Whistling "Dixie" While Humming "Ha-Tikvah": Acculturation and Activism among Orthodox Jews in Fort Worth

Article excerpt

Fort Worth's Jewish history is a tale of two congregations--in common parlance, a "temple" and a "shul." At the shul, Ahavath Sholom, a traditional congregation dating to 1892, men and women sat separately, worshipers davened in Hebrew, and minutes were written in Yiddish. The temple, chartered a decade later and named Beth-El, originated as a Classical Reform congregation that dispensed with head coverings, prayer shawls, chuppahs, and all but a few lines of Hebrew. Although the shul was the pioneer institution forging a local Jewish communal identity, it has received scant attention from historians on its home turf and from those surveying Orthodox Judaism on a national level. (1)

One reason for this oversight is that Reform Jews have long dominated the popular image of southern Jewry. Those who became Reform arrived earliest--before the Civil War in Fort Worth--and rapidly integrated into commercial and civic affairs. Despite the turn-of-the century proliferation of immigrant congregations whose members observed Jewish dietary laws and championed Zionism, notes Leonard Rogoff, "Classical Reform is usually taken as the normative religion of the Southern Jew." (2) Bolstering this perception, observes demographic historian Lee Shai Weissbach, is the fact that many of the oldest congregations in the small-town South adopted Reform Judaism early in the movement's history, and their leaders were often visible in civic affairs. (3)

Another reason Fort Worth's Orthodox community was omitted from a number of survey articles is that it did not formally affiliate with a major branch of Judaism until 1992. Congregants at Ahavath Sholom (and those in many small-town congregations across Texas) waged a tug-of-war between Orthodoxy and Conservatism, between traditional practices and American influences. Because Ahavath Sholom remained unaffiliated, its rabbis and auxiliary organizations were not written up in regional and national publications that reported news, views, and activities of various denominations. The congregation fell below the radar.

Yet another reason for overlooking Fort Worth--as well as smaller Texas locales with vintage Orthodox congregations--is that the region is situated in a far corner of the Diaspora, 1,500 miles southwest of New York and 993 miles south of Chicago. Orthodox Judaism is most commonly associated with large concentrations of Jews residing in urban areas. Fort Worth's Jewish community has never totaled more than 0.2 of a percent of the city's population. (At the start of the twenty-first century, the city had more than half a million people but fewer than three thousand Jews, who represented less than 0.1 percent of the populace.) From afar, the little Texas shul in a city nicknamed Cowtown appeared out of the mainstream. But was it?

A decade ago, volunteers in Fort Worth began systematically archiving materials pertaining to the local Jewish community. A Yiddish minute book, dating from 1898 to 1905, was rediscovered. This legal-sized ledger contained the minutes of 145 meetings. It was a metaphorical Rosetta Stone, for the handwritten Yiddish constituted yet another obstacle to unlocking the institution's past. During a four-year period, a volunteer team of two Yiddish speakers and one typist translated and transcribed the 199-page volume. (4)

The reward was a mother lode of information, such as the identity of the congregation's first rabbi (who was fired after two months), the date of his hiring (January 10, 1904), and the reason for seeking a Jewish professional after more than a decade without one (to supervise the Talmud Torah, as the religious school was known, and to "be a teacher for the children"). (5) The minutes also pinpoint the start of the congregation's struggle over Orthodox affiliation--a contentious vote in 1898 against joining the newly formed Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America. (6) Also mentioned are efforts at sophistication, through the purchase of spittoons, and the persistence of superstitious customs such as shlogn kapores, twirling a chicken above the head to atone for sins prior to Yore Kippur. (7)

The minutes demonstrate that Ahavath Sholom communicated regularly with the rest of the Jewish universe. Its board of directors corresponded with sister congregations in Dallas (forty miles east) and Waco (ninety miles south), evidence of a regional network among observant Jews. (8) When Laredo's Jews suffered the effects of a yellow fever epidemic, the elders at Ahavath Sholom donated five dollars to assist them. (9) When Jewish pimps and prostitutes moved into Fort Worth's red-light district, dubbed Hell's Half Acre, a delegation from Ahavath Sholom warned Dallas's Shearith Israel about the moral menace. (10)

The Yiddish press was another vehicle of communication. According to the minutes, the shul publicized the names of its officers and advertised for its rabbis in national Yiddish newspapers. (11) In 1903 outrage over pogroms in the Bessarabian town of Kishinev led to headline news culminating in a "mass meeting" at Fort Worth's City Hall Auditorium. Elected politicians joined Ahavath Sholom's officers in a proclamation denouncing the Russian czar. (12) These connections demonstrate that after little more than a decade the immigrant Orthodox congregation had established links with regional and international Jewry, had begun acculturating to American democratic norms, and had become a player in civic affairs. (13)

The minutes convey not only matters of substance but also style. Many words and phrases are written in anglicized Yiddish. They provide a veritable tape recording of voices from a century ago. One can practically hear the participants' accents: A motion is muft and seconded. Some trustees are apsent from the mitin'. (14) They heat their shul with a woodburning shtof. (15) The custodian who kindles the fire on Shabbos morning and opens the coytans is called the dzheniter, and he is paid with kes. (16) The minutes use the verb fiksen when it is necessary to repair a fence, a water closet, a stove, or a sefer torah. (17) The vice president's title is sometimes incorrectly abbreviated in English as "W.P." (18) The synagogue is referred to throughout as the "kong," an abbreviation for the English "congregation." The Purim ball is a big sukses. (19)

Having a Purim ball at all, much less one attended by the mayor and reported on in the morning newspaper, shows the transformation and Americanization of a Jewish holiday into a masquerade akin to Halloween or Mardi Gras. Rather than dressing up as the Persian Queen Esther or King Ahasuerus, Purim partygoers came costumed as nuns, police officers, magicians, and "Chinamen" (figure 1). Similar secularized Purim celebrations occurred not only in Fort Worth but also in Orthodox Jewish communities in North Carolina, South Carolina, New York State, and elsewhere. (20)


In sum, Congregation Ahavath Sholom's milestones and transitions qualify it as a "proto-typical American synagogue of the 1890s," as described by historian Jeffrey S. Gurock. (21) He observes that immigrant shuls served as "half-way" houses for American Judaism as it evolved from being an "exponent of East European traditions" into a "reflector" of American social patterns. (22) Though located in the hinterlands, the Fort Worth shul did not operate in isolation. It remained in step with developments at traditional immigrant synagogues across North America.

