The College’s New Pearlstine/Lipov Center for Southern Jewish Culture Adds to Charleston’s Rich Jewish History

The College’s New Pearlstine/Lipov Center for Southern Jewish Culture Adds to Charleston’s Rich Jewish History

Charleston, South Carolina, is home to one of the oldest Jewish communities in North America. Until 1820, it was also home to the country’s largest Jewish population. So, it is entirely fitting that the Pearlstine/Lipov Center for Southern Jewish Culture will sit in the center of the city’s historic district at the College of Charleston, as part of the Jewish Studies Program.

Cradle of Southern Jewish HistoryA $1.5 million gift from one of the city’s oldest Jewish families will establish and sustain the Center as a place to promote teaching, research, and publication on the culture and history of southern Jews. Seven generations of the Pearlstine family have called Charleston home, including Edwin Pearlstine (fifth generation), his daughters, and their families who are establishing the Center.

“Southern Jewish culture has a story, a history, that should be preserved and told,” explains Edwin Pearlstine. “The Jewish community here is unique. It is small, tight-knit, but civic-minded. We’re involved in our community and we give back to our community.”

“The Pearlstine family’s long history of support of the College and our Jewish Studies program rank as one of the best examples of community engagement that I know of,” said President P. George Benson. “The endowment of the Pearlstine/Lipov Center for Southern Jewish Culture will help ensure that our Jewish Studies program continues to thrive and that the fascinating history of Jewish settlement in Charleston is forever preserved and studied.”

 RELATED: Read more about the Pearlstine family in the Post and Courier.

The Pearlstine Family

The Pearlstine Family

The Center will draw its strength from three powerful pillars. Students will be able to take a range of courses on southern Jewish history offered at the Sylvia Vlosky Yaschik Jewish Studies Center at the College of Charleston. Researchers and scholars will be able to use the extraordinary archival resources housed in the Jewish Heritage Collection at Addlestone library and consult a team of specialists whose knowledge of South Carolina Jewish history is without peer. And members of the broader community will be engaged by the lectures, walking tours, and conferences co-sponsored by the Jewish Historical Society of South Carolina, a statewide community organization whose network reaches far beyond the campus.

 RELATED: Learn more about a major in Jewish studies.

“The Pearlstine/Lipov Center for Southern Jewish Culture will take us to the next level, making southern Jewish history a focus of attention, with research, teaching, and community outreach,” explains Marty Perlmutter, professor and director of the College’s Jewish Studies Program. “The Center will utilize the power of place to build a program in which the College will be nationally and internationally distinctive.”

For more information, contact Marty Perlmutter at

About the Jewish Studies Program

The Yaschik/Arnold Jewish Studies Program was founded in 1984 and has enjoyed wide community support, including major gifts from Henry and Sylvia Yaschik, Norman and Gerry Sue Arnold. Jerry and Anita Zucker, Sam and Gina Shapiro, Sam Greene, and others. The Jewish Studies Program currently has four faculty positions, two endowed chairs, an academic major and minor, Jewish Student Union/Hillel, the recently added Zucker/Goldberg Center for Holocaust Studies, and an ambitious schedule of community events. The program has encouraged an expanding enrollment of Jewish students—at last count, exceeding 800. In August 2015, a major renovation of the Jewish Studies Center will result in a vegan/vegetarian kosher dining hall, as well as improved classroom space.

About the Jewish Heritage Collection

Located in Special Collections at the College’s Addlestone Library, the Jewish Heritage Collection (JHC) documents the experience of Jewish southerners from colonial times to the present day. The archives includes recorded interviews, photographs, correspondence, documents, business, organizational, and congregation records, genealogies, memoirs, and other primary sources. JHC’s annual budget includes contributions from several local foundations and income from a generous endowment from the family of Sam and Regina Greene.

About the Jewish Historical Society of South Carolina

Founded in 1994, JHSSC is the largest statewide Jewish membership organization in South Carolina. The Society sponsors two meeting a year, publishes a bi-annual newsletter, and maintains an active website. Among its on-going projects are a survey of Jewish burial grounds across the state and the promotion of historical markers at sites of Jewish interest.