Michael Solomon Alexander

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Michael Solomon Alexander (1 May 1799, Schönlanke, (Provinz Posen), Prussia, today Trzcianka, Poland – 23 November 1845, Bilbeis, Ottoman Empire) was the first Anglican bishop of the Diocese of Jerusalem.

He was born into an English Jewish family living in Germany; his father was a rabbi. He emigrated to England in about 1820, and became a private tutor for a Jewish family in Colchester. Then he became rabbi at Norwich. Here he came into contact with a Church Mission to the Jews (CMJ) stalwart, William Marsh.

Attempting to flee Christian influences, he accepted the post of teacher and shochet at Plymouth. He taught Hebrew to the Rev. Benjamin Golding of Stonehouse church. In 1825, he converted to Christianity.

Soon afterwards, he and his wife, Deborah, went to live in Dublin, where he taught Hebrew and was ordained a priest in the Anglican Church in 1827. This was followed by working with CMJ, firstly in Danzig between 1827 and 1830, and then in London between 1831 and 1841.

He was professor of Hebrew at King's College London from 1832 until 1841 and helped Dr. Alexander McCaul of the CMJ to revise the Mission's translation of the New Testament into Hebrew in 1835 and to translate the Book of Common Prayer into Hebrew.

In 1841 the British and Prussian Governments and Churches entered into a unique agreement - the establishment of a Protestant Bishopric in Jerusalem. Alexander was proposed as the first Protestant bishop. He was appointed bishop of the United Church of England and Ireland in Jerusalem, and was ordained a bishop on 7 December 1841 at Lambeth Palace. He arrived in Jerusalem in January 1842.

Alexander's position was always a controversial one. He worked alongside the CMJ pioneer, John Nicolayson, in consolidating the Protestant presence in Jerusalem. Various institutions were set up under his leadership, including a School of Industry for training Jewish believers in basic trades, an Enquirers House, a Hebrew College, and a modern hospital for Jewish people. His presence greatly antagonised the Jewish leadership, as well as provoking the other major churches to consolidate their presence in Jerusalem. Both the Roman Catholic church and Greek Orthodox church subsequently sent Patriarchs to Jerusalem to counteract Alexander's influence.

He died in Bilbeis, Egypt while returning to England. He was buried in Jerusalem.


* Dictionary of National Biography
* Crombie, Kelvin. "A Jewish Bishop in Jerusalem: The life story of Michael Solomon Alexander", (Jerusalem: Nicholayson's, 2006).

External links

* [http://www.itac-israel.org/biographies_Michael_Solomon_Alexander.html Bishop Michael Solomon Alexander]
* [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=1148&letter=A Alexander, Michael Solomon] (Jewish Encyclopedia)

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