The congregation's history also serves as a case study of an unusual pattern. In most Texas cities of comparable or larger size--Dallas, Houston, Victoria, or Tyler, for example, and, indeed, across the South and Midwest--Jewish entrepreneurs who arrived before the 1880s established congregations in their new hometownsy. (23) These generally began as traditional synagogues that rapidly evolved into Reform Jewish institutions. Lee Shai Weissbach has noted this trajectory throughout the United States. (24)

In Fort Worth, however, the first wave of well-established Jews did not initially launch a congregation. The later-arriving east European Jews took the lead, chartering a congregation that became the cornerstone of a Jewish community and the catalyst for creating and revitalizing other Jewish institutions.

Chronology: Westward Ho!

Jewish settlers began trickling into Fort Worth in 1854, when it was a frontier town subject to Comanche raids. The earliest Jewish pioneers hailed from Prussia, Poland, Louisiana, and Tennessee. They were entrepreneurs who gravitated to smaller, more remote American towns because they yearned to be self-employed. Texas was often their place of second settlement. (25) After the Civil War and Reconstruction, a handful of Jewish war veterans arrived in Fort Worth with their extended families. Most had fought for the Confederacy, but not all. Some, like the Mayers, an extended family from Indiana that went into the liquor business, had been in the Union ranks. (26) In 1876, the year the railroad reached Fort Worth, three B'nai B'rith members from Dallas visited to launch a Fort Worth lodge of the international order. (27) Three years later, when the city had grown to 6,600 residents and the Jewish community to around 150, a local civic figure set aside land for three cemeteries, designating acreage for Protestants, for African Americans, and for "the Israelites of the City." (28) The Jews named their one-acre cemetery Emanuel Hebrew Rest and formed the Emanuel Hebrew Association. (29) During the 1880s, economic downturns and epidemics of smallpox and yellow fever afflicted the frontier town. (30) The B'nai B'rith lodge disintegrated, and the cemetery association floundered. (31) Visiting rabbis from Dallas and Galveston attempted to start religious schools. (32)

All such efforts failed until the second wave of Jews began reaching Fort Worth in the mid-to-late 1880s. These were mainly Polish Jews who were driven out of eastern Europe by the May Laws, repressive Czarist decrees that banned Jews from rural areas, placed quotas on Jews in higher education and the professions, and provided the impetus for mass emigration. Among those Jewish immigrants who settled in Fort Worth were Rachael Jacobs (1856-1942) and Joe Jacobs (1858-1944), a married couple who eventually opened a restaurant and saloon. In a typical chain-migration pattern, their relative, Moses Shanblum (1852-1940), emigrated from Poland in 1887 and settled in Fort Worth. Borrowing money from fellow Jews, Shanblum filled a backpack with household notions and peddled to surrounding farm and ranch towns. With his earnings he bought a cart, then a horse and buggy, and finally moved his business into a downtown storefront. By 1891 he was raising a family with his young wife, Gitel. His younger brother, Louis F. Shanblum (1862-1925), followed him to Fort Worth, where he acquired the nickname "L. F." and borrowed money to fill a peddler's pack. (33)

With his extended family settled in Fort Worth, Moses Shanblum made his next priority the establishment of a central Jewish institution. He was adamant that loans for a backpack were an insufficient expression of community, as were the existing provisions for religious services. "When I came to Fort Worth in the year 1887," he told the locally published Jewish Monitor, "I found only six Jewish families who worshiped in a private house on the Holidays." (34) He began organizing a morning and an evening minyan that met in homes and stores. On October 9, 1892, Moses Shanblum, his cousin Joe, and his brother L. F. were among the ten to fifteen Jewish men who gathered in the living room of a fellow immigrant, produce vendor William Goldstein. They organized Congregation Ahavath Sholom. (35)

As the congregation evolved over the next two decades, it shared common characteristics with immigrant shuls across America. It was often cash poor. It had trouble drawing a minyan on Saturday mornings but nonetheless paid a shabbes goy forty cents to kindle a fire in the stove. (36) It hired a shochet, Mr. Rosenbaum. (37) An annual frenzy of activity preceded the High Holidays when several-dozen chairs were rented and tickets were sold (for up to $3 a family) to accommodate Jews who were not members of the congregation. (38) To the dismay of the congregation's officers, worshippers carried their chairs outdoors into the fenced-in yard, apparently to kibitz rather than pray. (39) As the immigrants acculturated and attendance increased, the board installed electric fans and became mindful of decorum, asking congregants to hush noisy youngsters. (40) Although the shul's officers yearned to increase the membership, acceptance was not automatic. Ad hoc committees screened each applicant for integrity. A few were rejected over matters of morals and ethics. (41) Such protocol demonstrates that the shul was a peer group of significance, one of the few places in which a recent immigrant could gain position and stature.

In all of these aspects, Ahavath Sholom's early narrative does not bear the distinctive stamp of the Texas environment but instead parallels the story line of Orthodox synagogues across the country, like the Rochester, New York, Congregation Beth Israel, which has been profiled in a study by Abraham Karp. (42) In Fort Worth, as elsewhere, the Orthodox congregation founded by a minyan of diehards progressed from a one-room worship space designed for Old World camaraderie into a multipurpose institution that sought to transmit Judaism to the next generation.

