ALEXANDER, MICHAEL SOLOMON

ALEXANDER, MICHAEL SOLOMON (1799–1845), the first Anglican bishop in Jerusalem. After an Orthodox Jewish upbringing, in 1820 Alexander left his native Germany for England, where as Michael Solomon Pollack he served as ḥazzan and shoḥet to the small communities in Norwich (1820–21), Nottingham (1821–23), and Plymouth (1823–25). Coming into contact with Christian missionaries, he was converted to Christianity in 1825. Alexander then moved to Dublin, where he taught Hebrew, was ordained, and where, in 1827, he was appointed to a curacy. Later he was sent as a missionary to Danzig by the London Society for the Promotion of Christianity among the Jews. In 1830 he returned to London in the service of the society. From 1832 to 1841 he was professor of Hebrew and rabbinics at King's College, London. He collaborated with Alexander McCaul in Hebrew translations of the New Testament and the Anglican liturgy. In August 1840 he, with other converts, signed a protest against the damascus blood libel. When, on the withdrawal of muhammad ali from Palestine, it was decided to establish an Anglican and Lutheran bishopric in Jerusalem under the auspices of Great   Britain and Prussia, with missionary as well as political objectives, Alexander was appointed the first incumbent (November 1841). Although the British consul, on the instructions of the Foreign Office, did not support his missionary activities, Alexander zealously carried out the duties of his office as he conceived them, visiting Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and Abyssinia, which were included in his diocese. He died while on one of his visits to Egypt; his body was brought back to Jerusalem where he was buried in the Christian cemetery on Mt. Zion. His tombstone bears a long inscription in Hebrew, English, Greek, and German. His published works include The Hope of Israel, a lecture (1831); The Glory of Mount Zion, a sermon (1839); and The Flower Fadeth and Memoir of Sarah Jane Isabella Wolff… eldest daughter of… M.S. Alexander (1841). -BIBLIOGRAPHY: M.W.M. Corey, From Rabbi to Bishop: The Biography of… M.S. Alexander… (1956); A. Finn, Reminiscences of Mrs. Finn (1929), passim; H.J. Schonfield, History of Jewish Christianity… (1936), 216–19; A.M. Hyamson, British Consulate in Jerusalem in Relation to the Jews of Palestine 1838–1861, 1 (1939), 46–63; Handbook of the Anglican Bishopric in Jerusalem and the East (1941), 3–7. (Cecil Roth)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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