July 14, 2020 Great American Jewish Cities #11: The American South Part I

With a foray into the south, we examine the stories of some great Jewish communities south of the Mason-Dixon line. Charleston, South Carolina is home to one of the oldest Jewish communities stretching back to colonial times. In the Antebellum South, it achieved renown as the largest Jewish community in the United States for many years. Charleston has the distinction of being the home of the oldest continuous Orthodox Ashkenazi Shul in America, along with being the home of the origins of Reform Judaism on that side of the Atlantic. The city was to play a central role in the Civil War, which was a war which had far reaching ramifications for Jews in other areas of the south as well. Nearby Savannah has a colonial era history as well with Sephardic Jews arriving in the 18th century. Polish Jews established an Orthodox community before the Civil War, and generations of the Garfunkel family played a role in the community's development with some impressive Rabbinical figures having served there. We wrap up with Memphis, where we meet Rabbis Efraim & Nota Greenblatt, Refael Grossman, Meir Belsky and many others. Elvis makes an appearance as well on this journey down south.

 

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You can email Yehuda at yehuda@yehudageberer.com