In Fort Worth, Moses Shanblum and the co-founders of Ahavath Sholom became its officers, its trustees, and its aristocracy, holding onto board positions for most of their lives. Shanblum remained the backbone, what Abraham Karp describes as "the strong man." (43) Once Ahavath Sholom received its state charter at the close of 1892, Shanblum began to raise money for a building. Wearing his trademark black coat and black bowler, a decidedly foreign form of dress in West Texas, Shanblum went from door to door, shop to shop, and peddler to peddler, soliciting money and persuading fellow Jews "that a synagogue was more important than a new buggy or suit" (figure 2.). (44) He stuffed cash contributions into the sweatband of his hat. Within two years Ahavath Sholom purchased a $1,000 lot located twenty blocks from the downtown courthouse, far from where most of the Jews resided but affordable. By I895 Shanblum had raised another $640 to construct Fort Worth's first Jewish house of worship, a one-story, wood-frame building with a shingle roof. (45)


Despite having a synagogue of its own, the immigrant congregation had difficulty gathering a minyan on the Sabbath. "There should be a minyan every Saturday," declared the minutes of January 12, 1896. (46) Evidently, the press of business and the lengthy walking distance to the shul led congregants to break the Sabbath. The congregation's board tried two strategies for attracting more participants. The first was to convince the city's unaffiliated, American-born, and American-reared Jews to join Ahavath Sholom. A handful already had. To that end, on January 8, 1899, the board appointed a four-man "Committee to Try to Unite All Jews." The reasoning, according to the minutes, was that "there should be unity in the community. There should be a minyan of Jews every Sabbath and yom tov [holiday] in shul. And there should be no other minyanim." Two months later, despite a strong feeling that "there should be unity [among Jews] and not be two entities in the city," the committee reported back that it "had not succeeded." Apparently there was an effort afoot to launch a rival Reform congregation, and the movement was perceived as a threat. (47)

The shul's alternate strategy for increasing membership was to relocate near the central business core, closer to areas of Jewish concentration. But that took money. Often the congregation's treasury, which was taken home with the treasurer and not deposited in a bank, dipped below one dollar. The main source of income was dues of fifty cents per month. During a good month up to twenty-six people paid. The annual Purim Ball, advertised in the local papers and attended by politicians and non-Jewish friends, brought in up to $60 in profits. (48) In 1900 those profits and additional donations were spent on chuppah poles, costing $2.60, and for the $64 down payment on a $95 Torah scroll. (49) That was the year when a local shochet, Mr. Friedman, sued the congregation for $75, his supposed fee for leading Shavuot services. With legal assistance from Jewish attorney Max K. Mayer, a Fort Worth native who did not belong to the shul, the shochet was persuaded to settle out of court for $15. (50)

Throughout 1901 the board searched for downtown real estate and began soliciting money for a building fund. By December the trustees made a down payment on a $1,665 piece of land, a 50-by-100-foot lot at 819 Taylor Street, a thoroughfare already home to several churches and a number of prominent Jewish merchants who were not affiliated with the shul. (51) Within weeks the congregation had sold its original plot of land for $650, sold the fence that surrounded it, and paid professional house movers $80 to transport their building to the downtown location. By the time the board paid closing costs and moving fees, repaired the sidewalk, and seeded the yard, the treasury was nearly empty, down to thirty-five cents. (52) But Ahavath Sholom's little frame synagogue was finally downtown, giving Jews a prominent space in the local religious constellation.

Galvanizing the Jewish Community

With its increased visibility the shul began attracting a stream of new members, among them families willing to pay extra for their children's religious instruction. A Sunday school was established in 1903, and it quickly expanded into a Talmud Torah with classes on weekends plus five days a week after public school. Every child was accepted, whether or not his or her parents were dues-paying members at the shul. A rabbi was hired to supervise the school, his salary paid through contributions solicited from parents and the congregation's elders.

Here again developments in Fort Worth parallel activities elsewhere. In America the Orthodox rabbi was not hired primarily to serve as a halakhic authority or to adjudicate matters of Jewish law, as was the case in the old country. He was hired, notes historian Abraham Karp, to be a "teacher-preacher," who taught Judaism to the next generation. (53) During the High Holy Days, he might deliver a sermon or lead a portion of the service, but the rabbi's primary role was keeping order among unruly children. Ahavath Sholom's first rabbi, identified as Rabbi Korn, was dismissed after a two-month "fair trial" because he was no match for the children. Two days later Rabbi G. Halpern arrived. (54) He kept order in the classroom and remained with the congregation at least through 1905, the period covered in the minute book. Ahavath Sholom's experience with its first two rabbis demonstrates the evolving role of the rabbi from interpreter of Jewish law into an educator and employee responsible for Jewish continuity. (55)

The shul's new downtown visibility had another, unintended consequence. Within nine months, forty-three of the city's highly acculturated Jews launched a Reform congregation, Beth-E1, and began renting space elsewhere on Taylor Street. (56) The Reform congregation did not inhibit the growth of the traditional shul. With double the number of synagogues, local newspapers gave the Jewish community more coverage, and affiliation increased at both. (57) Similar to Jewish communal patterns in Rochester, the relationships between neighboring synagogues proved to be both "complementary and competitive." (58)

Part of the competition was for members with Old World roots and New World sophistication. Although membership grew at both institutions, there were defectors from within the ranks of Ahavath Sholom. The deserters included Louis Weltman (1856-1918), a Prussian Jew who had come to Texas in 1875 and was listed on the shul's 1893 roster. Weltman, a peddler-turned-merchant and saloon proprietor, had six American-born children and fit in comfortably among the more acculturated families at the Reform congregation. (59) Another member of the shul, Henry Gernsbacher (1858-1936), one of the state's leading merchants of pots, pans, and kitchen utensils, joined Ahavath Sholom in August 1901 and then resigned the following May, four months before he called an organizing meeting that led to creation of a Reform temple. (60)

The hardest blow to Ahavath Sholom was the exodus of its immediate past president, David Brown (1850-1926). Brown owned the South Fort Worth Ice Factory and Bottling Works, "manufacturers of crystal ice and strictly high-grade beverages." (61) Although German-born, Brown had family ties to eastern Europe. He spoke and read Yiddish. He had arrived in the United States in 1880 and settled in Moore's Landing, Mississippi, joining his relatives, the Simons, who had emigrated from Yanova (now Janova), Lithuania, in 1873. (62) When an 1882. Mississippi River flood washed Moore's Landing out of existence, the extended family moved to Tyler, a thriving East Texas county seat that had served as a supply depot for the Confederacy. (63) There David Brown and family patriarch Uriah Simon were partners in the ice business. In 1887 they were among fifty-three Jewish men to charter Tyler's Congregation Beth El, a synagogue that rapidly transitioned from traditional to Reform. (64) Five years after the congregation's founding, Simon died at age forty-nine, leaving a wife, four daughters, and two sons. By then Brown had married Simon's eldest daughter, Sarah (1866-1941), and assumed the role of head of the household. He moved with some of the family to Fort Worth around 1897 and purchased an ice factory with a fifteen-ton capacity. He also joined Ahavath Sholom and in 1899 was elected treasurer. (65)

