South Carolina Department of Archives and History
National Register Properties in South Carolina

Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim Synagogue, Charleston County (90 Hasell St., Charleston)
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(Beth Elohim Synagogue) Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim possesses national significance as the birthplace, in 1824, of Reform Judaism in America. Originated by German Jews in the early 1800s, the Reform Movement spread rapidly through central Europe and to the United States, where it led to radical changes in Jewish doctrine during the remainder of the 19th century. The influx of German, Austrian, and Bavarian Jews that began in 1836 and continued into the 1890s was a major factor in the success of American Reform. Thus Beth Elohim’s pioneering role is accentuated both because the reform group arose within an Orthodox and mainly Sephardic community and because it antedated the first large-scale Ashkenazic immigration by more than a decade. Congregation Beth Elohim, established in 1749, is the nation’s fourth oldest Jewish community. Its present house of worship, a fine Greek Revival structure, erected in 1840, is the second oldest synagogue extant in the country and the oldest in continuous use. Listed in the National Register April 4, 1978; Designated a National Historic Landmark June 19, 1980.

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