed the sum of $1,500 to KKBE to be used to succour the poor and needy, and in his honour the management of the community published the following obituary notice:
Abraham Ottolengui, Dec. 12, 1850
|Died, at Charleston on the 12th inst., in the 61st year of his age, Abraham Ottolengui, Esq., President of the Hebrew Congregation of Beth Elohim. The subject of this notice was a native of Charleston. At an early age he was removed to England, where he received an education for the Hebrew Ministry. On his return to the city, having scarcely reached manhood, he would have been chosen permanent pastor of the Synagogue Beth Elohim, the only place of Hebrew worship then in Charleston, but from a scruple of delicacy on his part, one member only having expressed a doubt as to the propriety of electing a Minister who had not yet reached the age of maturity. He subsequently engaged in mercantile life and withdrew some years since from its more active and engrossing cares. His knowledge, however of commercial pursuits, his sound judgment, and systematic habits of business, led to his election as a Director of the Union Bank, of this place, to which post he had been re-elected for several years, and continued a director until the period of his death. Mr. Ottolengui had also largely participated in the administration of the affairs of the Hebrew Synagogue, Beth Elohim of this city, having served as Trustee for nearly thirty years and its President for an uninterrupted term of twelve years. He was a remarkable illustration of the solidity of the domestic virtues. His family affection flowed from a deep source and in a tranquil current. They were cultivated, not with a view to self-indulgence and parental pride, but to that principle of restraint which looks on the paternal relation as one of high duty—of solemn obligation. This was beautifully exemplified at nearly the last moment which closed his mortal career. Three days before his death he summoned his family around him, and addressing each according to his or her age, capacity, and degree of merit or of frailty, expatiated on their several duties in a strain that might be called, at the scene of a death-bed, an example of the moral sublime, so discriminating were the counsels and exhortations from the lips of that dying parent—so instructive—so calm and collected in the hour of death—so elevated was the spirit of resignation—so rich were the lessons of an unshaken fortitude and a tranquil philosophy. In that one moment was exemplified all the relations of husband, father, friend. In it was concentrated all the excellencies or his well-disciplined nature, in that outpouring of the heart and intellect. As he had in his own case exhibited a rare example of filial piety, having, when but a youth, given sympathy and support to a blind and aged mother, so in that higher relation of parent he evinced the deepest solicitude, bringing his whole domestic life into perfect unison. This death-bed scene, like the parting of Jacob with his sons, was no less than that, beautiful in exhortation, rich in parental monition—if not more touchingly pathetic, closing the scene with his paternal blessing. In the social sphere the subject of our notice manifested the qualities <<580>>that win respect and command confidence. Possessed of large wealth, acquired by steady industry he was without ostentation. himself, as he disliked parade in others—the simplicity of his habits was in just correspondence with the even tenor of life and his amenities of temper. Urbane in manners, he sought no distinction that was founded on a sacrifice of personal independence. The practical turn of his mind, and the rectitude of his judgment, would have given value to his services, as his integrity would have illustrated, civil station; but if he did not shun, he did not seek the glare of a public career, satisfied that his experience and advice should be felt within those more limited spheres which he occupied and embellished. His zeal for religion was unadulterated with bigotry, as his piety had no taint of intolerance. Educated in the principles of an ancient faith, that looked suspiciously on change, while he threw the mantle of charity over all who dissented from him on points of religious belief, he claimed for himself the largest liberty—the highest independence. His sole end here was truth, liberal inquiry, honest belief, sincere conviction. In his religious relations he was a model for universal imitation. As he understood and practised the golden rule of life, “do unto others as you would they should do unto you,” so were all the traits of his character, social, domestic, and religious, in harmony with that precept. Such was the life and such the death of a truly good and pious man, fully justifying the exclamation, “O let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his.” At a meeting of the Board of Trustees of Kahl Beth Elohim, or Hasel Street Congregation held at the Vestry Room, Sunday, the 15th December, 1850 or 5611, the following Preamble and Resolutions were offered, and unanimously adopted: Whereas, it has pleased Almighty God to remove from among us our esteemed and respected President, the late Abraham Ottolengui, Esq., who has for many years presided over our congregation, and whose conduct has been marked by urbanity, kindness, and a sincere desire to promote its welfare—therefore, Resolved, That we deeply deplore the loss we have sustained, as well in his official capacity as in the relation of friend and brother. Resolved, That as a mark of respect for the memory of the deceased, our place of worship be clothed with suitable badges of mourning for the space of thirty days. Resolved, That a copy of these Resolutions be sent to the family of the deceased; and that the same be published in the papers of the city. M. Jacobs, Sec’y. & Treas. KK. B. E.|