"M" is for Moïse, Penina

Aug 8, 2018

Credit SC Public Radio

"M" is for Moïse, Penina (1787-1880). Educator, poet, hymn writer, activist. In 1819, Moïse published her first poem in Charleston. Her poems subsequently appeared in newspapers throughout the country and in national magazines such as Godey’s Ladies Book and the American Jewish Advocate. Demonstrating a cosmopolitan world-view, she addressed anti-Semitism, politics and history—and included her personal insights on society. Her poems contained romantic, sentimental, and classical themes, as well as emotional and non-denominational religious topics. In the 1840s Beth Elohim synagogue—of which she was an active member—became the first Reformed congregation in the United States. Moïse was commissioned to write a new hymnal for worship. She composed the vast majority of the hymns included in the first American Reform Jewish hymnal. Penina Moïse was also a superintendent of Charleston’s first Jewish school.