Adath Yeshurun in Aiken, South Carolina, celebrated its 75th anniversary on May 4, 1996. Presentations by Sunday school students and performances by guest singer Gloria Greenbaum and the men’s chorus were followed by a series of speakers who shared their memories of the Jewish community and congregation, as well as histories of some of Aiken’s early Jewish families—Efron, Franzblau, Persky, Panitz, Polier, Rudnick, Sawilowsky, Schneider, Surasky, and Wolf. Other subjects of discussion included the Sons of Israel Cemetery, the murder of Abraham Surasky, and a short-lived Jewish farming association established in nearby Montmorenci in 1905, dubbed “Happyville” by its promoters.
Rose Surasky Seldin, born in 1917, and her sister-in-law Evelyn Goodman Surasky Caplan, born in 1918, describe growing up in Aiken, South Carolina. Rose’s parents, Annie Sarah Rudnick and Solomon Surasky, emigrated from Knyszyn, Poland, joining his brothers and brother-in-law H. L Polier in Aiken. The interviewees recall the family businesses, including Augusta Polier’s lingerie shop and millinery. Augusta was married to Morris Polier, Evelyn’s grandfather. When Augusta died, Evelyn’s mother, Rebecca Polier Goodman, took over the store. Rose and Evelyn discuss several family members, in particular, Rose’s first cousin, Mina Surasky Tropp. Among the topics covered: prejudice; keeping kosher; the Jewish farming community called “Happyville,” established in 1905 by its promoters in nearby Montmorenci; and how locals responded to and were affected by the building of the Savannah River Plant in the early 1950s.