Philip Garfinkel, one of six children of Sam and Hannah Garfinkel, natives of Divin, Russia, grew up in the 1930s and ’40s in Charleston, South Carolina. Philip discusses his siblings, friends from the St. Philip Street neighborhood, and the family’s religious practices. He fondly recalls summers on Sullivan’s Island and afternoons at the Jewish Community Center on St. Philip Street.
Philip Schneider, born and raised in Georgetown, South Carolina, and Charlestonian Alwyn Goldstein, who moved to Georgetown in 1938 to open a store, discuss the town’s Jewish religious and business life. Among the merchants were Philip’s grandmother, Sally Lewenthal, and his father, Albert Schneider, who went into business with Philip’s uncle, Harry Rosen. Both interviewees recall the effects of the Great Depression in their native cities.
Holocaust survivor, Pincus Kolender, tells the story of his life from his boyhood in Bochnia, Poland, to the significance of the Holocaust Memorial in his adopted city of Charleston, South Carolina, where he and his wife, Renee, a fellow survivor, raised their children. He describes life in Bochnias Jewish ghetto after the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939, his captivity at Birkenau, Buna, and Auschwitz, evading selection for the gas chambers, being wounded in an Allied air attack, surviving a death march, escaping the Nazis, hiding in the Czech forest, working for an American army unit, and immigrating to America.
Caroline, Irvin, and Raymond Rosenblum reminisce about growing-up in Anderson, South Carolina, recalling their older siblings, relatives, neighbors, and Jewish religious observance. Their parents, Nathan and Freida Rosenblum, Polish immigrants, lived in several small South Carolina towns and Miami, Florida, before settling in Anderson in 1933. Caroline recounts her work history, and Irvin describes his eleven months in the navy at the end of World War II. Raymond served in the Naval Reserves while he attended medical school. Under the Berry Plan, his active duty was deferred until he completed his residency in urology.
Robert M. Zalkin grew up in Charleston during the Great Depression, a grandson of Lithuanian immigrant Robert (Glick) Zalkin, who opened Zalkin’s Kosher Meat and Poultry Market on King Street. Robert served in the army during World War II, earned an engineering degree from the University of South Carolina, and married Harriet Rivkin, whose father ran a delicatessen in Columbia.
Rose Louise Aronson was raised in Orangeburg, South Carolina, the great-granddaughter of Moritz Rich who, with his brother Lipman, emigrated from Prussia before the Civil War and settled successively in Charleston, St. Matthews, and Orangeburg. About 1890, her maternal grandfather, Louis Leopold Block, a German immigrant, joined the Hirsch brothers in their dry goods business in Camden. In the 1950s, Rose Louise was instrumental in organizing Temple Sinai, Orangeburg’s Jewish congregation.
Rose Rubin, daughter of Polish immigrants Sophie Halpern and Morris Rudnick, recounts stories about her family’s life in the Old Country and her parents’ immigration to New York. Sophie moved with her first husband, Ralph Panitz, to Aiken, South Carolina, for his health. The town had a reputation as a salubrious retreat for people with pulmonary problems. Morris followed his sister, Anne, who had married Solomon Surasky, to Aiken, where he married Sophie after she became widowed. Rose describes her mother’s awareness of the dangers of the Nazi regime and her efforts to convince family members to come to America, and discusses the history of “Happyville,” a Jewish farming community, established just outside of Aiken in 1905. Rose married former state senator Hyman Rubin of Columbia, South Carolina.
Ruth Kaye, born in 1913, grew up in Sumter, South Carolina, the granddaughter of Estonian immigrant, B. J. Barnett who fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War. The Barnetts became landowners and cotton farmers, and ran a general store. Ruth’s mother, Emma Klein, was born in Hungary and raised in Pennsylvania and New York. Ruth recounts her family history on both sides, and describes her visits with the New York Kleins.
Sam Kirshtein is the son of Polish immigrants who, like many of their landsmen from Kaluszyn, Poland, settled in Charleston, South Carolina, in the early 1900s. Sam, who was born in 1925 and grew up in the St. Philip Street neighborhood, describes the “Uptown” and “Downtown” Jews, and the two Orthodox synagogues, Brith Sholom and Beth Israel. After serving in the army’s Chemical Warfare Service during World War II, he returned home to help out at the family’s furniture store on King Street.
Sandra Garfinkel Shapiro grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, in the 1930s and 40s, the youngest of six children of Jewish immigrants from Divin, Russia. She recalls her childhood years, including her involvement with Young Judea, the African-American woman who worked for the Garfinkel family, and her fathers mattress business. She has donated her personal collection of genealogy books, photos, and ephemera to the Jewish Heritage Collection at the College of Charleston.
