Michael Solomon Alexander
Michael Solomon Alexander (
1 May 1799, Schönlanke, ( Provinz Posen), Prussia, today Trzcianka, Poland – 23 November 1845, Bilbeis, Ottoman Empire) was the first Anglican bishopof the Diocese of Jerusalem.
He was born into an English
Jewishfamily living in Germany; his father was a rabbi. He emigrated to Englandin 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
shochetat Plymouth. He taught Hebrew to the Rev. Benjamin Goldingof 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 Danzigbetween 1827 and 1830, and then in London between 1831 and 1841.
He was professor of Hebrew at
King's College Londonfrom 1832 until 1841 and helped Dr. Alexander McCaulof the CMJ to revise the Mission's translation of the New Testamentinto Hebrew in 1835 and to translate the Book of Common Prayerinto 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
ordaineda bishop on 7 December 1841at 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 churchand Greek Orthodox churchsubsequently sent Patriarchs to Jerusalem to counteract Alexander's influence.
He died in
Bilbeis, Egyptwhile 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).
* [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] (
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