Jewish Stars in Texas

Jewish Stars in Texas : Rabbis and Their Work

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Only a fraction of Texans are Jewish, yet Texas rabbis are among the most influential, colorful, and celebrated figures in the state's history and culture. In "Jewish Stars in Texas", Hollace Ava Weiner examines eleven rabbis whose wisdom and leadership extended throughout their communities. In Texas, there was little entrenched Jewish tradition, and as a result, Judaism in Texas developed with elements of the Old West as well as the Old Testament. "Jewish Stars in Texas" covers a time span from the first large wave of Jewish immigrants in the 1870s, through those who came to Texas in the 1920s. The influence of these Texas rabbis - whether it involved fighting the Ku Klux Klan or founding a symphony - can be appreciated by everyone who benefited from the causes they championed, the works they commissioned, and the religious and social harmony for which they strived.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 328 pages
  • 154.9 x 233.7 x 22.9mm | 498.96g
  • Texas A & M University Press
  • College Station, United States
  • English
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • 25 b&w photos, 1 map, bib., index
  • 1585444944
  • 9781585444946

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Texas Jews may be only a small proportion of the state's population, but their leaders have often shone as unlikely stars in this Bible Belt state. Grounded in the culture that gave rise to Christianity and thus sharing many of the community's values, rabbis schooled outside the region brought erudition and an exotic individuality to the frontier. Furthermore, a rabbi's prophetic sense of social justice, honed through centuries of Talmudic thought, gave a Hebrew minister moral clout in a vigilante climate.Because Texas synagogues were small, rabbis served entire communities, evolving into public figures recruited for an array of roles. They blessed stock shows and rodeos. They founded hospitals, symphonies, and charities. They broadcast Sunday sermons over the radio. They challenged the Ku Klux Klan and fought for academic freedom and prison reform. Their names are etched on cornerstones and scrawled on state documents. Welcomed as leaders of the Chosen People, rabbis thrived, and many stayed their entire careers.Rabbis who accepted a call to the Lone Star State when it was still on the edge of the frontier often ventured out West as a last resort. Some were freelancers, never ordained. Others came because they had no better pulpit offers. A number had left Europe as rebels, seeking to escape traditional religious practices. These maverick rabbis were drawn to places with little Jewish history or hierarchy -- communities such as Beaumont, Galveston, Fort Worth, Lubbock, El Paso, and Tyler -- where they created their own religious blueprints.This thoroughly researched and engaging volume, covering a time span from the 1870s through the 1920s, tells the lively stories of elevenrabbis, their lives, and their Texas towns, from big cities such as Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio to the remote locales of Hempstead and Brownsville. Sit back and enjoy Texas history through rabbinical eyes.show more

Review quote

"These biographies engage not just because they record a Jewish heritage that might otherwise be lost; they command our attention, rather, because they frequently speak of heroism, of people who chose to act rather than simply to accept the status quo."show more

About Hollace Ava Weiner

HOLLACE AVA WEINER, a native of Washington, D.C., graduated from the University of Maryland and was a journalist with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Her research into Texas rabbis has been published in American Jewish History, and Quiet Voices: Southern Rabbis and Black Civil Rights.show more

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