Up until now, the Southern Charm cast was made entirely of WASPs with a Huguenot sprinkle, from the families of Thomas Ravenel and Kathryn Dennis. The closest Southern Charm came to a Jewish cast member was Patricia Altschul, who is, well, Jewish adjacent, as Patricia’s last husband, the late Arthur Altschul, was Jewish, but Patricia and her son Whitney are not. But now, with Southern Charm Savannah, the franchise officially has its first Jewish cast member with Daniel Eichholz.
Southern Charm Savannah, which drew a respectable 757,000 viewers last night, has a core cast of six friends who have known each other since childhood, though in the premiere, it was revealed that they weren’t all friends back at Savannah Country Day School, says the Inquisitr. And while Bravo is saying that Southern Charm Savannah has a personality counterpart in the original Southern Charm, there is a loose interpretation. The press has suggested that there is a link between friend of the cast Nelson Lewis and Thomas Ravenel, as both come from wealthy families, and both have had embarrassing brushes with the law that have left them with a bit of a black eye around town.
When fans tuned in last night, they were introduced to the whole cast and got an interesting history lesson from Daniel Eichholz, who is said to be the Shep Rose of Southern Charm Savannah, as he is a consummate ladies’ man, and like Shep, Daniel comes from an “old family.” And while Daniel Eichholz’s family has been in Savannah since the days of the American Revolution, the difference is that Daniel’s family is Jewish, and Daniel is still a member of the Orthodox synagogue his family founded. Bravo gave Daniel’s bona fides including his Jewish credentials in their press materials for Southern Charm Savannah.
“[Daniel’s] family ties to Savannah run deep, traced back to the days of the American Revolution. His ancestors founded the first synagogue in Georgia, and one of the first in the United States.”
Jewish fans of Southern Charm have likely been thinking that, finally, we have a cast member of a favorite franchise who is less pimento cheese on white bread and more a poppyseed bagel with schmear, nova, and some wonderful salty sable. And while many of the Southern Charm faithful thought there weren’t many Jews that far south, it turns out that Savannah actually has three synagogues, according to Daniel, who is proud of his family’s Savannah Jewish heritage.
“My family is very tight. My ancestor Mordecai Shefftal had tried to settle in the cities above and north of Savannah but they didn’t really want Jews there. However, because Mordechai was a doctor saving lives, his expertise was in demand and he settled there. He collected a lot of properties and was the highest ranking Jewish officer in the revolutionary war.”
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And though there are three Savannah synagogues, there is still a sense of what some call “Jewish geography,” as everyone in the Savannah Jewish community seems to know each other in a way that is less six degrees of separation and more like two degrees.
“Everyone knows each other within the Jewish community, like I know who the Jewish jeweler is and Jews tend to look out for each other and recommend people for different things. A lot of times for me, it’s the people I already know that I’m looking out for.”
Daniel explains that even though he attends the Orthodox synagogue, he is not Orthodox himself, but enjoys the traditions it provides.
“I grew up in a traditional Jewish home where we did something for Shabbos, like Friday night dinner each week. I’m not as good at keeping all the rules as I’d like to be… I go to the shul (synagogue) on shabbos (the Jewish Sabbath which is on Saturdays) and for some bar and bat mitzvahs. I’m not orthodox, but I really like my orthodox synagogue because the people in charge are so loving, kind and amazing to me”
In an interview with the Jewish Journal, Daniel Eichholz managed to charm writer Ilana Angel, who came to the meeting skeptical at the way he would represent Jews everywhere on reality television. But she stated that after interviewing Daniel, and watching the first episode, she was, well, kvelling (beaming with pride in Yiddish). Another part of the fascinating story of Daniel’s family involved his ancestors trying to come to America and being turned away because of their religion. But on one attempt, they were allowed entry because people were ill and needed a doctor, and the head of his family was a physician. To that end, Daniel is a proud Jew, and a proud Southerner, and yes, you can be both.
One interesting note about the Southern Charm Savannah new Jewish poster boy, he says he has never dated a Jewish girl, but that he would like to, and he would also like to marry a Jewish girl (oy, his Bubbe must be so happy!).
Did you watch last night’s Southern Charm Savannah? Were you surprised by Daniel Eichholz’s Savannah Jewish family story?
[Featured Image by Bravo]