Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim

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Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim Synagogue
Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim Synagogue.jpg
Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim
Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim is located in South Carolina
Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim
Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim is located in the US
Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim
Location 90 Hasell St., Charleston, South Carolina
Coordinates 32°46′56″N 79°55′58″W / 32.78222°N 79.93278°W / 32.78222; -79.93278Coordinates: 32°46′56″N 79°55′58″W / 32.78222°N 79.93278°W / 32.78222; -79.93278
Built Founded in the 1749; current sanctuary built in 1840
Architect Cyrus L. Warner; David L. Lopez
Architectural style Greek Revival
NRHP reference # 78002499
Significant dates
Added to NRHP April 4, 1978[1]
Designated NHL June 19, 1980[2]

Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim (Hebrew: קהל קדוש בית אלוהים‬, also known as K. K. Beth Elohim, or more simply Congregation Beth Elohim), founded in 1749, is one of the oldest Jewish congregations in the United States.[3] The congregation is nationally significant as the place where ideas resembling Reform Judaism were first evinced. It meets in an architecturally significant 1840 Greek Revival synagogue located at 90 Hasell (pronounced as if it were spelled Hazel) Street in Charleston, South Carolina. It was designed by Cyrus L. Warner.


Before 1830 Kahal Kodesh Beth Elohim (KKBE) was a place of worship in Charleston, South Carolina for Spanish and Portuguese Jews using Portuguese rituals as done in Portugal before the Spanish and Portuguese inquisitions, it later adopted a reformed religious ritual, after reabsorbing a splinter group originally led by Isaac Harby. In 1824 Reformed Society of the Israelites was founded by Portuguese Jews. It adopted ideas from the European Reform movement, and itself contributed ideas to the later, widespread American Reform movement, but was also quite different form either of them, with its own unique Reform prayer-book, the first in America[4]

The founding members of the KKBE were Sephardi Jews of Spanish and Portuguese descendants, who arrived into Charleston from London, England. While the congregation is sometimes considered to be the originator of Reform Judaism in the United States, that movement was established by European immigrants mostly from Germany later on.


Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim

The present Greek Revival building is the second oldest synagogue building, and the oldest in continuous use, in the United States.[5] It is a single story brick building, set on a raised granite foundation. The brick is stuccoed and painted white, and is marked in manner to resemble stone blocks. The front has a full Greek temple front, with fluted Doric columns supporting a gabled pediment.[6] The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places on April 4, 1978, as Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim Synagogue[1] and was designated a National Historic Landmark on June 19, 1980.[2][6] The Coming Street Cemetery, owned by the Congregation, is listed separately on the National Register of Historic Places.

A historical plaque at the entrance to the grounds of the Congregation Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim.

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  1. ^ a b National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ a b "Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Archived from the original on 2011-06-06. Retrieved 2008-03-03. 
  3. ^ Jonathan Sarna. American Judaism: A History, Yale University Press, 2004, p. 19.
  4. ^ Harby, Isaac; Moise, Abraham; Carvalho, D. N., eds. (1830). The Sabbath Service and Miscellaneous Prayers, Adopted by the Reformed Society of Israelites, founded in Charleston, S. C., November 21, 1825. Reprinted with an introduction by Dr. Barnett A. Elzas (Block Publishing Company, New York, 1916 ed.). 44 Queen St., Charleston (SC): J.S. Burges. (From the Editor's Preface:) The Charleston Movement of 1824 was not an indigenous movement, but directly dependent upon a similar movement that had taken place in Germany a few years before, now popularly known as the Hamburg Movement. The Prayer Book of the Reformed Society of Israelites however has nothing in common with the one published for the use of the Hamburg Temple in 1819. Apart from its novelties such as the Articles of Faith, the Wedding Service, the Confirmation Service, the Service for Circumcision and for Naming a Daughter and its English Hymns, it is based upon the Portuguese Ritual then in use in Charleston. 
  5. ^ "Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim Synagogue, Charleston County (90 Hasell St., Charleston)". National Register Properties in South Carolina listing. South Carolina Department of Archives and History. Retrieved 2008-03-23. 
  6. ^ a b Polly Ann Matherly (April 1980). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim; Congregation Beth Elohim; Beth Elohim Synagogue" (pdf). National Park Service.  and Accompanying three photos, exterior and interior, from 1973 and 1977 (32 KB)

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