Berith Shalome, later called Brith Sholom, was organized circa 1854—the first Ashkenazic congregation in South Carolina and one of the first in the South. With membership primarily from Prussia and Poland, Berith Shalome was known as the “German and Polish,” or simply the “Polish” synagogue. The congregation continued meeting through the Civil War in rented quarters on St. Philip Street, out of range of Union shelling. In 1874, it began construction of its first permanent synagogue, a brick and wood structure at 68 St. Philip Street.

In 1911, a group of some 60 worshippers, many of them recent immigrants, judging Brith Sholom’s leadership insufficiently Orthodox, founded Beth Israel—also known as the Kalushiners’ Shul (since many were from the Kaluzsyn district of Poland), the Greeners’ Shul, or the Little Shul. They acquired a building three blocks north of Brith Sholom (known colloquially as the Big Shul) on St. Philip Street. In 1954, seven years after Conservative congregation Emanu-El was founded, Brith Sholom and Beth Israel worked out a merger. The Big Shul moved into the Little Shul’s Moorish synagogue on Rutledge Avenue, built in 1948, installing its historic ark and bimah in the new sanctuary and calling itself Brith Sholom Beth Israel, or BSBI.

By 2012, Charleston’s Orthodox community had split again, this time over the issue of whether to relocate the congregation to West Ashley, so that the growing congregant population in the suburbs would be able to walk to synagogue on the Sabbath. BSBI voted to remain downtown, with a satellite South Windermere minyan house, which had been in operation since 1965. Worshippers living west of the Ashley established a new, Orthodox congregation called Dor Tikvah, headquartered at the JCC.

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