Contributing to the Community
As an active leader in the Jewish community, Mendes served on boards of many organizations including the Hebrew Benevolent Society. In 1858, he presided over a meeting in which plans for the Hebrew Hospital of Baltimore, now known as Sinai Hospital, were launched. Other records such as this petition to President Buchanan and benefit concert ticket speak to Mendes’ interest in the plight of Jews throughout the world, as well as his advocacy on behalf of democracy.
Hand-written petition signed by Mendes that he sent to President Buchanan protesting the forced conversion of a Jewish child in The Papal States. JMM 1988.189.4.
The Cohen brothers helped establish Baltimore’s first Sephardi congregation. The congregation, known as Beth Israel, began holding services in 1856 in the hall of the Hebrew Young Men’s Literary Association. The Cohens also served as officers of a related endeavor, the Baltimore Hebrew Sunday School Association which opened in 1857. Despite its promising start, there was never a large Sephardi presence in Baltimore, and the congregation only lasted several years.
Ticket stub from a concert that Mendes attended for the benefit of Hungarian exiles. JMM 1988.145.3.
Hebrew Hospital and Asylum (now Sinai Hospital) JMM 1991.203.3.