Abe Dumas was born on Sullivan's Island, South Carolina, in 1913, to Esther Read and Mendel Dumas, who emigrated from Lithuania in the first decade of the twentieth century. The couple followed Esther's brother Frank Read, who had settled in Moncks Corner, South Carolina. Mendel joined Frank in his mercantile store, until he opened his own business in nearby Bonneau. In this interview, Abe describes his father's dedication to making a living in America. Besides maintaining the Bonneau enterprise, Mendel invested in land for timber and farming, and opened stores in Charleston, South Carolina. In 1912, he and Frank Read built a five and dime store on the corner of King and Spring streets. Three years later, they parted company and Mendel bought a pawn shop at 220 King Street. By 1918, he had moved Esther and their five children (Lenora, Mary, twins Abe and Joe, and Yetta) to Charleston. "He knew," Abe reports, "that he could not raise a Jewish family in Bonneau." The Dumases were members of Brith Sholom, one of two Orthodox synagogues in Charleston. Abe notes the family was not very observant, although he and his brother celebrated their bar mitzvahs. The interviewee recalls how he and Joe began peddling around age twelve and began working in Mendel's Charleston store at sixteen, while their father commuted to Bonneau. They loved the work but didn't care for the pawn shop business in particular. In 1930, they switched to clothing and were very successful, which Abe attributes to carrying uniforms and hunting apparel. "Then when we moved to King and Society, we had there one of the largest operations of men's and family clothing in the city of Charleston. And it still is." Abe discusses growing up in Charleston, and the subtle antisemitism he observed in his early years. He remembers "divisiveness" between the Reform and Orthodox congregations, but says it no longer exists since an "economic level of parity or better came into existence." He attended the College of Charleston and, in 1936, married Dorothea "Dottie" Shimel Dumas. They had two children, Lynn and Carol. Abe reflects on what Americans knew about the Holocaust during World War II and the failure of the United States and other countries to assist Jewish refugees. Dumas tells the story of meeting George Gershwin in 1933 on Folly Beach, while Gershwin was in the area collaborating with DuBose Heyward on Porgy and Bess. For a related oral history, see the 1996 interview with Joseph Read, Mss. 1035-090. For a related collection, see the Louis M. Shimel papers, Mss. 1055. Although mentioned only briefly in this interview, the Dumases were founding members of Synagogue Emanu-El; see Mss. 1141 for the congregation records.
Mary Ann Pearlstine Aberman, the elder of two daughters of Milton Alfred Pearlstine and Cecile Mayer Pearlstine, provides some background on her mother’s family the Mayers, whose ancestors arrived in the United States from Bavaria in the early 1800s, and her father’s family, the Pearlstines, who emigrated from Germany to South Carolina in the mid-1800s. Born in Charleston, South Carolina, she describes growing up in the Hampton Park Terrace neighborhood of Charleston, next door to her first cousins. The family did not keep kosher but they did observe Shabbat by lighting candles before dinner and attending Friday night services at the Reform synagogue, Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim (KKBE). She remembers that Jewish Citadel cadets were invited to join members of Charleston’s Jewish community for worship and holiday observances; they even taught Sunday school. She met her husband, Edward Aberman of Rock Hill, when he was attending The Citadel. Mary Ann reviews some of her father’s civic contributions to the Charleston area, particularly his involvement in the South Carolina State Ports Authority, and she recalls Pearlstine family involvement in Brith Sholom and KKBE. She also briefly discusses the founding of Emanu-El, the Conservative congregation, in 1947, noting that KKBE lost some of its members to Emanu-El at that time. Mary Ann is joined in this interview by Edward Aberman. See also Edward’s interview on the same date (Mss. 1035-221), the Abermans’ interview with fellow Rock Hill, South Carolina, residents Jack Leader, Harriet Marshall Goode, and Martin Goode on September 21 , 1999 (Mss. 1035-218), and an interview with Rock Hill native Sophia Marie Friedheim Beers (Mss. 1035-220).