During Brown's term as shul treasurer, Ahavath Sholom's president, William Goldstein, suffered business reversals. He confided his dire financial straits to the board. Accordingly, the minutes of January 22, 1900, report, "Brother W. Goldstein is in distress, and required assistance." (66) If he could borrow three hundred dollars, Goldstein was confident he could start business anew and repay his debts. Fort Worth did not yet have a Hebrew Free Loan Association; that would come in I907. (67) Brown, however, was familiar with such communal institutions and stepped forward with a financial plan. If the board of trustees would serve as the banking agency, he would loan the congregation $300 to give Goldstein interest free, to be repaid to the board in $50 installments every six months. All parties agreed. Subsequently, Goldstein resigned the presidency and repaid the loan under the set terms. Brown was elected as his successor and served from 1899 until the autumn of 1901. (68)

Brown's resignation from Ahavath Sholom in September 1902 to become a founding board member of the Reform congregation apparently created an irreparable rift. Evidence of lingering resentment is the fact that his name does not appear on subsequent lists of the shul's past presidents. Anniversary book after anniversary book omits his name. A wall at the synagogue adorned with framed photo portraits of past presidents does not include Brown's countenance. His obituaries in the Jewish Monitor of December 17, 1926, eulogize him as an "ardent Jew, ... patriarch of Israel, ... business man of startling integrity," and a stalwart at the temple. He is the only person to have been president of both the temple (in 1904) and the shul (1899-1901), yet the obituaries are silent about his leadership at Ahavath Sholom. (69)

Brown's decision to forsake the shul for the temple bespeaks recurring strains within emerging Jewish communities. Disputes, conflicts, and schisms were not uncommon at immigrant congregations. Historian Leonard Rogoff, who has researched North Carolina's turn-of-the-century Jews, chronicles clashes that ended up in civil court litigation. At the root of the animosities were issues of tradition and modernity as well as financial tensions. Inevitably, "friction among members" and disagreements over ritual led to splinter groups and new congregations. (70)

In Fort Worth a social divide was also evident between the shul and the new temple. The temple's founding meeting was at the Knights of Pythias Hall, the city's oldest lodge, indicating a high degree of upward mobility and social integration among Beth-El's founders and the city's civic elite. (71) In contrast, the shul's founding meeting a decade before had been in the home of a struggling fruit vendor. None of the temple's founders were newcomers to the region. Of those who can be traced through U. S. Census records, four were native Texans and three were Midwesterners, including an attorney from Cincinnati, the seat of the Reform movement. Two brothers who were notaries public and land appraisers were Mississippi natives and the sons of a Confederate soldier. Five others were born in and around Memphis and New Orleans. Fourteen or more of the charter congregants were foreign born, thirteen of them from German-speaking regions. All had left the continent in their youth and lived and worked in the United States much of their lives. Most of Beth-EI's charter members had done business or played cards together and fraternized and socialized with one another in Fort Worth for the previous two decades. They were too thoroughly integrated into mainstream America to feel at ease in a religious institution at which women sat apart and the liturgy was in a foreign tongue. They had a strong Jewish network, sans synagogue. (72)

Yet all of the city's Jews, whether at the temple or the shul, were well acquainted with one another and often worked together in religious pursuits. Everyone, for example, partied at the annual Purim ball. (73) The B'nai B'rith Lodge, organized in 1901, included successful merchants from both the shul and the temple. (74) All of the city's Jews shared the pioneer cemetery that dated to 1879.

The city's diverse Jewish population utilized the cemetery without incident until October 1901 when Almira E. Greenwall, the sixty-two-year-old wife of Phillip W. Greenwall, died. The officers at Ahavath Sholom suspected that the Greenwalls were an intermarried couple. Halakhah, or Jewish law, permits only Jews to be interred in a Jewish cemetery. Almira Greenwall's burial at Emanuel Hebrew Rest was an affront to the Orthodox Jewish community. According to the minutes of October 27, 1901:

   It was moved and seconded to appoint a committee to see the
   President of the Jewish cemetery and to learn whether Mrs.
   Greenwald [sic], who had just died, is a Jewish woman and, if not,
   to protest that one should not bury her in the Jewish cemetery.

The committee reported back on November 10, 1901, that the cemetery association's president was "quite satisfied that what they were doing was right." Phillip Greenwall, the widower, was manager of the popular Greenwall Opera House and had purchased a family plot with plans to install a large granite tombstone. (The plot eventually became the final resting place for him as well as his daughter, Mary, and his son-in-law, Charlie Fain, apparently another non-Jew.) (76) The board of trustees at Ahavath Sholom remained convinced that Almira Greenwall's interment was contrary to Jewish law. Her burial prompted Ahavath Sholom's president to appoint a committee to purchase land for a separate Orthodox cemetery. It took eight years to settle on a piece of property, but in 1909 Ahavath Sholom purchased six acres for $3,600, payable over the next six years. A Ladies Cemetery Society formed in 1909 to oversee the grounds. A chevra kadisha, a volunteer group to cleanse the bodies of the dead, was organized in 1910 when the first burial took place. During the next four years, ten more congregants were buried at the Orthodox cemetery. (77)

Almira Greenwall's death and burial in 1901 was an indicator of rising tensions among the city's Jews. Very likely it was a contributing factor that led to the formation of Beth-El Congregation in the autumn of 1902. Phillip Greenwall, still in mourning, was among the temple's founders. Yet tension was not enough of a basis on which to build a congregation. Within six months of its founding, the Reform congregation floundered, ceased holding services, and lapsed into inactivity until the spring of 1904. During that time Ahavath Sholom once again became the sole representative of Fort Worth's organized Jewry.

