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January 19, 1979 - Image 13

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1979-01-19

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Jewish Settlement in Charleston Since 1695


NEW YORK — Although
Charleston, South Carolina
was established in 1670 this
premier English settlement
has had Jewish residents
since 1695. By the year 1749
Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim
or Holy Congregation
House of God was organized
— the fourth oldest Jewish
congregation in America.
Within 15 years, in 1764, ,
the Coming Street Jewish
Cemetery was founded -
the oldest Jewish burial
ground in the South.
Beth Elohim Synagogue
saw its first building in the
year 1775 on grounds adja-
cent to the present day site.
In 1792, construction had
begun for a larger steepled
edifice, but the great Char-
leston fire of 1838 destroyed
the building. It was re-
placed in 1840 on the same
Hasell St. site by the pre-
sent imposing structure.
Consecrated in 1841 with
splended ceremonies, the
synagogue is often de-
scribed as one of America's
finest examples • of Greek
Revival architecture.
More important, Beth
Elohim Synagogue is ac-
knowledged as the birth-
place of Reform Judaism in
the United States. In 1824 a
sizable group of congre-
gants, 47 in number,
petitioned the Adjunta or
trustees of the synagogue to
change the Sephardic Ot-

thodox' liturgy. The peti-
tion, which asked abridge-
ment of the Hebrew ritual,
English translation of the
prayers and sermons in
English, was denied.

The disappointed lib-
eral members thereupon
resigned from the con-
gregation and organized
"The Reformed Society
of Israelites." The
society, influenced by the
ideas of the Hamburg,
Germany, Reform con-
gregation, the leading
modernist community in
Europe, lasted only nine
years, but many of its
practices. and principles
have become part of to-
day's Reform Judaism.

The liberal members then
rejoined the old congrega-
tion, and, while the present
temple was being built in
1840, an organ was in-
stalled. With the first serv-
ice in the new temple a
liberalized ritual was intro-
duced, and aside from being
the first synagogue in
America to include instru-
mental music in worship,
Beth Elohim became in
1841 the first Reform con-
gregation in the U.S. It was
one of the founding
synagogues of the Union of
American Hebrew Congre-
gations in 1873 and has re-
mained firmly committed to
Reform Judaism to this day.
Among the notable mem-

Knesset Slams Bureaucracy

JERUSALEM (JTA) — keep their lines open for
Coalition and opposition incoming calls.
MKs found common ground
Foriner Transport Minis-
in the Knesset in blistering ter Meir Amit of Shai said
attacks on the government the only cure for an inflated
bureaucracy last week.
bureaucracy was to give the
The subject was debated officials responsible for hir-
on separate motions intro- ing people the authority to
duced by Amnon Rubins- fire them, or promote them.
tein of the Shai faction and There should be fewer pub-
Likud MK Yosef Rom. lic servants but better ones
Rubinstein observed that and they should work har-
since 1948 the bureaucracy der, Amit said.
Deputy Finance Minister
has grown four times as fast
as the population and the Yehezkel Flomin rose to the
result has been a steady de- defense of the bureaucracy,
terioration of public serv- though without much con-
viction. He protested
against the "wholesale de-
Menalfem Savidor of nigration of civil servants."
Likud contended that over-
staffed government agen- ADL Hits U.S.
cies were more harmful
than the manpower shor- on Prejudice
tage. Every superfluous
civil servant "puts spokes in Anti-Defamation League of
the wheels of government" Bnai Brith has charged "re-
in order to justify his job, peated indifference to
enforcement of Executive
Savidor said.
Another Likud MK, Order 11246," a federal pro-
Meir Cohen, urged the gram prohibiting religious
consolidation of fiscal and ethnic employment dis-
agencies which now deal crimination and quoted an
separately with such official admission that "this
matters as the value type of discrimination" has
added tax, income tax not been given "a very high
and national insurance. priority."
In a letter culminating a
He also suggested that
government officials ref- series of correspondence on
rain from making tele- the lack of enforcement and
phone calls in order to compliance among govern-
ment contractors, the
called attention to
Envoy Is Named League
an acknowledgement by
JERUSALEM (JTA) -- Weldon Rougeau, director
Mordechai Lador, 55, has of the Office of Federal Con-
been named Israeli Ambas- tract Compliance Pro-
sador to Thailand. He prev- grams, and endorsed by
iously served in Nepal, Doanld Elisburg, assistant
Sierra Leone and the U.S. secretary of Labor for Em-
He was a member of Israel's ployment Standards, that
delegation to the United "we simply have to do better
in the future."

bers of Beth Elohim congre,
gation were Moses Lindo, -
who before the American
Revolution developed the
cultivation of indigo (South
Carolina's second crop), and
Joseph Levy, a veteran of
the Cherokee War of 1760-
61 and probably the first
Jewish officer in America.
More than two dozen men
of Beth Elohim served in the
War of Independence, in-
cluding the brilliant young
Francis Salvador, who, as
delegate to the South
Carolina Provincial Con-
gresses of 1775 and 1776,
was the first Jew to serve in
an American legislature.
Killed shortly after the
signing of the Declaration of
Independence, Salvador
was also the first Jew
known to die in the Revolu-
tionary War.
In 1790, President
George Washington re-
sponded to the congrega-
tion of Beth Elohim by
writing, "The affection-
ate expressions of your
address again excite my
gratitude, and receive my
warmest acknowl-
edgements ... May the
same temporal and eter-
nal blessings which you
implore for me, rest upon
your Congregation . ."
Members of the congrega-
tion founded Charleston's
Hebrew Benevolent Society
in 1784, the nation's oldest
Jewish charitable organiza-
tion, and in 1801 they estab-
lished the Hebrew Orphan
Society, also the country's
A Hebrew school where
secular as well as religious
subjects were taught func-
tioned from the middle of

Friday, January 19, 1919 13


the 18th Century, and in
1838 the second oldest
Jewish Sundayschool in the
U.S. was organized in Char-
leston. The blind poetess
Penina Moise was an early
superintendent of the


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