Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim is the fifth oldest Jewish Congregation in the United States. In 1749 organizers formed the current congregation. Fifteen years later they established the oldest surviving Jewish burial ground in the South on Coming Street. Initially prayers were recited in private homes, then in an improvised synagogue. Construction was finally begun in 1792 of the largest and most impressive synagogue in the United States. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1980.
Home of Reformed Judaism in the United States members founded Charleston’s Hebrew Benevolent Society in 1784, the oldest Jewish charitable organization and in 1801 the Hebrew Benevolent Society, the oldest in the country. Make sure you check out the letter President George Washington wrote to the congregation in 1790. A replica can be seen in the KKBE Museum.
When the original synagogue was destroyed by fire, the current stunning Greek Revival style building was erected in 1840. The temple grounds are fronted by a lovely iron fence. Be sure to check out the marble table above the enormous entrance doors, with its unusual English translation and the original dedication stone of 1794 in the foyer. The stained-glass windows, reflecting Jewish religious symbols, are beautiful and the interior of this synagogue magnificent. In 2003, the congregation received the Carolopolis Award for exterior preservation.