Jewish Heritage Collection: Oral history interview with Robert Moses

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Jewish Heritage Collection: Oral history interview with Robert Moses
Rosengarten, Dale, 1948-, Moses, Elizabeth
Moses, Robert, 1921-
In this follow-up to his August 16, 2013 interview, Robert Altamont Moses shares his memories of Temple Sinai in his hometown of Sumter, South Carolina. He recalls some of the rabbis who served the Reform congregation, such as Samuel Shillman, Avshalom Magidovitch, J. Aaron Levy, Milton Schlager, and Robert Seigel. Although Temple Sinai is listed on the National Register of Historic Places in South Carolina, Moses worries about what will happen to the building, the stained glass windows in particular, when the congregation is no longer viable. He discusses the windows in the sanctuary; the renovations that took place in the 1960s; activities of the sisterhood in past decades; and the decline in the number of members over the last fifteen to twenty years. Robert believes intermarriage is partly responsible for the decrease in the size of the congregation. He notes that Sumter Jews have been fully accepted and have largely assimilated into mainstream society. Jewish family names mentioned during the interview are Strauss, Moise, Lyon, and Kaye. Ira Kaye and his wife, Sumter native Ruth Barnett Kaye (see their interviews dated June 14 and 15, 1996), were close friends of the Moses family. Ira's work as a lawyer on civils rights issues in Sumter in the 1950s and '60s alienated many of Ira's colleagues and fellow Jews. Wanting to overcome society's "stone wall of inbred discrimination," Robert and his first wife, Harriett Pace, tried to lead their children by example in treating black people as they would white. Elizabeth, his youngest daughter and co-interviewer, was raised, like her siblings, in the Catholic Church, Harriett's chosen religion. Robert reveals his feelings about raising the children in the Catholic Church and Elizabeth's conversion to Judaism as an adult. Following Harriett's death, Robert married Clara Gayness - also present for the interview - who, like Harriett, converted to Catholicism. For related information see the August 7, 1999 interview with Robert's brother Richard Moses and August 19, 2013 interview with Robert's sister Mary Octavia Moses Mahon. Special Collections, Addlestone Library, College of Charleston, is the repository for Moses family photographs and papers.
Jewish Heritage Collection Oral Histories
Contributing Institution:
College of Charleston Libraries
Media Type:
Oral Histories
Personal or Corporate Subject:
Temple Sinai (Sumter, S.C.)
Topical Subject:
Jews--South Carolina--Sumter--Interviews, Intermarriage--South Carolina--Sumter, Jews--South Carolina--Sumter--Cultural assimilation, African Americans--South Carolina--Sumter--Relations with Jews, Race discrimination--South Carolina--Sumter--History, Civil rights--South Carolina--Sumter--History
Shelving Locator:
MSS 1035-376
S.C. County:
Sumter 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:
Robert Moses, audio interview by Dale Rosengarten and Elizabeth Moses, 17 August 2013, Mss 1035-376, Special Collections, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC, USA.
Copyright Status Statement:
© College of Charleston Libraries
Access Information:
For more information contact Special Collections, Addlestone Library, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC 29424.