Jewish Heritage Collection: Oral history interview with Helen Greher Kahn

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Jewish Heritage Collection: Oral history interview with Helen Greher Kahn
Rosengarten, Dale, 1948–, Grossman, Michael Samuel, Cockrell, Rita Ruth
Kahn, Helen Greher, 1915–2011
Helen Greher Kahn grew up in Columbia, South Carolina, two blocks from House of Peace, the Orthodox synagogue on Park Street. Her mother, Rebecca Cohen, a Polish immigrant, followed her sister to Wilmington, North Carolina. Helen’s father, Isaac Greher (Kerschbaum), came south after arriving in the United States from Austria-Hungary, and made a living by peddling between Charleston and Columbia. While in the capital city, he stayed with the Karesh family, headed by Rabbi David Karesh. The rabbi, who had served the Wilmington congregation before moving to Columbia, introduced Rebecca and Isaac. Helen recalls visiting the Kareshes regularly as a child, and notes that they were an important influence in her life. Karesh served as cantor for the House of Peace congregation, prepared the boys for their bar mitzvahs, visited the sick in the local hospitals, and slaughtered chickens at his work table in the Dent’s grocery store. Helen admired Helen Kohn Hennig, who ran the Sunday school classes at Tree of Life, the Reform synagogue. The Grehers were members of House of Peace, but because it lacked a Sunday school, Helen and her sister attended Mrs. Hennig’s classes. The interviewee touches on a number of subjects including Columbia’s Jewish families, the Columbia Jewish boys’ social organization, the Yudedum Club, and attending dances in Charleston and Folly Beach. Helen married Saul Kahn, also of Columbia, the son of Meyer B. Kahn, an immigrant whose car broke down in Columbia on his way from Florida to Ohio. He decided to stay, and he became successful in commercial construction. Helen contrasts the Orthodox traditions of her youth with those of the contemporary community, especially Beth Shalom’s (formerly House of Peace) Conservative congregation.
Jewish Heritage Collection Oral Histories
Contributing Institution:
College of Charleston Libraries
Media Type:
Oral Histories
Personal or Corporate Subject:
Kahn, Helen Greher, 1915–2011, Beth Shalom (Columbia, S.C.), Tree of Life (Columbia, S.C.), House of Peace (Columbia, S.C.), Karesh, David, 1878–1964, Kahn family, Greher family, Kerschbaum family, Cohen family, Yudedum Club (Columbia, S.C.)
Topical Subject:
Jews--South Carolina--Interviews, Jews--South Carolina--Columbia--History, Jews--South Carolina--Charleston--History, Jewish merchants--South Carolina--Columbia--History, Jews--South Carolina--Columbia--Social life and customs, Fort Jackson (Columbia, S.C.)--History
Geographic Subject:
Midlands, Lowcountry
Shelving Locator:
MSS 1035-138
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.