In this follow-up to their June 23, 2016, interview (Mss. 1035-452), Ira and Anita Rosenberg talk about their children and grandchildren and how they observed Judaism as a family when the children were growing up. Ira notes that he was a co-founder of Dragon Boat Charleston, served on the boards of Charleston Jewish Community Center and Charleston Jewish Federation, and is a past president of Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim. He discusses the benefits of Jewish community centers, his thoughts on the recent transition of the local center to one without walls, and his feelings about the presence of Chabad in the area.
In this second of a two-part interview, Anita Moise Rosefield Rosenberg describes her career after graduating from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She first took a job as music director at WPTF radio in Raleigh, North Carolina. When she and her husband, Ira Rosenberg, moved to Charleston, South Carolina, in the 1960s, she went to work at WKTM radio, owned by her cousin Ansley Cohen, selling advertising spots, and doing whatever else was needed. Anita notes that working at WKTM was exciting because it was FM, which "was coming into its own," and it was "Charleston's first rock station." After a few years, she went into "the advertising agency world" and was active in the local professional association, Advertising Federation of Charleston, and the national association, American Advertising Federation, which recognized her work with their Silver Medal Award. One of her clients was Pearlstine Distributors, who hired her to run its marketing and advertising department. Anita talks about other jobs she held and the various types of work she did in advertising. "Just every different avenue of this profession has been fun and interesting, and very rewarding to do." In Charleston, the interviewee has been involved in numerous Jewish and non-Jewish community organizations and events as part of her professional work and her personal commitment to giving back. She recounts how she met her husband, Ira, the son of Bessie Lipschutz and Alan Rosenberg. "Two different worlds met each other." Ira's parents, Orthodox Jews from New York, raised him in Richmond, Virginia. Anita grew up in Sumter, South Carolina, in a Reform temple. Anita and Ira's three children are David, Virginia, and Mindelle. Anita discusses how and why she and Ira were able to adopt Virginia in 1967 as an infant. The Rosenberg family belonged to Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim (KKBE), Charleston's Reform synagogue. The interviewee talks about her children and grandchildren. Her son, David, and his wife, Marcie, are members of the relatively new Modern Orthodox Dor Tikvah in Charleston. Anita and Ira started keeping kosher years ago?something they did not do while raising their children?to accommodate family members who are kosher. Anita considers how practices have changed at KKBE: they have their first female rabbi and their first gay rabbi; the revised prayer books have English and Hebrew with transliterations and translations; the cantor's role has expanded and is more inclusive. She says, "Conservative and Reform are moving closer to each other in today's world," and adds "from a historical point of view, the ancestors were Sephardic Orthodox Jews who settled here. That's my beginnings. So I don't feel like this is so strange, it's just a part of who I am." Anita briefly covers a number of other topics, including KKBE's past rabbis; its present-day choir; how the influx of people from other states has changed the congregation; the current status of Charleston's Jewish congregations and how/why they get along so well; her opinion about the presence of Chabad in the area; Jewish-gentile relations; and her thoughts on the Temple Sinai Jewish History Center in her hometown of Sumter. In a postscript to this interview, Anita recalls Alfreda LaBoard of Johns Island, the African-American woman who "was our nursie" from the time the Rosenberg kids were small. "She raised my children. I could never have done all the things that I did in the community, as well as Ira and I both busy with our careers, if it hadn't been for Alfreda." Comments and corrections made by the interviewee during proofing have been added to the transcript. For part one of this interview, see Mss. 1035-554. For related interviews, see Anita's interviews with her husband Ira Rosenberg, Mss. 1035-452 and Mss. 1035-461, and with her son, David Rosenberg, Mss. 1035-175. Also see a 1995 interview with her mother, Virginia Moise Rosefield, Mss. 1035-007.
