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275th Milestones Shaping the Peninsula

November 7 @ 10:30 am - 11:30 am


As the second oldest membership library in the United States dating to 1748, it is quite special to have recently celebrated 275 years of continuous operations, and even more special to have the opportunity to share another’s this year. Founded in 1749, and designated as a National Landmark in 1980, the KKBE at 90 Hasell Street is one of the oldest congregations in continuous use for Jewish worship in America. In celebration of this monumental milestone, join us and Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim to reflect on 275 years of history, learning about the deep overlap shared between our two historic institutions, people and critical events during the American Revolution, that have shaped aspects of the culture on the Peninsula for almost three centuries.

Attendance is Free with RSVP, Please register below.

About KKBE

Founded in 1749, The KKBE or Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim, (Holy Congregation House of God) is known as the birthplace of American Reform Judaism and holds a rich heritage in which all American Jews can take pride. Charleston was founded in 1670, with the earliest known reference to a Jew in the English settlement dated 1695. Soon after many others followed, attracted by the civil and religious liberty of South Carolina and the ample economic opportunity of the colony. The group had grown significantly by 1749 to organize the present congregation, Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim, followed fifteen years later with the establishment of the now historic Coming Street Cemetery, the oldest surviving Jewish burial ground in the South.

When George Washington became President of the United States of America, there were six Jewish congregations in the new American Republic. Three were located in Northern cities: Newport, Rhode Island’s Yeshuat Israel (Touro), New York’s Shearith Israel, and Philadelphia’s Michveh Israel. Three were located in the South: Richmond, Virginia’s Beth Shalome, Savannah, Georgia’s Mickve Israel, and Charleston’s own Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim. At first, prayers were recited in private quarters and, from 1775, in an improvised synagogue adjacent to the present-day grounds. In 1792, construction of the largest and most impressive synagogue in the United States commenced, and it was dedicated just two years later. A member of the visiting Lafayette’s entourage is reported to have described the building as “spacious and elegant.” This handsome, cupolated Georgian synagogue was destroyed in the great Charleston fire of 1838 and replaced in 1840 by the structure in use today. The colonnaded building was dedicated in early 1841, and is often described as one of the country’s finest examples of Greek Revival architecture. On this occasion, KKBE’s Reverend Gustavus Poznanski was moved to say, “This synagogue is our Temple, this city our Jerusalem, and this happy land our Palestine.


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November 7
10:30 am - 11:30 am


Charleston Library Society
164 King Street
Charleston, SC 29401 United States
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