During Easter week 1903, news of the terrifying pogrom in Kishinev was reported by international wire services. The brutality became front-page news in Texas, where the Fort Worth Telegram's headlines read, "Terrible Scenes in Desolate Kishineff," "Horrible Atrocities," "Massacre of Jews," and "Anti-Semitic Feeling is Still Running High." (78) Ahavath Sholom's response was to spearhead a public protest meeting, one of thirty-eight held in cities across the United States, including three in Texas. (79) Besides Fort Worth, the other Texas cities were Texarkana and Dallas. Dallas's public gathering, jointly sponsored by Orthodox congregation Shearith Israel and the Young Men's Hebrew Social Club, was a benefit performance at the Acme Family Theater that raised $227. (80) "for sufferers of the Kishineff outrage." (81) In Texarkana Jews gathered at the local synagogue, Mount Sinai Congregation, home to both Orthodox and Reform Jews, and heard passionate speeches from the congregation's Rabbi Joseph Bogen and Jeannette Miriam Goldberg, an East Texas native who was field organizer for the National Council of Jewish Women. (81)

At the Fort Worth rally an audience of 325 sang "Dixie," a leading Methodist minister passionately protested the pogrom, and Mayor Thomas J. Powell, Congressman O. W. Gillespie, and former mayor B. B. Paddock delivered "ringing speeches," the morning newspaper reported. A letter from the governor was read aloud. The crowd donated fifty dollars for "Kishineff relief" and applauded a proclamation that deplored Russia's "uncivilized and un-Christian conduct," promised American support to end anti-Jewish persecution, and extended condolences to "our citizens who have been bereaved ... by the unhappy conditions prevailing in their mother country." (82) The themes enunciated during Fort Worth's public rally underscore how attuned these Jewish immigrants had become to American ways. They placed the trauma of the pogroms into an assault on shared American values. Rather than stressing ethnic and religious distinctiveness, they portrayed persecution of Russian Jews as contrary to American ideals of democracy and religious freedom. (83)

The empathy of local dignitaries and the subsequent resettlement of more east European families in Fort Worth no doubt fostered the growth of the Ahavath Zion Society, which dated to 1900. In 1905, representatives from Fort Worth and five other cities met in Houston to form the Texas Zionist Association. (84) The following year, the Fort Worth Zionist District hosted the Texas Zionist Association's second annual convention. (85) The state convention was a catalyst for the creation in 1907 of the city's Young Men and Daughters of Zion, a group of seventy-five teenagers who met twice monthly for picnics, parties, and Zionist lectures. (86) The network of Zionist activity in Fort Worth demonstrates once again the local Orthodox community's links with world Jewry. (87) Although Jews in the South are often viewed through the more conspicuous Reform congregations, which tended to be anti-Zionist, pro-Zionist societies and activities flourished among Orthodox congregations in Texas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Arkansas, and Virginia. Indeed, the Texas Zionist Association was considered a model that other states followed (figure 3). (88)


Zionist groups also opened leadership positions beyond the synagogue for Orthodox Jews and created avenues for interaction with the non-Jewish community. For example, one of the city's leading Baptists, the fundamentalist Reverend J. Frank Norris, visited Palestine and returned a zealous Zionist. He was invited to speak at the monthly meeting of the Fort Worth Zionist District. To introduce the preacher, the Zionists invited a man of equal stature, Dr. G. George Fox, rabbi at the Reform congregation. Although Fox was not a Zionist, he accepted the honor. The Fort Worth Zionist District customarily concluded its meetings by singing the Zionist anthem, "Ha-Tikvah." That evening the group also sang "The Star Spangled Banner" and "Dixie," displaying patriotism toward the nation and sensitivity to the region. (89) The guests on the podium and the musical selections demonstrate how these Orthodox Jews balanced and blended American, Southern, and Jewish norms.

Whither the Women?

Prior to the Kishinev protest, Jewish women were scarcely mentioned in the minutes of the city's Orthodox shul. Periodically a widow was thanked by name for assisting with a Purim ball. Occasionally a small contribution was received toward building a mikvah, the bath that Jewish women traditionally visit monthly for ritual cleansing. During preparations for the annual High Holy Days, the minutes designated that females would sit on the south side of the synagogue and men on the north. (90) This demonstrates both a nod to tradition and to change, for although the women sat apart, they were not separated by a physical partition such as a curtain or grate (in Hebrew, a mechitzah). When the wood-frame building was replaced in 1906, however, the new brick synagogue had a women's balcony. (91)

Communal concern for the persecuted Jews of Kishinev led the city's Orthodox women to mobilize. In the wake of the public meeting, Fort Worth Jews began resettling refugee families placed by the Industrial Removal Office (IRO). (92) These families were so needy that in June 1903, ten days after the first immigrants arrived, thirty women from Ahavath Sholom formed a Ladies Hebrew Relief Society (LHRS). The purpose was to provide bedside care, food, and clothing as well as "friendship and sociability." (93) The group's founder was Texas-born Sarah Levy Shanblum, whose spouse, L. F. Shanblum, and father, Louis Levy, were among the founders of Ahavath Sholom. Shanblum's immigrant husband, a former Warsaw law student, was by then an affluent scrap-metal dealer. By dint of her family ties, her upward mobility, and her strong personality, Sarah Shanblum wielded influence (figure 4). Under her leadership the LHRS grew to include 120 women. The society collected monthly dues and organized picnics at which funds were raised to help immigrants cover medical bills, including travel to Denver's B'nai B'rith National Jewish Hospital for Consumptives. Shanblum wrote:

   During the cold winter months, or when the heads of the families
   are out of work or sick, the families are provided with coal
   .... Several sick women and children were restored to health, and
   many hundreds of dollars paid out for hospital fees and doctors
   .... In all the work done, most of it is such that the men could
   not attend to. (94)

Nor, apparently, would women affiliated with Beth-El, the Reform congregation, deliver such personal care.

