Chronicles of the Lost: American Series
The name “Monis” is supposed to be Portuguese and Judah Monis may well have been a descendant of Marranos fled from Portugal to be Jews. He was born in Italy, or perhaps in one of the Barbary states, and he studied in Leghorn and perhaps in Amsterdam. He was probably a rabbi in Jamaica, and a merchant in New York and then no doubt had a shop in Boston or in Cambridge. In 1722, when he was thirty-eight or thirty-nine, he was publicly baptized in the hall of Harvard College and that year was appointed instructor in Hebrew.
He taught Hebrew at Harvard for three decades and seven or eight years. His post was not as important as that of a tutor’s nor his salary as much, but the subject was important. His pupils might find the study of that “primitive tongue” tedious, be absent, tardy, negligent or contemptuous, but teach he did, assiduous and faithful, and the corporation of the college helped him publish his Hebrew grammar in 1735—the first printed in America. He had married a young woman of Cambridge two years after his baptism, and he sold nails and locks, pipes and tobacco, to eke out his salary. But when, at his wife’s death, he resigned his post and went to live with his wife’s brother, minister of a church at Northborough, he could give the church three communion cups of silver and at his own death at the age of eighty-one leave a fund for poor widows of ministers.
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