Storchnest, South Prussia.
|Residence||Charleston, South Carolina|
|Esther G. (Hetty) Barrett|
|Children||Isaac Barrett, Joseph, Gustavus Jr., Sarah|
Gustavus Poznanski was born in 1804 in Storchnest, South Prussia. He left Poland in 1824. He then spent time in Hamburg and Bremen, where he learned about Reform, before emigrating to the United States.
In 1836, he joined Congregation Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim in Charleston, South Carolina, home to a traditionalist congregation. The building burned down in 1838. As it was rebuilt in 1839, Poznanski suggested adding an organ to the new synagogue building. The idea was rejected by the traditionalist rabbis, but after a petition in favor of it was presented to him, the organ was built nonetheless. As a result, the traditionalist rabbi left for the Shearith Israel synagogue and Poznanski became the rabbi of the newly constructed Beth Elohim synagogue. In 1841, after the new synagogue was constructed, he famously said, "This synagogue is our temple, this city our Jerusalem, this happy land our Palestine, and as our fathers defended with their lives that temple, that city and that land, so will their sons defend this temple, this city and this land." He added, "America is our Zion and Washington our Jerusalem." Thus, he saw America as the Jewish promised land.
In 1843, he suggested not observing the second days of Passover, leading to a court case. The matter was only resolved in 1846, when his Reform position won. He also carried out his services in English rather than Hebrew. Additionally, he implemented a three-year reading cycle of the Torah, the removal of the reading of the Haftarah, and the recital of only one kaddish during funerals. These changes were supported by Abraham Moise (1799-1869), the former President of the Reformed Society of Israelites, who served on the Board of Trustees of the Congregation Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim.
He died in 1879.