The LHRS appears to have been a breakaway faction of the Fort Worth section of the National Council of Jewish Women. The council, the oldest Jewish women's organization in the city, had organized in the fall of 1901. It mainly appealed to Reform Jewish women, although its Fort Worth members included Sarah Shanblum and a few other native Texans whose immigrant parents were congregants at Ahavath Sholom. The council functioned partly as a temple auxiliary and partly as a civic women's club. It donated money to the Carnegie Public Library and participated in the city's municipal welfare council. When IRO immigrants began arriving in Fort Worth, the council donated $400 to their resettlement but declined to assist with volunteers--perhaps because so few of its members spoke Yiddish, or perhaps because of the social distance between them and the refugees. The council's reluctance to give first-hand assistance appears to have prompted Shanblum to launch the LHRS. Shanblum remained a member of the council, but never assumed a leadership role. The different priorities of the shul and the temple are evidenced by the divergent women's groups. The structure and relative independence of each organization, however, reflects the increasing assertiveness of Jewish women. (95)

The creation of the ladies' organization was not reported in the minutes of Ahavath Sholom. However, whenever the board of trustees needed to raise money to pay a legal fee or to underwrite a rabbinic salary, the LHRS was called upon to donate funds. (96) The women's activism and their money-raising acumen are part of a pattern evidenced in Jewish communities, large and small, traditional and Reform, across America. Historian Mark K. Bauman notes that although women turned their fund-raising dollars over to the men to spend, "it is a truism to say that money translates into power, and these women used their moneymaking acumen to impact on men's decisions." (97) Journalist Charles Wessolowsky, who traveled across the South in the late 1870s, observed a similar growth in the role of women's auxiliaries. According to Louis Schmier, who edited Wessolowsky's letters of that trip, "much of this change in communal role may have had an influence on and acted as a constant pressure to equalize institutional attitudes such as separating men and women in religious services." (98) Rogoff compares Jewish ladies' auxiliary organizations with church auxiliaries that raised money for houses of worship and missionary work abroad. (99)

Building a mikvah was apparently among the women's primary concerns at Ahavath Sholom. (100) According to the autobiographical writings of Galveston rabbi Schmuel Geller, the lack of a mikvah had stopped him from answering Ahavath Sholom's call for a rabbi in December 1903. Geller writes that he could not move his family to Fort Worth because his wife, Sara, "refused to even live in a community that did not have a mikvah. She held the strong conviction that all financial and material exigencies were secondary to the purity and kedushah [holiness] which her ethical and moral code demanded." (101)

In November 1904, eighteen months after the formation of the LHRS, a mikvah was completed at a cost of $439.82. (102) The trustees may have been shamed by criticism from the Galveston rabbi, or, perhaps the new immigrants desired this ritual in their lives. Possibly, the success of the LHRS and the women's new assertiveness had led Ahavath Sholom's officers to finance construction of the city's first ritual bath.


The activities and growth of Fort Worth's turn-of-the-century Orthodox community reflect steady acculturation. As congregants became fluent in English and the local vernacular, they developed ties to politicians at City Hall and to prominent Christian clergy. Despite small numbers and meager funds, the Orthodox community emerged as a player on the civic stage. The trajectory of Orthodox Jews in Fort Worth was neither insular nor assimilationist. They sought to integrate collectively into the mainstream while maintaining their distinct group identity. Fort Worth's Ahavath Sholom presents a case study of a turn-of-the-century synagogue that invites further comparisons with Orthodox synagogues in nearby Dallas and Waco, with congregations in small towns in which a Reform temple and a traditional shul coexisted, and with small towns where an Orthodox congregation created in the late-nineteenth century galvanized formation of rival Jewish congregations.

Judging from the data now available, the relevance of regionalism appears to be minimal in the evolution of Ahavath Sholom. (103) A chorus of "Dixie" may have added flavor and esprit de corps to public gatherings but little else. Rather than being distinctly southern or southwestern, the shul combined elements of Orthodox and Conservative Judaism that were common across the country. Ahavath Sholom gradually became "conservadox," embracing such American rituals in the 1920s as the confirmation ceremony for teenagers. Little by little women left the balcony and, by 1940, most females sat downstairs with their families. (104) A new building constructed in 1980 had no balcony. Still, women's participation remained a point of contention. Not until December 1992, when the congregation voted to affiliate with the Conservative movement, did women participate in Sabbath worship services as leaders. (105) The shul's rabbis, beginning with Charles Blumenthal in 1908, became acknowledged communal figures, who were invited to speak at secular gatherings and to participate in civic problem solving. Ahavath Sholom's patterns of development and integration into the local community demonstrate that southern congregations did not have to be classically Reform to gain acceptance. The congregation's small-town setting had more influence on its development than its geographic locale. The pull of Jewish traditions, the call of Zionism, and the push toward capitalism, pluralism, and volunteerism shaped this early Jewish community in a manner consistent with other immigrant congregations acclimating to American soil.

The experience of Ahavath Sholom teaches that far from urban centers of Jewish concentration, Orthodoxy did not always decline and disappear. Nor did it necessarily evolve into Reform Judaism. The endurance of a congregation like Ahavath Sholom--with a mikvah and a morning and evening minyan--is not an anomaly. Dallas's Shearith Israel, which dates to 1884, remains a strong Conservative congregation. Waco's Agudath Jacob, founded in 1886, joined the Conservative movement in 1966. (106)

Well into the twentieth century, traditional congregations in Texas with turn-of-the-century, east European roots persisted in small communities. In Brenham, for example, a central Texas town where a Reform Jew gave land for an Orthodox synagogue in 1892, B'nai Abraham Congregation persisted into the post-World War II years. It boasted three minyans a day, a mikvah, and a baseball team nicknamed the "Goose Eaters." Membership peaked at forty-five families, some of whom remained with the congregation for five generations. Women sat in the balcony until the 1950s, when they revolted, arguing that it was too hot to pray upstairs. (107) Regular worship services continued until the late 1950s, when the younger generation moved out and minyans dissipated through attrition. At the start of the twenty-first century, B'nai Abraham was in the hands of two loyal members, caretakers who installed air conditioning and kept the synagogue available for guided tours and occasional worship services. (108)

In agricultural Wharton, near the Texas Gulf coast, Shearith Israel, founded in 1899, remained a magnet for Jews for more than a century. In its heyday the congregation had 290 members drawn from four surrounding counties. Up to a thousand people visited the congregation's grounds for its annual summer barbecue. In 1914 Hadassah founder Henrietta Szold traveled to Wharton to launch Texas's first Hadassah circle. During Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur congregants who refrained from driving during the holidays slept on cots and rollaway beds in the synagogue's community hall. A member of the Conservative movement for part of its history, the congregation dropped its national affiliation at some point, probably for financial reasons. When Shearith Israel sought to rejoin the Conservative movement's United Synagogue of America, its application was rejected because it lacked a kosher kitchen. Nonetheless, many Shearith Israel congregants kept kosher, as did each successive rabbi. Those rabbis routinely drove from town to town, tutoring Jewish children in Hebrew. One rabbi taught a conversational Hebrew class for adults, and a local Episcopal priest enrolled. Wharton's Shearith Israel remained a traditional house of worship until it legally disbanded due to declining membership in 2002. (109)

Each of these traditional congregations had a presence in civic affairs. Despite small numbers, members did not evolve into Reform Jews. Rather, they gradually moved toward Conservative Jewish practices. Like Fort Worth's Ahavath Sholom, these Texas congregations generally did not affiliate with national denominational organizations for one reason or another, yet their ties to tradition remained remarkably mainstream. Contrary to stereotypes about Jews of the hinterlands, congregations with roots in nineteenth-century Orthodoxy persisted.

