Jewish Heritage Collection: Oral history interview with Max Kirshstein

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Jewish Heritage Collection: Oral history interview with Max Kirshstein
Rosenblum, Sandra Lee Kahn, Rosenblum, Raymond
Kirshstein, Max, 1919-2009
Max Kirshstein relates the experiences of his father, Nathan, and uncle, Abe, natives of Kaluszyn, Poland, who immigrated to the United States in 1920 to avoid conscription into the Polish army. They followed their three sisters to Charleston, South Carolina. Nathan’s wife, Sarah Ingberman, and their two sons, Yankel and Max, both born in Sarah’s hometown of Laskarzew, Poland, joined him in Charleston a year later. Max credits Sam Rittenberg with helping newly-arrived immigrants and notes that Etta Gaeser was one of several teachers who provided instruction in English. Nathan, who peddled to support the family, which had grown to include three more children, died in 1930, when Max was only ten years old. After graduating from Murray Vocational School in 1936, Max took a job in Isadore and Dave Solomon’s pawn shop on King Street. Four years later, Ben Barkin offered him a position as an administrative assistant in Aleph Zadik Aleph’s (AZA) Washington office. Two and a half years at the national headquarters “changed the whole course of my life, my thinking, and everything else.” While serving in the navy during World War II, Max continued his association with AZA as an advisor for Virginia’s Tidewater chapters. After the war he returned to Charleston and, in addition to his advising duties, he became the first chairman of AZA’s southern region, and, later, helped to organize a new local chapter to accommodate the growing number of Baby Boomer teens. In 1946 Max opened Metropolitan Credit Company, which he renamed Metropolitan Furniture Company. A year later he married Sylvia Lazarus and together they raised three children. Max touches on the antisemitism he experienced growing up, the breakaway of a number of Brith Sholom members to form Emanu-El, Charleston’s Conservative synagogue, and the merger of the two Orthodox congregations, Brith Sholom and Beth Israel. Note: comments on the transcript made by Larry Iskow, the interviewee’s son-in-law, are in brackets with his initials.
Jewish Heritage Collection Oral Histories
Contributing Institution:
College of Charleston Libraries
Media Type:
Oral Histories
Personal or Corporate Subject:
Aleph Zadik Aleph. Charleston Chapter--History, Aleph Zadik Aleph. Washington Chapter--History, Brith Sholom (Charleston, S.C.), Beth Israel (Charleston, S.C.), Emanu-El Synagogue (Charleston, S.C.)
Topical Subject:
Jews--South Carolina--Interviews, Jews--Immigrants--United States--History, Jewish merchants--South Carolina--Charleston--History, Antisemitism--South Carolina--Charleston--History
Shelving Locator:
MSS 1035-217
S.C. County:
Charleston County (S.C.)
Internet Media Type:
audio/mpeg, application/pdf
Digitization Specifications:
Mp3 derivative audio created with Audacity software. Archival masters are wav files.
Preferred Citation:
Max Kirshstein, audio interview by Sandra Lee Kahn Rosenblum and Raymond Rosenblum, 02 September 1999, Mss 1035-217, Special Collections, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC, USA.
Copyright Status Statement:
Digital resource copyright 2013, College of Charleston. All rights reserved. For more information contact Special Collections, Addlestone Library, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC 29424.