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A Portion of the People
This Happy Land First Families · Pledging Allegiance · Palmetto Jews 
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Fancy's Sketch Book, portrait of Penina Moise, Sabbath School Companion,and KKBE hymnal
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Left to right:

Fancy’s Sketch Book
Penina Moïse
Charleston, S.C.: J. S. Burges, 1833
Paper and ink
Private collection

Penina Moïse (1797–1880)
Framed photograph of portrait attributed to Theodore Sidney Moïse
ca. 1840
Photograph courtesy of Anita Moïse Rosefield Rosenberg

The Sabbath School Companion
Volume 1, No. 2, February 1895
Paper and ink
Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim Manuscript Archives
College of Charleston Library

Hymnal belonging to B. D. Lazarus (1800–1875)
Charleston, S.C.: Levin and Tavel, 1842
Paper and ink
Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim

Daughter of Abraham and Sarah Moïse, Penina Moïse was one of the first female poets published in America. Her poetry appeared in newspapers and journals in Charleston, Boston, and New Orleans. She dedicated her 1833 collection, Fancy’s Sketch Book, to her friends and patrons, “The Misses Pinckney”—Maria Henrietta and Harriott, daughters of Charles Coatesworth Pinckney, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Sometime after the fire of 1838 destroyed Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim and much of downtown Charleston, Penina’s nephew Theodore Sidney Moïse painted her portrait. The blaze in the background is said to represent the conflagration that consumed her beloved synagogue.

Moïse wrote many of the lyrics collected in Beth Elohim’s 1842 hymnal, the first volume of its kind published by a Jewish congregation in America. The Sabbath School Companion, was a short-lived periodical published “in the interest of the Sabbath School and Bible Class of K.K. Beth Elohim.” The issue shown here featured an essay by Penina’s nephew, E. W. Moïse, entitled, “What Our Girls Can Do.” His advice: Stop wearing jewelry, refrain from loud talking, moderate your demeanor, and tone down your taste in dress.

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Last updated: Wednesday, September 18, 2019