(1.) The most detailed narratives relating Ahavath Sholom's history are in the congregation's commemorative books, which essentially rewrite and condense the same details over and over without a fresh look at the primary sources. These anniversary volumes repeat erroneous dates, omit mention of one early president, and give misinformation about the origins of the Ladies Auxiliary. See Seventh-Fifth Anniversary Congregation Ahavath Sholom, Fort Worth, Texas, 1892-1967 (Fort Worth: Congregation Ahavath Sholom, 1967); Congregation Ahavath Sholom: 5741/1980 (Fort Worth: Congregation Ahavath Sholom, 1980); Congregation Ahavath Sholom 100th Anniversary, 1892-1992, 5658-5758 (Fort Worth: Congregation Ahavath Sholom, 1992). The Southwestern Jewish Sentiment, published in Dallas at the turn of the century and available in spotty sequence on microfilm, reported social news about Fort Worth's Reform Jews, not the Orthodox. The social columns are filled with details about whist parties, indicating a Jewish social network that strengthened ethnic bonds and predated the Reform congregation. Later, the Jewish Monitor, which began publication about 1914 with Beth-El's Rabbi G. George Fox as editor, also carried far more details about the Reform Congregation than the Orthodox. Stanley F. Chyet's Lives & Voices: A Collection of 19th and 20th Century American Jewish Memoirs with Drawings of the Times (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1972), includes a chapter on a Fort Worth Reform rabbi (see 274-309). For the history of Beth-El, see Hollace Ava Weiner, Beth-El Congregation, Fort Worth, Texas, Centennial, 1902-2002 (Fort Worth: Beth-E1 Congregation, 2002) and Hollace Ava Weiner, "Cowtown's Front-Page Rabbi," in Jewish Stars in Texas: Rabbis and Their Work (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1999), 80-101.

(2.) Leonard Rogoff, Homelands: Southern Jewish Identity in Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2001), 3.

(3.) Lee Shai Weissbach, "East European Immigrants and the Image of Jews in the Small-Town South," American Jewish History 85 (Sep. 1997): 232, 248-250.

(4.) I am grateful to the team that translated and transcribed the minutes of the meetings, which date from Oct. 1898 to Oct. 1905. The work began in 2003 when Hannah Freeman Meyer Howard, a volunteer at the Fort Worth Jewish Archives, housed at Ahavath Sholore, photocopied the minutes. Esther Winesanker, the daughter of a Yiddish printer and a volunteer in the Beth-El Congregation Archives, translated and transcribed them on a manual typewriter. The job took more than six months. Rabbi Sidney Zimelman gave these translations a second reading, adding nuances, deciphering abbreviations, and translating Hebrew passages. Audrey Sloter, a retired legal secretary, typed the translated minutes in a style that approximates the form used in the ledger book. Some time after the minute book was photocopied in 2003, it disappeared. Copies of most of its pages are on file at both local archives and at the American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati.

(5.) Ahavath Sholom minutes, Nov. 8, 1903, 114; Jan. 10, 1904, 118; Feb. 28, 1904, 121, Fort Worth Jewish Archives at Ahavath Sholom.

(6.) Ibid., Jun. 14, 1903, 101; Jul. 26, 1903, 124.

(7.) Ibid., Sep. 24, 1905, 188.

(8.) Ibid., Apr. 5, 1903, 93; May 10, 1903, 96; May 24, 1903, 97. Waco's Agudath Jacob traces its origins to 1886, when fifteen Orthodox Jewish families brought Rabbi Samuel Levy to the city. In 1888 Agudath Jacob received its charter. See "Historic Markers of Genealogical Interest in McLennan County," online at www.rootsweb.com/~txmclenn/historicchurches.htm. Dallas's Shearith Israel was founded in 1884 and chartered in 1886. See Rose Biederman, They Came to Stay: The Story of the Jews of Dallas, 1870-1997 (Austin: Eakin Press, 2002), 125. Abraham Karp cites similar relationships among traditional congregations in "The Americanization of Congregation Beth Israel, Rochester," in Jewish Continuity in America: Creative Survival in a Free Society, ed. Abraham Karp (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1998), 81.

(9.) Ahavath Sholom minutes, Nov. 22, 1903, 115.

(10.) Ibid., Apr. 26, 1903, 94.

(11.) The Ahavath Sholom minutes state on Oct. 12, 1902, 81, that the board voted to publish a notice in the "Yiddish papers" to thank its retiring president and High Holiday prayer leaders; on Oct. 4, 1903, 110, to thank its retiring officers and prayer leaders; on Nov. 8, 1903, 114, to advertise for a rabbi; and on April 3, 1904, 126, to announce the election of Rabbi Halpern to serve the congregation.

(12.) For a rundown of protests staged nationwide, see Cyrus Adler, ed., The Voice of America on Kishineff (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1904), 75, 88-89, 201, 483.

(13.) Steven Windmueller, "'Defenders': National Jewish Community Relations Agencies," in Jewish Polity and American Civil Society: Communal Agencies and Religious Movements in the American Public Square, eds. Alan Mittleman, Jonathan D. Sarna, and Robert Light (Lanham, MD: Rowan and Littlefield Publishers, 2002), 14, 15, 17.

(14.) Nearly every set of minutes begins with such anglicized Yiddish, as do most motions in the 199-page book.

(15.) The wood-burning stove was discussed and purchased in the fall of 1902. The janitor lit it on Saturday mornings before services. Ahavath Sholom minutes, Nov. 9, 1902, 83; Nov. 23, 1902, 84; Jan. 11, 1903, 88.

