Zalkin’s Kosher Meat and Poultry Market


King Street
Charleston, SC 29401


In 1903, Joseph Zalkin (1890-1954), a native of the Vilna governate of the Russian Empire, boarded the ship SS Roordam in Rotterdam, the Netherlands to immigrate to the United States. Weeks later, on December 15, 1903, he arrived in New York City. Initially working in that metropolis as a plumber, Zalkin had moved to Charleston by 1912, where his father, Robert Zalkin (1860-1923), operated a meat market at 470 King Street. This market was originally established by relative Harris Zalkin (birth/death undetermined) around 1907. Robert became the owner of the market by 1909.


Although he helped run his father’s meat market part-time in the mid-1910s, Joseph continued to work as a plumber until 1918. That year he joined his father’s business full-time as a butcher and cattle buyer. Taking over the meat market upon his father’s death in 1923, Joseph remained proprietor of the business until it was bought out by Alex Lash around 1950.


Joseph’s son, Robert M. Zalkin (1925-2006), who worked for the family business as a delivery boy and cared for the cattle leading up to their slaughter, described the meat market in his oral history archived in the College of Charleston Jewish Heritage Collection:


“The meat market was like a meeting place. We had chairs on one side, the old meat market, and sawdust on the floor, live chickens in one window, and fish in another window. We had a third window because we had a little section next to that where we used to keep live chickens all the time and ducks and at different times of the year, like the fall of the year, we had turkeys, live turkeys in there. My dad used to make pickles, always kept a big barrel of pickles in the middle of the floor, and people would reach in with their dirty hands and get a pickle out and they’d sit down and eat on it and finally bring a nickel up to the counter. It was a meeting place for a lot of the women also. They would talk about whatever was happening at home or what they were going to make for dinner.”

Main Image: Joseph’s daughter, Lilly Zalkin Bebergal (1920-1997) stands in the doorway of Zalkin’s Kosher Meat and Poultry Market, 1942. Courtesy of Robert Zalkin and Special Collections, College of Charleston Libraries.


Above Image: Robert Zalkin (1860-1923), c. 1900. Courtesy of Robert Zalkin and Special Collections, College of Charleston Libraries.


Above Image: Joseph Zalkin and his son, Irvin (1918-1995), at Glenn Springs, SC, 1927. Courtesy of Special Collections, College of Charleston Libraries.

The Jewish Merchant Project is supported by the generosity of the Henry & Sylvia Yaschik Foundation and the Stanley B. Farbstein Endowment at the Coastal Community Foundation.

JHSSC Office
Sylvia Vlosky Yaschik Jewish Studies Center
96 Wentworth Street
Charleston, SC 29424
Phone: 843 953 3918