Sandra Goldberg Lipton discusses her family background including that of her father, Nathan Goldberg, and her maternal grandparents, Mendel and Esther Read Dumas. Nathan married the Dumas’s daughter, Lenora, and moved to Charleston, South Carolina. Sandra discusses their involvement in Emanu-El, Charleston’s Conservative synagogue. She married Morey Lipton, who talks about growing up in Beaufort, South Carolina, and Beth Israel Congregation where he attended Hebrew school.
Sarah Burgen Ackerman, the daughter of Polish immigrants, grew up in Montgomery, Alabama. She moved to Walhalla and, later, Fort Mill, South Carolina, after she married George Ackerman, a cantor and Hebrew teacher. The couple operated stores in both locations and raised four children.
Born in 1927, Sophia Marie Friedheim Beers was raised in the Protestant faith in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Her grandfather Arnold Friedheim, a German Jewish immigrant, settled in the town after the Civil War. His brother, Julius, followed him to Rock Hill and together they ran A. Friedheim and Brother. The department store, which supplied uniforms to Winthrop College students, closed its doors in 1964 after nearly a century in business. Sophia recounts the story of her cousins, the Schwartzes, who escaped Nazi Germany in 1938 and came to Rock Hill.
Sura Wolff Wengrow grew up in Allendale, South Carolina, in the first quarter of the twentieth century where her father, Henry Wolff, a German immigrant, ran a general merchandise store. In 1901, Henry married Rachel Pearlstine of Branchville, South Carolina. The family kept kosher and observed the holidays, but Sura did not receive a Jewish education, formal or otherwise. With no other Jewish families in town, she socialized, as a child, with gentiles and attended their church events, a pattern of assimilation she would repeat while living in Allendale during the early years of her marriage to Sam Wengrow of Beaufort, South Carolina. Longing for a connection to Judaism, and wanting her children to be involved in synagogue life, the Wengrows moved to Columbia when their oldest son was twelve. Note: This transcript appears to have been heavily edited with corrections, deletions, and additions by the interviewee and/or her son during proofing. Therefore, the transcript differs somewhat from the audio.
Sylvan and Meyer Rosen, brothers and natives of Georgetown, South Carolina, recall growing up in the coastal city and socializing regularly with gentiles. The Jewish congregation, Beth Elohim, too small to support a rabbi, received support from Charleston’s Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim. The brothers name of some of Georgetown’s Jewish families and provide background on their extended families, the Lewenthals, Weinbergs, and Rosens. Their father, Harry Rosen, and their uncle Albert Schneider, who married sisters Dora and Fannie Lewenthal, operated The New Store, which initially sold men’s and ladies’ clothing and later furniture and appliances. Besides practicing law in Georgetown, both men held political office—Sylvan as mayor and Meyer as a state legislator.
William Ackerman, the son of Hungarian immigrants, grew up in a small coal-mining town in Pennsylvania, with a community of about 35 Orthodox Jewish families who came from the same region of Hungary. He married Jennie Shimel of Charleston, South Carolina, and worked there as an attorney, joining her father, Louis Shimel, in his practice. He developed the suburban neighborhood and shopping center, South Windermere, and was a founder of the Conservative synagogue, Emanu-El.
Zerline Levy Williams Richmond and her children, Arthur Williams and Betty Gendelman, recount the Levy and Williams family histories, including Zerline’s mother’s stint as Charleston’s first female rice broker, and the Williamses’ kindergarten on George Street. The Williams family were members of Charleston’s Reform temple, Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim.
Rabbi Harvey Tattelbaum shared his memories in an address titled “Rabbinic Reminiscences of Beaufort” at the April 2005 meeting of the Jewish Historical Society of South Carolina held in Beaufort, South Carolina, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Beth Israel Congregation. His first pulpit, from 1960 to 1962, was the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina. While serving as chaplain for the recruits and their officers, he was hired to lead neighboring Beaufort’s Beth Israel Congregation. He also traveled weekly to Walterboro, South Carolina, to provide services for the members of Mount Sinai
Rabbi Harvey Tattelbaum delivered this speech titled “Struggling, Growing, Reaching New-Old Conclusions” at the April 2005 meeting of the Jewish Historical Society of South Carolina held in Beaufort, South Carolina, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Beth Israel Congregation. Rabbi Tattelbaum, who served Beth Israel from 1960 to 1962, describes his secular and religious education, and how reading Night, by Elie Wiesel, contributed to his “search for religious meaning.” He discusses his evolving concept of God and the “necessary challenge” of “spiritual uncertainty.”