Jewish Contributions to the CSRA

The CSRA (Central Savannah River Area) is the region located around and named after the Savannah River which forms the border between Augusta Georgia and Aiken South Carolina and includes such towns as Williston, Edgefield, North Augusta, Waynesboro, Thomson, and more. The CSRA Jews have contributed much and continue to do so in our area in many fields. While many families have lived here for four and five generations, others have enriched the community by settling in the area. Although some have had to overcome obstacles to education via discrimination and quotas, many have become attorneys and judges; politicians; medical professionals; educators at all levels; business professionals such as merchants, mill owners, and accountants; and literary, visual, and performing artists; and so much more. Some are featured in the Virtual Museum; many more stories are available in the physical building at The Augusta Jewish Museum opening in Spring 2021 . 

Do You Know?

Click on a question to see the answer.

 

1. Do you know the physician pictured above and what his specialty was?  What building in Augusta is named in his memory?


Dr. Robert B. Greenblatt was a renowned endocrinologist. The Robert B. Greenblatt M.D. Library at the Medical College of Georgia on the Augusta University campus is named for him. It is located at 1439 Laney Walker Boulevard. Robert Benjamin Greenblatt (1906-1987) was a Canadian physician and medical researcher specializing in endocrinology who spent almost all of his career at the Medical College of Georgia (MCG) in Augusta. He wrote many books including Search the Scriptures: Modern Medicine and Biblical Personages and was especially known for his work in the development of the sequential oral contraceptive pill and the oral fertility pill.




2. Do you know who the first Jewish settler in the Augusta area was and what his occupation was?


The first recorded Jew in Augusta was Isaac Henricks (1768-1848) who left Charleston and settled in Augusta in 1802 as a fur trader with the Native Americans in the area. In geneaological records, Isaac's name is spelled various ways, typical of immigrants coming to America. An organized Jewish community didn’t develop in Augusta until the 1840s, when German immigrants began to arrive. In 1845, the original Congregation Children of Israel was formed. Its founding charter stated that the congregation was made up of “the scattered Israelites” of Augusta, Georgia, and Hamburg, South Carolina, which was located just across the river from Augusta. Isaac Henricks died in 1848 and is buried in Magnolia Cemetery next to his wife Esther. https://www.isjl.org/georgia-augusta-encyclopedia.html




3. Do you know that Hamburg SC, home of some of the Congregation Children of Israel original congregants, is now North Augusta?


The founder of Hamburg (Aiken County) SC was Henry Shultz from Germany who arrived in Augusta in 1806 as a simple day worker. Shultz became a successful businessman who built a bridge across the Savannah River to get to the Georgia side. Following the Civil War, Hamburg was repopulated and governed by freedmen who began to redevelop Hamburg. After the deaths and damage in the Hamburg Massacre of July 8, 1876, reconstructionist action suppressed voter rights of Blacks and caused the town to decline for good. Augusta began construction of a river levee after a 1911 flood, but Hamburg remained unprotected. Particularly disastrous floods finally forced out the last residents in 1929 and that land became part of North Augusta in Aiken County.




4. Do you know who the first Jewish musician in Augusta's symphony orchestra was?


The first Jewish musician in the city's original symphony was Abe Schneider, followed by many others. Abe and his wife Anne ran a wonderful music store as did Jake and Betty Roseman - Jay's Music, now run by daughter Vera and Doug Frohman. The outstanding ongoing involvement of Jewish Augustans in the performing arts has included: classical music, jazz and pop, dance instruction and performance, theater groups and dinner theaters as well as children's theater. In early 2021, visit the Augusta Jewish Museum building at 525 Telfair St. to learn more.





 

The Augusta Jewish Museum has many more stories to tell.

Please come see us when the AJM opens in early 2021.

Jews Came from All Over the World

to Serve the CSRA Community

Some Livelihoods of the

CSRA Jewish Community

The first generation of immigrants understood that it would take time and effort to learn a new language and establish themselves in their new country. Meanwhile, they sought ways to earn their daily bread.

The World of Business

 

In the early 1800's Jewish immigrants found that even with limited English skills, they could earn their livings as itinerant peddlers. As they became successful,  they learned English and understood the American culture, they established retail stores in small towns and cities — and became part of a community.

From the 1840's until today, Jewish merchants have served customers on Broad Street and elsewhere around town.  Ruben's Department Store at 914 Broad Street in Augusta, founded in 1898, is one of the oldest continuous operating stores in the United States. The Bee Hive at 972 Broad St., owned by the Abe Cohen family, clothed many a child.  Sidney's Uniforms in the 400 block is in an original Jewish Community Center building. Sometimes children followed their parents into family businesses and continue to this day, contributing to the economy of the CSRA. Other businesses have come and gone. A few enterprises, such as Friedman's Jewelers, Weinberger Furniture, and Augusta Sportswear, began as family businesses. Customers came from all over to Julia's Dress Shop in Aiken. Dolin's Store served Waynesboro and the late owner Martin Dolin was Mayor of Waynesboro.

