Home page The Occident and American Jewish Advocate Jews in the Civil War Jews in the Wild West History of Palestine The Occident Virtual Library Shopping Mall of Zion AHAVA Hero Products 250x250

בס"ד

Consecration of the New Synagogue, Charleston, S.C.

This important event took place on Friday, 13th August, being Rosh Hodesh Elul; important indeed in its consequences, as it tends to reestablish on a sure and firm basis, the sacred worship in the Synagogue, and will frustrate the sacrilegious attempts to destroy the same in this city. It will teach those whose desire for changes and reform has driven a large majority of the Israelites of this city from that sacred edifice, endeared to them by having worshipped in it themselves and their ancestors, for nearly a century, that Judaism cannot be destroyed in Charleston, a city once so famous for true piety and strict adherence to ancient and sacred rites and forms. In this Synagogue no innovation will be permitted; the service will be conducted in the old established Portuguese Jewish Minhag, and in that holy language in which God spoke to Moses and to his people on Sinai. Nor will those sublime and beautiful Psalms of the great Jewish king and bard, David, be banished, to make room for new and modern compositions, so far inferior, and so little adapted to the praises of the Most High. In this Synagogue they believe in the coming of the Messiah, whenever it may please God to  redeem His people, will not be called in doubt, nor will the ancient forms be contemned, but on the contrary, they will be strictly adhered to.

Since the decision by the Court of Appeals of this state, depriving a large portion of our people of the privileges of the Hazel Street Synagogue (whether that decision was just or not, I am unable to decide), this congregation bowed to the decrees of God and the laws of the land, and worshipped the Lord according to the dictates of their consciences, in a small building hired for the purpose, during which time they had to struggle against many obstacles, before the happy event arrived, of their again assembling in a house built by themselves, and in which they could offer up their prayers unmolested. About six months ago the congregation contracted with Mr. D. L. Cohen, one of our own people, to erect a Synagogue, which was completed and dedicated to the service of the God of Israel on Friday last.

Desirous of avoiding unnecessary show and pomp, the congregation determined to have the consecration private, and, with the exception of three gentlemen, formerly trustees of this congregation, no person whatever was invited. We were therefore not a little surprised to see among the audience several members of the Hazel Street Congregation.

I regret that the task of giving a description of the ceremonies, did not fall into better and abler hands; but I will endeavour, as far as my feeble abilities will admit of, to describe the same.

The hour, 4 o’clock, p.m., having arrived, and a large assembly being present, the procession moved from the vestry room to the middle door of the Synagogue, which was kept closed to that period. The three Sepharim were carried by Messrs. Isaiah Moses, N. Nathans, and S.N. Hart, each Sepher accompanied by two members, followed by the reverend Hazan, Mr. Rosenfeldt, accompanied by Messrs. S. Hart, Sr., President, and M. Loovis, Vice-President, of the congregation. On arriving at the door, the Shofar was blown, and on knocking, the door was opened by Mr. Levy Moses. The reverend Hazan commenced singing, פתחו לי שערי צדק, and the choir took up the second verse, &c., זה שער לה' , during which the first circuit took place, and then carried on the Teba.

The Hazan then said the blessing, שהחינו, after that he proclaimed the unity of God, שמע ישראל, and then ה' מלך, both being repeated by the congregation.

The lighting of the Tamid then took place. Four Cohanim, Messrs. Jacob Cohen, Hartwig Cohen, H.C. Cohen, and D.D. Cohen, ascended the platform before the Hechal, carrying the old Tamid burning, and from which the new one was lighted, Mr. Hartwig Cohen saying the blessing, אשר קדשנו בקדשתו של אהרון, then the שהחינו, and closing with a suitable יהי רצון .

The choir then sang the ברוך הבא, and the second circuit was performed.

The Hazan then offered up an English prayer for this Congregation, a copy of which, as well as of the other prayers and the address, accompanying this.

The third and fourth circuit took place, to the choir singing the 111th Psalm, after which the usual Misheberach were made for this and other congregations.

The fifth circuit took place to the beautiful Psalm, הללו את יי כל גוים at the conclusion of which the Hanothen Teshunga was said, and the Hazan chaunted the 30th Psalm.

The sixth circuit followed to the surging of the 100th Psalm, after which a suitable prayer was offered up in English for the government of the United States, the State of South Carolina, and the city of Charleston.

The ימלוך יי followed, repeated by the Hazan and congregation, and the seventh and last circuit was performed, as usual, to the 29th Psalm, and the Sepharim were deposited in the new Hechal.

Then followed the offerings, many of which were liberal, when the Hazan, ou returning to the Teba, delivered a suitable, able, and eloquent address, which we listened to with much pleasure, and which gave great satisfaction to the members of this congregation.

The ceremonies concluded by the singing of Ane caylohanoo by the whole congregation.

It is impossible to describe the happy feeling that prevailed among the members of both sexes of this congregation. Dressed in their holyday garments, the pleasing faces of the sons, and the smiles of the daughters of Israel, nay, even the rejoicings of the children, bore evidence that all felt happy to be once more in their own house of worship. The ladies and gentlemen composing the choir did credit to the cause, and harmony and decorum prevailed during the ceremonies, and the different Psalms were beautifully sung by the choir, who had been ably instructed by Mr. Mitchell. Tears, yes, tears of joy, flowed from many an eye, and grateful hearts overflowed to the God of Israel, by whose Divine aid we were enabled to dedicate this house to his worship. All felt happy, and a ninety years old and highly respectable lady, unable to walk, rode to the Synagogue, and gladdened many by her presence. Nor was this all. Liberal offerings and donations were made, particularly by the ladies. With a spirit worthy of imitation, they collected a large fund, and furnished rich satin damask draperies for the Sepharim, Hechal, and Teba, and also splendid carpeting for the two latter. The teachers of the Sunday School presented a handsome Italian marble slab, for the Ten Commandments, which was cut and gilt in a splendid style, by Mr. J. Bensadon, a member of the congregation. A beautiful silver Pointer was presented by Mr. A. Delbanco; also a splendid lamp for the Tamid was given by the young gentlemen; and a truly Jewish feeling prevailed in the whole congregation. But as no happiness can be complete on this earth, many tears were shed for the loss of that house in which we formerly worshipped; but we trust that the God of Israel will protect this congregation, and glorify this, the latter house, just built, over the first of which we were deprived.

S.V.