Abraham Azuby

Beresford (now Fulton) Street

A pious peacemaker

Abraham Azuby (1738–1805), a native of Amsterdam, was hired as hazanA cantor or prayer leader in a synagogue. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when there were few ordained rabbis in the United States, congregations often were led by hazanim, who were commonly referred to as “Reverend.”  of Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim shortly after his arrival in Charleston in 1784. A schism was healed during his leadership, when the Sephardic families who had formed a separate congregation, Unveh Sholom, returned to Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim, controlled by Ashkenazim.Jews from Central and Eastern Europe, distinguished from the Sephardim by their religious rituals, customs, foods, and pronunciation of Hebrew. It was a time of cooperation and growth: the Hebrew Benevolent Society (1784) and Hebrew Orphan Society (1801) were organized in his era; the State of South Carolina granted KKBE a corporate charter in 1791; and the congregation dedicated its new synagogue building on Hasell Street in 1794.

The lives of Azuby and his wife, Esther (1754–1805), were marked by constancy and community respect, but like many others in the rapidly growing city, they moved frequently. In 1790, they lived on Beresford’s (today Fulton) Street, a diverse neighborhood of houses, shops, and bakeries; in 1796, the “High Priest of the Jewish Synagogue” had relocated to King Street, not far from the synagogue; and, by 1801, the Azubys were on Hasell Street. Abraham Azuby died in February 1805 and was eulogized by the Carolina Gazette as “possessing every qualification requisite to the proper discharge of his clerical duties, … the holy office of serving God! Each moment of existence to that of his dissolution, proved him amply deserving of the sacred place he held; and his piety became, if possible, more exemplary, the closer he approached eternity!” His widow died just three months later. Azuby was succeeded as hazan by Jacob Suares (1755–1818).

Gravesite of Abraham Azuby (1738–1805)

Gravesite of Abraham Azuby (1738–1805)

Coming Street Cemetery. Photo by Stephane Grauzam, ca. 2015. Courtesy of Jewish Historical Society of South Carolina.