Unveh Sholom

Fulton Street, Charleston

Site of worship of a short-lived congregation

When Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim (KKBE) was organized in 1749, Charleston’s Jewish community followed the Sephardic minhag, the liturgy of the dominant early settlers—people of Spanish or Portuguese descent who had emigrated from London, Amsterdam, and the West Indies. It is not certain when several of these families withdrew and organized a separate congregation, Beth Elohim Unveh Sholom (House of the Lord and Mansion of Peace). There had been rifts in the congregation before the American Revolution, but the population seems to have been too small to sustain two synagogues, particularly during the years 1780 through 1782 when the British occupied Charleston. Nevertheless, it is known that in August 1783, when KKBE was well-established on Hasell Street, there was a synagogue in “Dutch Town” (the area north of St. John’s Lutheran Church, encompassing today’s Clifford, Fulton, and Princess streets) and, in 1786, the upper part of a building owned by Anthony Jankoffsky (aka Anthony Jan Koffsky) on the north side of Beresford’s (Fulton) Street was the synagogue “for the Portuguese Jews Congregation.” Also in that year, 1786, the congregation laid the foundation for a wall around their burying ground in Hampstead (known today as DaCosta Cemetery, for Isaac DaCosta who was buried there in 1783).

Abraham AzubyhazanA 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 KKBE, had a gift for organizational leadership, and Unveh Sholom’s members eventually rejoined KKBE, probably before 1791 when the congregation was legally incorporated.