David Moise Rosenberg is joined by his mother, Anita Moise Rosefield Rosenberg, in this interview, recorded in his place of business, West Side Deli, in Charleston, South Carolina. Keeping kosher is the focus of the conversation, a practice that was not observed in the family home when David was growing up in the 1960s and '70s. The Rosenbergs were members of Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim (KKBE) in Charleston, which David describes as a "very liberal Reform temple." During his college years, he "had no interest in religion of any sort." His wife, Marcie, who grew up in a Conservative synagogue and wanted to keep kosher, sparked his interest in Judaism. David, a restaurateur, and Marcie, a chef, bought Alex and Lila Lash's kosher meat business and, in January 1992, opened West Side Deli, a market, restaurant, and delicatessen. David talks about their clientele?who they are, and who, among Charleston's Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Jews, are keeping kosher. David explains why he and Marcie think it's important to keep a kosher home, a process that was gradual for them, and he responds to the question, "how [do] you fit being observant in with being religious?" Anita, who grew up in Sumter, South Carolina, in the 1940s and '50s, and received a Classical Reform education at Temple Sinai, notes that she knew "absolutely nothing" about keeping kosher as a child. Her mother's ancestors can be traced in America to the 1700s; the family had been in Sumter for generations and were fully adapted to local foodways. When she was growing up, Anita's family "ate everything." Yet she describes a "very strong Jewish upbringing" and her deep involvement with KKBE, the Jewish Community Center, and other Jewish organizations. She does not keep kosher, but says, "I don't eat anything that walked on four legs." Anita discusses the family history of her husband, Ira Rosenberg, and his preferences in regard to kashrut. She sees that Reform Jews, nationwide, are becoming more traditional. "I think, probably, if Reform had been at the particular stage that it is now, in terms of the traditional trappings, the Conservative Movement would have had a hard time getting a foothold." She and Ira would have loved to settle in Sumter but decided to raise their children in Charleston, where their children "would have a much better chance of being Jewish and having a Jewish social life and marrying Jewish and continuing what was very important to us." For 2019 interviews with Anita, see Mss. 1035-554 and Mss. 1035-555. For Anita's 2016 interviews with her husband, Ira Rosenberg, see Mss. 1035-452 and Mss. 1035-461. For a 1995 interview with Anita's mother, Virginia Moise Rosefield, see Mss. 1035-007.
Samuel "Sam" Appel, born in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1929, talks about growing up on St. Philip Street in a neighborhood he remembers as predominantly Jewish. Sam and his sister, Faye "Fannie" Rones, who sits in on this interview, describe their parents, Ida Goldberg and Abe Appel (Ubfal), both immigrants from Kaluszyn, Poland, and their brothers, Harry and Sidney. Sam recalls his mother performing the Jewish ritual shlug kapores during the High Holidays, and he shares memories of his bar mitzvah and his activities as a member of Boy Scout Troop 21 and Aleph Zadik Aleph. Although the Appels were members of Beth Israel, one of two Orthodox synagogues in town, Sam says "We were not Orthodox," reasoning that while his parents, especially his mother, followed many of the Sabbath rules of observance, they made compromises. For example, Abe and Ida opened their King Street furniture store on Saturdays. The siblings consider the interviewer's question about perceived differences between what some locals call Charleston's Uptown Jews and Downtown Jews. Sam, who earned an accounting degree at the University of South Carolina, ultimately settled in Atlanta, Georgia, because there were not enough single Jewish women to date in Charleston. He married Judy Eagle of Montgomery, Alabama, in 1960, and the couple raised three children in Atlanta. Sam became a lawyer after taking night classes at Emory University. He discusses his involvement in the Jewish Georgian, an independent community publication based in the Atlanta area.
Edna Ginsberg Banov, in the third of three interviews, talks about her father-in-law, Sam Banov and his men’s store on the corner of King and Spring streets in Charleston, South Carolina. Sam, who emigrated from Russia by way of England, dispensed a number of home remedies from his shop, which Edna describes here and in her first interview. She reads from her memoirs a passage she wrote about Suzy, an African American woman who worked for the Banovs for decades. The interviewee discusses the cake-baking business she started with Hattie Kronsberg that targeted homesick Citadel freshmen, and notes that she “started the first market research business in Charleston.” Edna recalls childhood memories of shnorrers, Jewish men collecting for charities, coming through town, and Yom Kippur services held in Brith Sholom, one of Charleston’s Orthodox synagogues. She had difficulty relating to Orthodox religious practices and “felt more at home” in the Conservative Synagogue Emanu-El, organized in 1947. She and her husband, Milton Banov, were among the founding families; she explains the motivations of those families in leaving Brith Sholom and offers details about her own spiritual practices. Edna is joined near the end of the interview by Beatrice “Beatsie” Bluestein Solow, a cousin, and the two briefly reminisce. See also Edna Banov’s interviews of November 2, 1995 (Mss. 1035-045) and November 9, 1995 (Mss. 1035-046). For a related collection, see the Edna Ginsberg Banov papers, Mss. 1039, Special Collections, College of Charleston.
