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"M" is for Moïse, Penina (1787-1880)

South Carolina From A to Z
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.

Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.