The Jewish Historical Society of South Carolina (JHSSC) was founded in 1994 as a result of a panel discussion at the College of Charleston. The topic under discussion was small town Jewish life in South Carolina and the conclusions the panelists reached were inescapable: Jewish life in South Carolina's small towns is rapidly disappearing and the people who remember it are passing from the scene. The only way to preserve living memories of this once vital element of the Jewish Diaspora was to start recording them immediately.
The Historical Society was organized to encourage the study and interpretation of South Carolina Jewish history and to increase awareness of that heritage among Jews and non-Jews. The Society holds two meetings a year, one a large gathering in Charleston or Columbia, the other a regional event in a smaller town. Historian Dale Rosengarten and a dedicated corps of volunteers have recorded some 300 oral histories pertaining to South Carolina Jewish life and culture. Project staff have been compiling an extensive manuscript archives, including records of families, businesses, synagogues, and Jewish organizations. The archives already contain hundreds of manuscripts, historical photographs, genealogical records, and fieldwork files.
Martin Perlmutter and Harriet Keyserling
The Society's major research initiative has been the Jewish Heritage Collection, sponsored by the College of Charleston and housed in the Special Collections Department at the marlene and Nathan Addlestone Library. The project's Web site contains an easy guide to the oral history archives and topically-organized excerpts from the interviews. Artifacts, photographs, and audio segments from the collection are featured in "...A Portion of the People": Three Hundred Years of Jewish Life in South Carolina, a museum exhibition co-sponsored by the McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina. Starting in February 2003, the exhibit was at Yeshiva University’s Center for Jewish History for six months. It then opened at the Levine Museum of the New South in Charlotte, NC on September 14, 2003.
In October 2008, JHSSC held a Genealogy Workshop to help members search for their ancestors. Click Links to find sites to help you with your search for your ancestors. In November 2008, JHSSC erected its first historical marker in Columbia, SC to commemmorate Columbia's First Synagogue and Israelite Sunday School.
In May 2009, JHSSC erceted its 2nd historical marker honoring Temple Sinai in Sumter SC. In October 2009, JHSSC held its Annual Meeting in conjunction with the 25th Anniversary of the Yaschik/Arnold Jewish Studies Program at the College of Charleston.
Our May 2010 meeting was in Bluffton where a Synagogue Oseh Shalom was established in 2006. Our November meeting was held in Anderson.
May 2011 JHSSC joined with The Yaschik/ Arnold Jewish Studies to hold a three day symposium on Jews, Slavery, and the Civil War. On October 28-30, JHSSC held its annual meeting with the Southern Jewish Historical Society (SJHS) in Columbia.
The May 2012 meeting, held in Charleston, was To Heal the World, Jewish South Carolinians in Public Service. There were wonderful panelists and keynote speaker. Robert Rosen and Judge Richard Gergel gave a compact history of the Jews in South Carolina.
Click on History of Jews in SC to hear this talk along with an introduction by Rachel Gordin Barnett.
In the past, the Jewish Historical Society of South Carolina has met in Abbeville, Sumter, Columbia, Greenville, Beaufort, Florence, Georgetown, Bluffton, Anderson, and Camden, averaging well over 100 registrants at both annual and regional meetings. In 2002, the society passed the 500 person membership mark. JHSSC is the largest state-wide Jewish Organization in South Carolina.
Sylvia Vlosky Yaschik Jewish Studies Center
96 Wentworth Street
Charleston, SC 29424
843 953 3918
Copyright © 2012 The Jewish Historical Society of South Carolina