The Jews of Charleston

The Jews of Charleston

Charles Reznikoff

Language: English

Pages: 373


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Original year of publication: 1950

Publisher's description
The small group of Jewish inhabitants of Charles Town, in the Colony of South Carolina, met in 1750 to organize themselves permanently into a religious community. This book tells that community’s story down to the present day. It describes the process of adjustment both of the Jews and their religion. It recounts the participation of the Jews in the fortunes of the wider Charleston community and in the events which constitute the history of the South. It places before the reader a two-hundred-year record of loyalty to Jewish tradition and service to South Carolina as colony and state.

Of special interest is the fact that Charleston’s was the first Jewish community in the United States to begin experimenting with reform in the Jewish ritual. The authors raise the questions why religious experimentation should have begun there rather than in other cities and to what extent the American Reform movement rose out of the American environment rather than in imitation of Reform in Europe. The subsequent history of Judaism in Charleston is, in view of these early tendencies, equally instructive for Jews and for all students of cultural survival. No less important is the evidence presented throughout the volume of the friendly relations which have obtained between the Jews of Charleston and their Christian neighbors.

The spirit of freedom and equality inherent in the American tradition has made for the development of unusual individuals whose activities have transcended their community. Among such men and women connected with the Jews of Charleston were: Moses Lindo, an early example of the supersalesman; Francis Salvador, the Revolutionary her who died all to soon; Isaac Harby, who was born to soon to succeed as a journalist; Penniah Moise, the blind poetess.

In the preparation of The Jews of Charleston, the Bicentennial Committee, for the celebration of the community’s two-hundredth anniversary, had the cooperation of a number of notable historians who formed an Editorial Board under the chairmanship of Professor Salo W. Baron. They selected two men of known ability in the field of historical writing and research and commissioned them to prepare the volume. Charles Reznikoff will be remembered for his novels, By The Waters of Manhattan, and The Lionhearted, and for the poetry and essays which he has contributed to various periodicals. His collaborator, Dr. Uriah Z. Engelman, is the author of The Rise of The Jew in Western World. He has done a great deal of research in Jewish community life in the United States and was a Director of the Department of Research of the American Association for Jewish Education. The two authors, under the general supervision of the Editorial Board, produced this readable and reliable history of one of the most interesting Jewish communities in the United States. It is a contribution to Jewish as well as American history, to the study of acculturation as well as of the survival powers of Judaism. The scholar and the layman alike will find it interesting and instructive.

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the last Session entitled ‘An Act for enlarging the time of taking the Oath of Allegiance’... The said (commissioners) having duly met and being sworn upon the Holy Evangelists of Almighty God... whereas Messers Sasportas and Des Palaisosios being transient Persons did take oath... were allowed to take oath again... And whereas Saml Dacosta (and two others)... being not arrived at the Age of Sixteen on the llth of May last, but being now passed their Sixteenth Year... to take the Oath as by Law

visitor from the East As the result of something or other that he said or wrote, he had to fight a duel with another Jew named Cantor, although as a Northerner Noah did not think much of the practice. Jacob F. Schirmer, the Charleston merchant, has in his diary97 the following entry for February 10, 1834: “Duel on the race course between Moise & Cohen the latter was mortally wounded and died on 12th.” In 1870, Ludlow Cohen, formerly a resident of Charleston, lost his life in a duel in Savannah.

they suspended him for five days which suspension terminated on Saturday at ten o’clock when he performed the prayers—Saturday evening being a meeting of the adjunta in general body he collected a rabble composed of all the vagrant Jews & had a petition signed by them to give him redress, this petition was handed the Parnass (president) who could not act upon it being in express violation to the constitution Mr. Carvalho in person aided and abetted the confusion and riot which took place in a

fail to point out. Although they were interested in Judaism, of course, their interest was not the vehement zeal of the prophets or the great rabbis. It was an interest but not a calling. There was no one among them whose profession it was to devote himself to advocating a “reform” Judaism as Merzbacher was to do m New York, 135 The Jews of Charleston afterwards, or Einhorn m Baltimore, or Isaac May er Wise in Albany and Cincinnati: whose daily business it was to teach, preach, and lead as the

compensation. In 1847, he offered to resign again but, at the meeting of the congregation, it was resolved that “the suggested resignation of the minister would be equally disastrous to the Congregation and the cause of Jewish Reform.” In spite of this resolution, Poznanski thought it would be in the best interests of the congregation to have another minister. Accordingly, a committee was appointed, of which he was chairman, “to pro144 New Doctrines, Prosperity and Tribulations cure a Hazan in

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