Helen Berle, a daughter of Harry and Tillie Hufeizen Laufer, immigrants from Mogelnitsa, Poland, reminisces about her parents’ business, Laufer’s Kosher Restaurant on King Street in Charleston, South Carolina. Popular among local merchants and military servicemen stationed in Charleston and Beaufort, the eatery served Jews and non-Jews for about two decades beginning in the early 1930s. Berle describes some of the kosher-style dishes that Jews from the Old Country brought with them to America. “Everything was just good, plain, old, basic cooking. . . . I think seasoning had a lot to do with it.” While blacks could not eat at Laufer’s, they were hired to work in the kitchen, and she recalls that the relationship between members of the Jewish and black communities of Charleston were good in the years before the Civil Rights Movement. She briefly mentions a branch of her mother’s family, the Hufeisens of France, who were also in the restaurant business. Note: the transcript contains additions and corrections made by Helen during proofing.
Solomon “Sol” Breibart was born in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1914, the oldest of five children of Russian immigrants Ida Goldberg and Sam Breibart. The Breibarts moved from New York to Charleston in 1914, where they opened a corner grocery store. Sol describes the physical layout of his parents’ store on Meeting Street and how his father ran the business. He recalls the locations of his uncle Harry Goldberg’s grocery stores and identifies the owners of other markets and bakeries he knew while growing up. The interviewee discusses two groups of Charleston Jews known to locals as the Uptown Jews and the Downtown Jews: who they were in terms of origin, which synagogues they attended, and how they related to one another. He speaks briefly about the merger of Beth Israel and Brith Sholom and describes the first Beth Israel building on St. Philip Street. The Breibarts were Orthodox Jews and they kept kosher, yet Sam closed the store only on the High Holidays. Sol remembers how the shochet killed chickens for his mother and the dishes she cooked for the family, and he talks about his siblings, George, Mickey, Sidney, and Jack. Note: See Mss. 1035-279 for a second interview with Solomon Breibart dated March 16, 2004. Special Collections, Addlestone Library, College of Charleston is the repository for the Solomon Breibart professional papers, Mss. 1084, and the Breibart family photographs, Mss. 1034-108.