Highest Award Presented for Exemplary Service
The Order of the Jewish Palmetto was presented to the Honorable Richard Gergel and Robert Rosen for exemplary service to the Jewish Historical Society of South Carolina. In a surprise presentation on Zoom, President Lilly Stern Filler said, “They each represent the best of us, and we are most grateful to their willingness to provide their expertise and energy these past 18 months in creating the “Conversations” program.”
When the pandemic hit in late 2019, many nonprofits were left with how best to serve their members and constituents. This was true for the Jewish Historical Society of South Carolina. A statewide organization, the JHSSC has hosted two in person meetings a year for its members since its inception in 1994. Once it became apparent in person would not be possible, the two past presidents of the organization offered up their expertise in hosting a monthly “Conversation” on Zoom.
“We thought that perhaps 40 or 50 of our friends and family would join our first program. We were astounded when over 100 registered,” said co-host, Judge Richard Gergel. “We are very pleased that folks continue to tune in for our journey through topics surrounding South Carolina’s Jewish history.”
Co-host Robert Rosen commented, “We are very fortunate that we have an embarrassment of what we call “riches”. The history of South Carolina’s Jewish community is deep and layered. Our challenge is keeping the program to 60 minutes!”
“Conversations with Judge Richard Gergel and Attorney Robert Rosen” has been a monthly event since July 2020. With topics ranging from South Carolina Jews and Reconstruction with special guests Yale professor David Blight and Reconstruction historian Hyman Rubin III to South Carolina’s’ Jewish Merchants with children and grandchildren of the Jewish merchants whose roots in small town South Carolina became an economic engine, the topics have been deeply researched and presented in a conversational tone. Other special guests have included Jonathan Sarna, Samuel Gruber, artist Jonathan Green, Andrew Feiler, Jean Toal, and Ray Greenberg.
The Order of the Jewish Palmetto is highest award bestowed by the Society. The award has been presented only six times previously and is given to those who have given far and beyond expectations. Past honorees include the late Senator Isadore Lourie, Solomon Briebart, Max and Trude Heller, Ann Meddin Hellman, Marty Perlmutter, and Dale Rosengarten.
Judge Richard M. Gergel
Richard Mark Gergel is a South Carolina lawyer and United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina. He is the author of Unexampled Courage: The Blinding of Sgt. Isaac Woodard and the Awakening of President Harry S. Truman and Judge J. Waties Waring.
Robert Rosen, Esquire
Robert Rosen is the author of A Short History of Charleston, the best selling history of the city; Confederate Charleston: An Illustrated History of the City and the People During the Civil War; The Jewish Confederates, all published by the University of South Carolina Press; and Charleston: A Crossroads of History with Isabella Leland. His latest book is Saving the Jews: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Holocaust.
Jewish Historical Society of South Carolina
The Jewish Historical Society of South Carolina, founded in 1994, mission is to study, preserve, and promote awareness of the history and culture of the Jews of South Carolina. Originally begun to preserve memories about small town Jewish life in South Carolina, the Society has expanded over its 25-year history to provide conferences, a biannual magazine, and documentation of Jewish burial grounds and Jewish merchants across South Carolina. The JHSSC’s mission is further supported under the auspices of the Jewish Heritage Collection at the College of Charleston, where more than 500 oral histories have been gathered as well as manuscripts and family and business archives. Visit www.jhssc.org for more information.