Judaic Treasures of the
Library of Congress:
Charleston's Beth Elohim Synagogue
Painter and printmaker John Rubens Smith
drew this pencil sketch of the first Beth
Elohim synagogue building
which was consecrated in 1794. The exterior
of the synagogue, which resembled a church
in the Georgian style, reflected the community's
efforts to blend into the surrounding environment.
The building burned to the ground in 1838.
Jews Synagogue in Charleston [Beth
Elohim], ca. 1812.
Prints and Photographs
Solomon Carvalho's painting from memory
of the interior of the Beth Elohim Synagogue
shows an interior that conforms to the Sephardic tradition, with men's seating on the ground
floor facing the reader's desk in the center
and accommodations for women located in the
upstairs gallery. American Reform
Judaism traces its origins to the Beth Elohim congregation,
when a group of synagogue members withdrew
from the synagogue in 1825 and established
the Reformed Society of Israelites, which
survived for about thirteen years.
This 1872 map below of Charleston reflects
a nineteenth-century trend in American mapmaking
that featured "bird's-eye" views
prepared for towns and cities across the
nation. The map shows the location of Charleston's "Sinagogue" (no.
45) and the Hebrew Orphan Asylum (no.
85), which was incorporated in 1802
as the first American Jewish orphan care
JC. N. Drie.
View of the City of Charleston,
South Carolina, 1872.
Color lithograph map.
Source: Library of Congress