Edna Ginsberg Banov, the second of five children, was born in 1908 in Charleston, South Carolina, to Russian immigrants Pauline Kop and Isaac Ginsberg. Pauline’s sister Freda had settled in Charleston and married Hyman Bluestein. Pauline and Isaac opened a grocery store on America Street, at the corner of Hanover, and they lived above it. Edna describes the store, their home, and the neighborhood, which was called Little Mexico. When she was about ten years old, they moved to King Street and opened a wholesale tobacco shop. The Ginsbergs were Orthodox Jews and Edna recalls attending Sunday school classes and, as a teen, Hebrew school with Rabbi Glasser. The interviewee shares stories of her siblings, Flossie, Lilla, Izzy, and Bernice; her teachers at Courtenay School; two African Americans who worked for the family; Uncle Willie Banov, whom Edna tried to match with Henrietta Givner; Fannie Warshavsky, who taught Pauline English; her children Charles, Linda, and Karen; and her grandson Michael. Edna married Milton Banov, son of Sam Banov. She talks about her father-in-law’s men’s store on upper King Street, where he also dispensed home remedies for illnesses. See also Edna Banov’s interviews of November 9, 1995 (Mss. 1035-046) and November 14, 1995 (Mss. 1035-048). For a related collection, see the Edna Ginsberg Banov papers, Mss. 1039, Special Collections, College of Charleston.
“Growing up Jewish in Beaufort” is a panel discussion held in 1998 at the Jewish Historical Society of South Carolina’s fall meeting held in Beaufort, South Carolina. Beaufort natives Joseph Lipton, Stanley Farbstein, Michael Greenly, Gerrie Lipson Sturman, and Thomas Keyserling share childhood memories from the 1920s through the 1960s. Topics addressed include antisemitism, assimilation, and the transition from Orthodox to Conservative practices in Beth Israel. The panelists recall rabbis and lay leaders who served the congregation, and identify Jewish merchants, tradesmen, and professionals.
Benjamin Berendt, born in 1912 in Charleston, South Carolina, is interviewed by his great-nephew Jason Berendt using the list of questions in the Interview Guidelines provided by the Jewish Heritage Collection Oral History Archives. The Berendt family came to the United States in the 1880s, spending time in New York and Georgia before settling in Charleston in the early 1900s. Benjamin's parents, Mary Ward [Warshawsky] and Isaac Berendt, were from Konin, Poland. Isaac ran a shoe repair shop at 367 King Street. Benjamin recalls the other businesses that were on the same block. Sometime after Isaac died in 1921, Benjamin's brothers, Emanuel, Jack, and Harry, sold Isaac's shop and opened a wholesale leather and shoe supply company at 631 King Street that later moved to 205 Meeting Street. Benjamin joined his brothers in the business after graduating from the College of Charleston in 1935. Thirty years later, they moved to East Bay Street and opened a wholesale handbag business that they ran until 1971. The Berendt brothers had one sister, Blanche, who married Dave Leff of New York. The Leffs lived in Hartsville, South Carolina, where they operated a dry goods store. Benjamin discusses the benefits of belonging to the B'nai B'rith youth group Alpeh Zadik Aleph; he was a founding member of Charleston Chapter No. 143. He shares memories of his teachers at Charleston High School and the activities he enjoyed growing up in Charleston. He describes how the family observed the Sabbath and the holidays, and how Brith Sholom Beth Israel has and has not changed over the many decades he has been a member. Benjamin married Anna Gelson of Charleston and they raised two sons, Gerald and Alan, in Charleston. Comments and corrections to the transcript made by the interviewee during proofing are in brackets with his initials. For related materials in Special Collections, College of Charleston, see the Benjamin Berendt and Anna Gelson Berendt papers, Mss. 1089.