Cohen Family

Broad Street

A close-knit family of reformers

Residence of Hyam Cohen (1788–1850) and his wife, Esther Moses Moïse (1784–1860), who was the widow of Cherie Moïse (1721–1823). Cohen, a broker and auctioneer, was appointed the City of Charleston’s Assessor in about 1837.

In 1832, Cordelia Moïse (1810–1869), Esther’s daughter by her first marriage (and the niece of Penina Moïse, the poet, and Abraham Moïse II, a leader of the reform movement) married Philip M. Cohen (1808–1879), a pharmacist. Showing the complicated network of intermarriage among Charleston’s Jewish families, Philip Cohen was the nephew of Cordelia’s stepfather Hyam Cohen. Both men were among the signers of the petition to install an organTwo years after the devastating 1838 fire, members of Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim circulated a document advocating for the installation of an organ in the new synagogue, then under construction. The move was supported by hazan Gustavus Poznanski and reform-inclined congregants who wanted to enjoy instrumental music in synagogue worship. It was opposed by those who held to the traditional prohibition of instrumental music on the Sabbath. The “organ faction” won the day and the traditionalists left to form their own congregation, Shearit Israel. at Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim in 1840. City directories show the younger couple living with their extended family here on Broad Street during the mid-1830s.

By 1841, both Cohen couples had moved to Tradd Street along with Philip’s two brothers, Augustus Philip Cohen (1810–1882) and Lawrence Ludlow Cohen (1815–1847), whose wife was Miriam Louisa DeLeon (1822–1869). Like their uncle and older brother, Augustus and Lawrence also identified as reformers.