Mailing Address:
Special Collections
College of Charleston Library
66 George Street
Charleston, SC 29424

(843) 953-8016

Title: Aiken Jewish community collection

Collection #: Mss 1042

Dates: 1923-1995 (bulk 1980s-1990s)

Size: .375 linear ft.

Biographical Note: M.S. Polier was one of the first Jews to settle in Aiken, South Carolina in 1896. Originally from Russia, other members of the Polier family soon followed. Sarah Ann Polier married B.M. Surasky (ca. 1896) and the couple organized Aiken's first Jewish services in a Masonic Temple above a store on Laurens Street. By 1910 Aiken was home to 45 Jewish adults, and in 1921 a formal charter for a synagogue was issued. The cornerstone for Adath (Adas) Yeshurun (Congregation of Israel) Synagogue was laid in 1925.

Scope and Content Note:

Mostly photocopied material chronicling the history of the Jewish community in Aiken, South Carolina, including the Adath (Adas) Yeshurun Synagogue.

The scrapbooks are divided into six sections, which are arranged in original order.

The Adath Yeshurun Synagogue section contains newspaper articles (1980s-1990s) re. history of synagogue, 70th anniversary program (1991), color photograph (1995) of board members, copies of real estate documents (1923-1925) for original acquisition of property, and data (1989) from building survey conducted by the South Carolina State Historic Preservation Office; also reproduction images of 1933 synagogue dinner and children at religious school, ca. 1930s.

The Early Families section includes articles (1980s-1990s) and obituaries re. members of Aiken's Jewish community including Mandle Suraksy (former Mayor), artist, Mina Surasky Tropp, Herbert Rudnick, (known for work with the S.C. Mental Retardation Commission) and Irene Rudnick; published memoirs about growing up in Aiken with references to the Jewish community include, "Memoirs, Mostly about a South Carolina Childhood" (1980) by Mina Tropp, "Jewish Life in Aiken, Childhood Memories of Esther Surasky Pinck" (1982), "My Family, My Town" (1994) by Rose Rubin and "A Down South Jew ... Go On With You" (1991); other articles about Aiken Jews cover the murder (early 1900s) of Abraham Surasky and history of Jewish merchants in Aiken.

The Happyville section contains two articles on the history of the farming colony of Russian Jews that settled in Aiken County during the early 1900s.

The Hadassah Sisterhood section includes photocopied images of early members (1943, 1954-1956, 1959, 1960) and color photographs taken at 1993 regular meeting of the Aiken Sisterhood and 1995 annual meeting.

The Sons of Israel Cemetery section includes images of cemetery gates, and information (1994) on cemetery plots (owners, locations, etc).

The miscellaneous material includes clippings (1990s) re. Jewish holidays in Aiken and fliers from events at Adath Yeshurun Synagogue; also color photographs from Succos (1990), Rosh Hashanah (1992), and Purim (1993) celebrations.


  A. Adath Yeshurun Synagogue (1920s-1990s): print of synagogue; clippings and excerpts re. history and anniversaries; program (1991) from 70th anniversary service; color photograph (1995) of board members and officers; one page overview (typed) of congregation with history; data (1989) from building survey conducted by the SC State Historic Preservation Office (1989); photocopies of title of real estate (1923) and mortgage of real estate (1925) for synagogue property; image (repro) of 1933 dinner at the synagogue; images (copies) of Aiken religious school classes ca. 1930s.  
  B. Early Families (1980s-1990s): clippings (photocopies) re. members of Aiken Jewish community (most from Aiken Standard) include obituaries of Shad Polier (1976), Esther Surasky Persky, (1985), Ralph Surasky, Ida Rosalyn Wolf (1990), Nathan Franzblau (1984), Nettie Franzblau (1992); tributes (1986) to Mandle Surasky, former mayor of Aiken; articles and obituaries (1990) re. Jewish artist, Mina Surasky Tropp (with color photograph of one of her dried flower paintings); article, "Memoirs: Mostly about a South Carolina Childhood" by Mina Tropp, published in Jewish Currents, Feb. 1980 (five pages); genealogical information on the Surasky family compiled by Nelson Danish (1993); article (1982) re. Esther Pinck, winner of Winthrop College’s Mildred Sullivan Award; article re. Pinck’s memories of Jewish life in Aiken published (March 1982) in the Southern Jewish Historical Society Newsletter; article re. murder (early 1900s) of Abraham Surasky, published (March 1994) in Times Outlook; article (1987) re. Herbert Rudnick and his work with SC Mental Retardation Commission; article, "My Family, My Town" by Rose Rubin (Feb. 1994) re. family history (Rudnick, Surasky, Halpern families) and Aiken Jewish community history; advertisements/images of D. Poliakoff store (1990s); article (1990) re. Julia Wolf and store, "Julia's Dress Shop"; articles re. Efron family; article, "A Down South Jew..Go On With You" from Atlanta Jewish Times (May 1991) with references to Aiken Jews; article re. achievements of Irene Rudnick.  
  C. Happyville 1907-1908: all photocopies; article "Montmorenci Colony Enjoyed Two-Year Success" re. history of colony (1989) with images; article (1991) "Happyville, South Carolina" by Arnold Shankman from The Palmetto State: Stories from the Making of South Carolina.  
  D. Hadassah Sisterhood: photocopy of letter (1938) of thanks to Mrs. B.M. Surasky, president of the Jewish Ladies Aid Society of Aiken, from The Hebrew Sheltering and Immigrant Aid Society of America re. contributions; photocopies of photographs: Aiken Hadassah (1943) and Hadassah Dance Committee (1956); images of Aiken Hadassah Officers, 1959-60, 1954, 1955; photographs (color) of group at Aiken Synagogue (1988); annual meeting (1995), regular meeting of Aiken Sisterhood (1993).  
  E. Sons of Israel Cemetery: color photocopy of images of cemetery gates (1990s); data (1994) on cemetery plots and who owns them, location of plots numbering, etc.  
  F. Misc.: Past Winners of Man and Youth of the Year Awards (Aiken) with Jewish citizens underlined, 1988; misc. articles re. observance of Jewish holidays in Aiken, (1983, 1984); fliers for events and lectures at the Adas Yeshurun Synagogue; photographs (color) of Succos, 1990; Rosh Hashanah Tash Licht at Hopeland Gardens, 1992; Purim, 1993