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Most of the state’s 11,000 Jews live in Charleston (4,500), Columbia (3,500), Greenville (1,500), and Myrtle Beach (425). Jewish life dates back to the 17th century, when Sephardic Jews first arrived from Europe and the West Indies. In the late 18th century Jewish communities took hold in Charleston and in Columbia. The fortunes of the state’s Jews rose and fell. At one point, Charleston was the leading Jewish community in North America. The state’s Jews fought in the Civil War, but during Reconstruction many left. In the late 19th century an influx of Jews arrived from eastern Europe. Today, there are seven Reform and four Conservative synagogues in the state.

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