Jewish Heritage Collection: Oral history interview with Harold Jacobs and Lillian Breen Jacobs

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Jewish Heritage Collection: Oral history interview with Harold Jacobs and Lillian Breen Jacobs
Rosengarten, Dale, 1948–
Jacobs, Harold, 1913–2009, Jacobs, Lillian Breen, 1915–2003
Harold Jacobs, the only child of Sam and Mignonette Cohen Jacobs, discusses his family history and growing up in Charleston, South Carolina. Sam’s father, Isaac Jacobs (Karesh) emigrated from the area of Europe described by Harold as eastern Germany or Prussia. (Isaac Jacobs, grandson of the aforementioned Isaac and Harold’s cousin, states in his account of the family origins in a 1995 interview that the Karesh/Jacobs family came from Trestina, near Bialystok, Poland.) Isaac, the immigrant, made his way to Cincinnati, Ohio, during the Civil War and joined the Union Army. He married Jeanette Slager, and the couple settled in Charleston where they ran a dry goods store on King Street. Sam, Mignonette, and Harold lived in the St. Philip Street neighborhood before moving to Hampton Park Terrace in the northwest section of Charleston, where they opened Harold’s Cabin, a small store that sold snowballs and a few convenience items. Harold describes the family’s holiday and Sabbath customs, his aunt and uncles on the Jacobs side, the differences between “uptown” and “downtown” Jews, and the expansion of the family business, including how he came to be one of the first merchants in Charleston to sell frozen foods. As a child, Harold attended services at Brith Sholom, the Orthodox synagogue in which his father was raised, and Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim (KKBE), where his mother, who was raised in the Reform tradition, was a member. Sometime after becoming a bar mitzvah at Brith Sholom, he began to “drift” more toward services at KKBE, ultimately becoming a lifelong member of the historic Charleston temple. Harold served in the army in North Africa and Italy during World War II and, after the war, married Lillian Breen, who grew up on a farm in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, where there were too few Jews for a congregation. Lillian’s parents were from Riga, Latvia, and they ran a furniture store in Rocky Mount. The family traveled to Fayetteville, North Carolina, for the High Holidays.
Jewish Heritage Collection Oral Histories
Contributing Institution:
College of Charleston Libraries
Media Type:
Oral Histories
Personal or Corporate Subject:
Jacobs, Harold, 1913–2009, Jacobs, Lillian Breen, 1915–2003, Karesh family, Jacobs family, Breen family, Evans family, Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim (Charleston, S.C.), Brith Sholom (Charleston, S.C.), Beth Israel (Charleston, S.C.), Aleph Zadik Aleph. Charleston Chapter
Topical Subject:
Jews--South Carolina--Interviews, Jews--South Carolina--Charleston--History, Jews--North Carolina--Rocky Mount--History, Jewish merchants--South Carolina--Charleston--History, Grocery trade--South Carolina--Charleston--History, Jewish sects--South Carolina--Charleston--History
Geographic Subject:
Shelving Locator:
MSS 1035-170
Internet Media Type:
audio/mpeg; application/pdf
Digitization Specifications:
Mp3 derivative audio created with Audacity software. Archival masters are wav files.
Copyright Status Statement:
Digital resource copyright 2012, The College of Charleston. All rights reserved. For more information contact The College of Charleston Library, Charleston, SC 29424.