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.
Morris Mazursky, audio interview by Dale Rosengarten and Robert A. Moses, 9 February 1995, Mss-1035-006, Special Collections, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC, USA.;Morris Mazursky, who grew up in Sumter, South Carolina, recounts his father Abe Mazursky’s emigration in 1909 from Kobrin, Russia. Abe lived briefly in New York City before moving to Barnwell, South Carolina, home of his uncle Barney Mazursky, who hired him to work in his store. Abe soon moved to Mayesville, South Carolina, to help out in his cousin’s store, and later operated a dry goods business there with the help of wealthy lien merchant Henry Weinberg. When Abe and Henry’s partnership ended, Abe established his own store, The Beehive, also in Mayesville. Rabbi David Karesh of Columbia introduced Abe to his future wife, Mary Blatt, the daughter of Austrian immigrants Morris and Mamie Blatt, who had settled in Charleston in the late 1800s. Abe and Mary married in 1919 and moved with their two children, Helen and Morris, to Sumter four years later, where Abe had just opened another store called The Hub. Morris received his law degree from the University of South Carolina and worked with the firm Lee & Moise before starting his own practice in his hometown. He was elected to Sumter City Council in 1958 and served for twenty-eight years. With input from interviewer Robert Moses, also a Sumter native, Morris discusses the impact that segregation and poverty had on African Americans in the community, the effects of integration on the school system, and how the city upheld the provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In addition, the two men recall Sumter’s efforts to improve its economic base by attracting industry and note the decline of Temple Sinai’s congregation as the area’s Jewish population dwindled. Morris describes how he met his wife Marcia Weisbond Mazursky—they, like his parents, were married by Rabbi Karesh—and talks about their three children.