Public invited to dedication and tours of historic Jewish site on Sunday, Jan. 15
COLUMBIA, S.C., Thursday, Jan. 5 2017 — The Columbia Jewish Heritage Initiative (CJHI), in partnership with the Jewish Historical Society of South Carolina and Historic Columbia, will dedicate a South Carolina Historical Marker at the Beth Shalom Cemetery on Sunday, Jan. 15 from 2 – 3:30 p.m. The public is invited to be part of the dedication and enjoy free tours of the cemetery after the dedication with state archaeologist Jonathan Leader.
“I am very moved by the recognition of the historical plaque being unveiled to mark the significance of our Whaley Street cemetery,” said Heidi Lovit, president of Beth Shalom Synagogue. “In all cities with a Jewish presence, the importance of establishing a cemetery was one of the first task that was done to create community.”
Founded in 1883 by the Hebrew Cemetery Society of Columbia, the “free cemetery or burial ground for Hebrews” was one of the earliest of its kind in America. Burials include Orthodox Jews from Columbia and beyond with the cemetery’s oldest extant marker designating the burial of Arthur Benedict of Abbeville, S.C., who died in 1884. In 1911, the House of Peace (Beth Shalom) Synagogue assumed management of the cemetery, and over time, it became recognized as a burial ground specifically for the synagogue’s members.
“My grandparents are laid to rest in the Whaley Street cemetery and my family has been involved in synagogue activities, including the establishment and perpetual upkeep of both Whaley Street and Arcadia Lakes cemetery’s,” said Lovit. “Thanks to Historic Columbia and the Columbia Jewish Heritage Initiative for providing this beautiful and meaningful historic marker for future generations to read.”
The dedication will include remarks by the following individuals: Heidi Lovit, Beth Shalom Synagogue, board president; Lilly Filler, Jewish Historical Society of South Carolina, board representative; Jonathan Leader, South Carolina archaeologist and Rabbi Jonathan Case, Beth Shalom Synagogue. The dedication will take place at the Beth Shalom Cemetery, located at 1300 Whaley Street, at 2 p.m. and tours will immediately follow until 3:30 p.m.
In addition to the cemetery unveiling on Jan. 15, a second historic marker associated with Beth Shalom will be installed the week of Jan. 8 at the site of the synagogue, which once stood at 1719 Marion Street. This structure, designed by architects Lafaye & Lafaye and built by M. B. Kahn Construction, was dedicated on September 8, 1935. It served as the congregation’s house of worship for nearly 40 years. The congregation relocated to its present location at 5827 Trenholm Road in 1973, and the Marion Street synagogue was demolished shortly thereafter.
South Carolina Historical Markers, a program of the State Historic Preservation Office, mark and interpret places important to an understanding of South Carolina’s past, either as the sites of significant events, or at historic properties such as buildings, sites, structures or other resources significant for their design.
About Columbia Jewish Heritage Initiative:
The Columbia Jewish Heritage Initiative (CJHI) aims to uncover community history through a collaborative program with the Jewish community. In 2014, Historic Columbia, in partnership with the College of Charleston’s Jewish Heritage Collection, Columbia’s Jewish Community Center and Jewish Federation, the Jewish Historical Society of South Carolina and the University of South Carolina’s Jewish Studies Department, established a multi-disciplinary initiative to document, provide access to and raise awareness of local Jewish history. The CJHI makes history accessible in a variety of formats both as a stand-alone story and as one of the many threads woven into the broader history that Historic Columbia currently presents. Visit historiccolumbia.org/CJHI to learn more.
About Historic Columbia:
In November 1961, a small group of individuals intent on saving the Ainsley Hall House from demolition officially incorporated as the Historic Columbia Foundation. Over the next five decades the organization, which was founded on the premise of preservation and education, would take on the stewardship of seven historic properties in Richland County. Today, the organization serves as a model for local preservation efforts and interpretation of local history. Visit historiccolumbia.org or find us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or YouTube for more details.