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Russell St., historic hub of Orangeburg's commercial life, was home to Jewish merchants for over 160 years. German Jews began settling in Orangeburg in the 1830s, followed in the next century by Eastern European Jews. Deopold Louis was likely the first Jewish merchant in town. Theodore Kohn, known as father of Orangeburg's graded schools, co-founded Ezekial & Kohn in 1868. By the mid-1900's as many as 15 stores downtown were Jewish owned. In 1996 Barshay & Marcus was the last to close.
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Temple Sinai, built in 1955 on Ellis Ave., became the center of religious life for Jews who lived in Orangeburg and surrounding towns. As in many small towns in S.C., in the second half of the 20th century descendants of Jewish merchants moved to larger cities in the state and beyond. Noted past residents include Robert F. Furchgott, a Nobel Prize-winning biochemist, and Evelyn Marcus, the first woman from Orangeburg County admitted to the S.C. Bar.