This Happy Land: The Jews of Colonial and Antebellum Charleston (Judaic Studies Series)

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9780817305765: This Happy Land: The Jews of Colonial and Antebellum Charleston (Judaic Studies Series)

This Happy Land examines the history of the Jews of Charleston, South Carolina, up to the outbreak of the Civil War. Charleston was the preeminent city of the South for many decades, and its Jewish community was the largest in North America from about the time of the American Revolution until around 1820. American Reform Judaism, one of the three major divisions of the faith, first appeared in Charleston in 1824 when the Reformed Society of Israelites was established. What happened among the Jews in Charleston affected the development of Judaism throughout America.
The Jews who lived in the city from the 17th century to 1861 are identified in Hagy's comprehensive volume, which includes information on their places of origin, marriages, children, and deaths. From Hagy's exhaustive research into published and archival sources, patterns emerged which allowed him to draw conclusions about the life of the people in the city and to develop both a social and religious history. Hagy shows that the Jews who lived in Charleston quickly adapted to southern ways of life, including dueling and owning slaves and plantations. They also lived where they chose, followed the professions they wanted, and generally participated in the affairs of the city. Most viewed America as the "happy land" and Charleston as their New Jerusalem.
This book breaks new ground in the history of Jewish communities by providing such analyses as the origins of residents, the roles that women played in business, the causes of mortality, the antebellum Jewish family, the common aspects of life, and relations between Jews and African-Americans. It also provides a thorough analysis of the Reformed Society of Israelites that originated at Beth Elohim synagogue, and which became the first reform movement in America. The volume concludes with an appendix containing a list of all the known Jewish residents and provides selected biographical information.

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About the Author:

 

James William Hagy is Professor of History at the College of Charleston.

Review:

“This is the definitive history of America’s largest colonial-federal period Jewish community.” – Malcolm H. Stern, American Jewish Archives



 

“A major contribution to the study of American Jewish history. . . .This Happy Land represents both a methodological and conceptual breakthrough, for it examines sources not generally studied by students of American Jewish communities and answers questions – particularly about Jewish slaveholders and Jewish women – that have not previously even been asked. Hagy has successfully merged qualitative and quantitative techniques and sustains an interesting narrative.” – Jonathan D. Sarna, Brandeis University

 

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James W. Hagy
Published by Univ of Alabama Pr (Tx) (1993)
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