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A Portion of the People
Pledging Allegiance First Families · This Happy Land · Palmetto Jews 
Confirmation at Beth Israel, Beaufort, S.C., 1926.

This section of “A Portion of the People” is still under construction. It traces Jewish migration to the South in the first half of the 20th century-through World War II. The East European exodus to America beginning in the 1880s swamped everything that came before. Charleston’s immigrant neighborhood, north of Calhoun Street and east of King, became home to a Yiddish-speaking community that by 1911 was large enough to support a second Orthodox synagogue. On Main Streets across the state, Jewish newcomers were opening dry-goods and general stores, holding religious services in Masonic lodges and town halls, and taking part in civic life.

Between the two world wars, first- and second-generation southern Jews worked hard to become Americans. Public expressions of patriotism coincided with the emergence of a more self-conscious Jewish identity, partly in response to a rising tide of anti-Semitism in the 1930s.

Pledging Allegiance ends in tragedy, with a photographic montage of the families and friends of Jewish South Carolinians who had stayed behind in Europe and were caught in the Nazi maelstrom.

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Last updated: Wednesday, June 21, 2006