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This Happy Land First Families · Pledging Allegiance · Palmetto Jews 
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Rabbi Hirsch Zvi Levine 1807-1887)
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Rabbi Hirsch Zvi (Margolis) Levine (1807–1887)
Newspaper clipping, pasted into Rabbi Levine’s notebook
Private collection

While the schism in Beth Elohim divided reformers and traditionalists, a new group of immigrants introduced another brand of Orthodox Judaism to Charleston. People of modest means—peddlers, artisans, metalworkers, and bakers—the newcomers gave the city’s Jewish population a more foreign appearance than before.

As early as 1852, these eastern European Jews began meeting under the leadership of Rabbi Hirsch Zvi Levine, himself recently arrived from Poland. In 1855, they formally organized as Berith Shalome (now Brith Sholom) or “Covenant of Peace”—the first Ashkenazic congregation in South Carolina and one of the first in the South. The shul became known as the “German and Polish” or simply the “Polish” synagogue, to distinguish it from the earlier downtown congregations.

Have the kindness to interest yourself in our behalf, by procuring for us a Kazon, Shoukad, & Mole.** One man must do the whole business.

—Morris Ehrlich, president of Berith Shalome, to Alexander Oelsner, 1858

** Hazzan, religious leader; shohet, ritual slaughterer; mohel, official who performs circumcisions.

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Last updated: Wednesday, September 18, 2019