Isaac Harby

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Isaac Harby (1788-1828) was an early 19th-century teacher, playwright, literary critic, journalist and newspaper editor and advocate of reforms in Judaism in Charleston, South Carolina. His ideas were some of the precedents behind the development of Reform Judaism.

Harby came from a Sephardic Jewish family. He and some associates created a new synagogue in the 1820s because they felt the existing Sephardic ritual was too hard to understand. The words were spoken in a language that few Jews at the time understood, and all associated with their pain in the Sephardi Diaspora. The words were spoken too quickly to understand even if the language was known.

"We wish to worship God, not as slaves of bigotry and priestcraft but as the enlightened descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob."


  • Danile Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought, p. 448.
  • bio of Harby
  • LC Moise, "Biography of Isaac Harby" 52