(16.) The purchase of curtains is mentioned in the Ahavath Sholom minutes of Sep. 11, 1904, 139. Kindling the wood in the stove on Sabbath morning is mentioned Jan. 11, 1903, 88. The janitor, who doubled as shammas and dues collector, is mentioned on Nov. 23, 1902, 84; Feb. 8, 1903, 90; Oct. 25, 1903, 112; May 22, 1904, 130; June 25, 1904, 132; Oct. 9, 194, 142; Jan. 8, 1905, 155; and Aug. 31, 1905, 182. The phrase "cash on hand in the treasury" is written in nearly every set of minutes.

(17.) Ahavath Sholom minutes, Jan. 8, 1899, 8; Aug. 26, 1900, 33; Mar. 10, 1901, 43; Feb. 23, 1902, 65.

(18.) Ahavath Sholom minutes, Jul. 24, 1904, 134.

(19.) The term sukses (success), is employed in the minutes with reference to a Purim party, the Kishinev protest meeting, Simchas Torah, and Hanukkah party on Apr. 5, 1903, 93; Jun. 14, 1903, 100; Oct. 25, 1903, 112; and Dec. 27, 1903, 117, respectively. Other striking examples of anglicized Yiddish words include arenzmands (arrangements) in the minutes dated Sep. 25, 1904, 140; rol of ofisers (roll of officers), and ekspents (expense). The latter two terms are mentioned in almost every set of minutes. A yard is yad and, since the grounds surrounding the shul must be mowed and tended periodically, the yard comes up for discussion in the minutes of Feb. 23, 1902, 65; Jul. 13, 1902, 73; Aug. 24, 1902, 75; Jun. 14, 1903, 101; Aug. 23, 1903, 106; Sep. 13, 1903, 108; and Jun. 25, 1904, 132. The month of June is spelled out in English letters when it heads a set of minutes, but when mentioned within the body, the month of June is spelled dshuen in the minutes of Jul. 13, 1902, 73; May 31, 1903, 99; and May 22, 1904, 130. Sunday school is sohndi skull when mentioned in the minutes of Aug. 12, 1900, 32; Feb. 23, 1902 65; Mar. 9, 1902, 66; Nov. 8, 1903, 114; and Nov. 22, 1903, 115. Hebrew School becomes hibru skuhl when mentioned in the minutes of Apr. 24, 1904, 128, and Jun. 25, 1904, 132.

(20.) Fort Worth Gazette, Feb. 28, 1896, 8. Such Purim balls showed that the immigrants were "yielding to American ways," writes Karp in "The Americanization of Congregation Beth Israel, Rochester," 83-84. See also Rogoff, Homelands, 117-18. In Orangeburg, South Carolina, a 1902 Purim ball invitation features a photo of the previous year's prizewinners, who included the writer Julia Mood Peterkin, a Methodist whose novel Scarlet Sister Mary (1928) won the Pulitzer Prize. The invitation is in the collection of David Ross, Special Collections, College of Charleston Library, Charleston.

(21.) Jeffrey S. Gurock, "A Stage in the Emergence of the Americanized Synagogue," in Gurock, American Jewish Orthodoxy in Historical Perspective (Hoboken, NJ: KTAV, 1996), 267.

(22.) Ibid., 282.

(23.) Lee Shai Weissbach calls the arrival of the East Europeans "vital" and spotlights "their role as founders of new Jewish centers.... Any account of the history of small-town Jewry cannot be complete if it neglects the distinctively East European subculture that materialized in many corners of the South around the turn of the century and that lingered there ... in the decades before World War II." Weissbach, "East European Immigrants and the Image of Jews in the Small-Town South," 231-62.

(24.) Lee Shai Weissbach, Jewish Life in Small-Town America: A History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005), 159-60.

(25.) Weiner, Beth-El Congregation, 1-16.

(26.) Mayer file, families series, Beth-El Congregation Archives, Fort Worth.

(27.) "Public Welfare: A lodge of the Independent order of B'nai B'rith was organized in this city on Sunday Last by Brother Isaac S. Van Ronkel, of Dallas, deputy grand president, assisted by Bros. David Goslin and Dr. Emanuel Tillman, both of Dallas. The name and number of the Lodge is Fort Worth Lodge No. 269. The officers for the first year were installed." Fort Worth Daily Democrat, Nov. 21, 1876.

(28.) Emanuel Hebrew Rest, Historic Marker Application File, Cemetery Box, Beth-El Congregation Archives; Margaret W. Harrison, "The 'Westminster Abbey' of Fort Worth: The Story of Oakwood Cemetery," Oct. 1, 1970, local history pamphlets, Genealogy/Local History and Archives Unit, Fort Worth Public Library.

(29.) Emanuel Hebrew Rest, Historic Marker Application File, Cemetery Box, Beth-El Congregation Archives.

(30.) Caleb Pirtle III, Fort Worth: The Civilized West (Tulsa: Continental Heritage Press), 74.

(31.) Fort Worth's first B'nai B'rith lodge, No. 269, founded in 1876, disintegrated and was apparently forgotten. In 1901, a new B'nai B'rith chapter was organized as Lodge No. 519, according to the Southwestern Jewish Sentiment, Aug. z, 1901, 2.. During research conducted for the Texas Sesquicentennial in 1986, information about the first lodge came to light through an article in the Fort Worth Daily Democrat, Nov. 21, 1876, that announced the original lodge's formation. The existing lodge changed its numerical designation from Lodge No. 519 back to Lodge No. 269. B'nai B'rith file, Sesquicentennial Box, Beth-El Congregation Archives. The cemetery association was "flagging," according to a letter to the editor of the American Israelite, Jul. 13, 1888, 5.

(32.) Galveston Rabbi Abraham Blum organized a Sabbath School in Fort Worth that enrolled 32 students. See American Israelite, March 7, 1879. Rabbi Aron Suhler attempted to organize a "Hebrew congregation school." See Dallas Weekly Herald, Mar. 16, 1882., 1.

(33.) Moses Shanblum, "History of Fort Worth Jewry," Jewish Monitor, Dec. 11, 1925, 3.

(34.) Ibid.

(35.) Ahavath Sholom minutes, