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May 16, 2022

Congregation Beth Elohim

Did you know that the largest Jewish community in the United States was once located not in New York or Boston, but in Charleston, South Carolina? 1800 Charleston was home to about a fourth of America’s Jewish population. The constitutional charter of Carolina protected religious liberties for Jews and other non-Christians. Jews flocked to Charleston from European countries and other American colonies where they were persecuted. The Jews of Charleston were innovative in their relationship to the Bible. The Congregation Beth Elohim, founded in 1749, experimented with different forms of worship. In the 1820s, a group split off from the larger congregation in order to implement new reforms such as gatherings to discuss the weekly Torah reading in English.

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