Hebrew Orphan Society

88 Broad Street

An historic benevolent organization

Incorporated as Abi Yetomin Ubne Ebyonim, or Society for Relief of Orphans and Children of Indigent Parents, Charleston’s Hebrew Orphan Society was founded in 1801 to provide assistance to widows, orphans, and the children of poor parents. In 1833, the corporation bought this building, formerly the Bank of the United States. Rather than house orphans in the facility, the Society offered financial assistance to families who would care for orphans in their homes, and subsidized the tuition (for example, in Isaac Harby’s school) of children whose parents could not afford to pay. Other Jewish orphans were sometimes housed in the City Orphan House on Calhoun Street and were sent to Jewish homes on holidays such as Passover.

After the April 1838 Fire destroyed Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim’s synagogue and before its new sanctuary was completed in 1841, the Orphan Society building was used as a place of worship. During the mid-1830s and early 1840s, Frances Phillips Goldsmith (1790–1848), the widow of Isaac M. Goldsmith, occupied the upper floors as her residence.

Record of tuition payment

Record of tuition payment

Isaac Harby’s academy cash book, recording tuition paid for five children by the Hebrew Orphan Society, 1819–1820.
Hebrew Orphan Society Constitution, 1867

Hebrew Orphan Society Constitution, 1867

88 Broad Street, 2016

88 Broad Street, 2016

Nineteenth-century location of the Hebrew Orphan Society. Photo by Jack Alterman.