Click on a photo to view the slideshow.

Professions

 

Some sons and daughters of the early Augusta and CSRA families pursued other professions besides merchants. New Jewish families continue to come to Augusta, attracted by the various enterprises in the community. Some stationed at Fort Gordon chose to make Augusta their home after completing their tours of duty. Physicians and other health professionals were recruited by both the Augusta University Health/Medical College of Georgia and the growing private care sector. Jewish physicians have been well represented in both private practice and academic medicine -- the "town" and the "gown" sectors of medicine -- as well as in such organizations as the Richmond-County Medical Society.

 

Scientists brought to the area by the Savannah River Site in South Carolina often chose to live in the CSRA because of its vibrant Jewish community. Attorneys set up offices and some entered public service such as Irene Krugman Rudnick (died in 2019 at age 89) of Aiken who was the first Jewish woman elected to the SC State Legislature. Educators are in elementary and secondary schools and universities. Many Jews participate in the CSRA Arts Community as performing, literary, and visual artists or as spectators. The Harry Jacobs Chamber Music Society honors the late Harry Jacobs (died 2001) past conductor of the Augusta Symphony. Beth Bolgla's work hangs in the Morris Museum of Art. 

Click on a photo to view the slideshow.

To learn more about Jewish contributions,

visit the Augusta Jewish Museum at 525 Telfair Street, opening in early 2021.

CSRA Jewish CommUNITY 

 

Over a Century of Providing Friendship, Affiliation, and Good Fun

Although the Young Men's Hebrew Association (YMHA) in Augusta was incorporated in  1927, the communal organization traces its history back to 1854. Now known as the  Augusta Jewish Community Center (AJCC) since the mid 1950’s, it is recognized by the  National Association of Jewish Community Centers of America as the second oldest such organization in the US, second only to Baltimore.

The first mention of a Young Men’s Hebrew Association (YMHA) in a publication was in January of 1857 in the “American  Israelite” newspaper. The various Jewish community organizations in Augusta have had several names including the Hebrew Social Club, the Hebrew Benevolent Society, and the  Standard Club (many Jewish social organizations at that time adopted neutral names including Standard and Progressive, for example)

The story is continued after the slideshow

Click on a photo to view the slideshow.

In 1891 the Hebrew Social Club met at 558 Broad Street. Today this address includes Sidney’s Department Store, and Steven  Fishman is the third generation to operate the business at this location. There were several other properties rented on Broad Street including part of the Montgomery building which is now the Miller Theater. In 1927 the organization was officially incorporated as the  YMHA and by 1935 a building was proudly dedicated at 1234-36-38 Greene Street  (current location of the UA Local 150 Plumbers and Steamfitters Union). During WWII this site was used by the USO for Jewish Soldiers stationed at Camp Gordon. In 1953, the  Sibley Road facility known as the Augusta Jewish Community Center (AJCC) was opened. The community enjoyed a large swimming pool and swim team, recreational facilities, versatile programs for all ages, and day camps.

Later, in 1998, the current location in Marks Park at 898 Weinberger Way Road in Columbia County was inaugurated. The YMHA continues to be dba (doing business as) the AJCC and serves the community at large.

Jewish Settlement in the CSRA

 

Happyville Jewish Community (near Aiken SC) (1905-1908)

Jewish Settlement in the CSRA began with Isaac Henricks in 1802 but settlers scattered around the area in towns such as Aiken, Edgefield, Langley, North Augusta, Williston, Waynesboro, Augusta, and Thomson. One of these short-lived settlements was named Happyville near Aiken SC:

Charles Weintraub and Morris Letterman purchased Sheffield Plantation in Montmorenci near Aiken and ten Jewish families moved there in December 1905, determined to establish a successful farming colony. The charter for their “Incorporative Farming Association,” sponsored by the US Dept of Agriculture and Immigration, was popularly known as “Happyville,” and the settlers declared their intention to raise stock, grow cotton, fruits, and vegetables, gin cotton, cut timber, saw lumber, and grind grain. Fifteen more Jews joined the original group in early 1906. The colony faced insurmountable challenges including bad weather, insufficient funds, and land unsuitable for farming. By July 1908, they had sold the land to the Surasky family and dispersed. Members of the Surasky family still reside in Aiken County.

Click this link to hear the Happyville Jewish Community story at

https://www.southcarolinapublicradio.org/post/h-happyville-0

http://americanjewisharchives.org/publications/journal/PDF/1978_30_01_00_shankman.pdf

The Augusta Jewish Museum has many more stories to tell.

Please come see us when the AJM opens in early 2021.

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Augusta Jewish Museum

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