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A Portion of the People
This Happy Land First Families · Pledging Allegiance · Palmetto Jews 
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Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim, photograph of exterior by Max Furchgott, ca. 1950
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Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim, exterior
Charleston, S.C.
Photograph by Max Furchgott, ca. 1950
Jewish Heritage Collection
College of Charleston Library

The great fire of 1838 destroyed Beth Elohim’s earlier synagogue. The building was replaced by a temple in the Greek Revival style preferred by Protestants and Jews for the houses of worship they constructed in the 1840s. The firm of Tappan and Noble won the competition to design the new synagogue, Cyrus L. Warner of New York provided working drawings and detailed specifications, and David Lopez, a Charleston contractor and member of the congregation, was awarded the construction bid.

Cornerstones were laid on January 2, 1840. At the dedication ceremony in March 1841, Beth Elohim’s hazzan, Gustavus Poznanski, celebrated the glories of America and proclaimed: “This synagogue is our temple, this city our Jerusalem, this happy land our Palestine, and as our fathers defended with their lives that temple, that city and that land, so will their sons defend this temple, this city, and this land.”

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Last updated: Wednesday, September 18, 2019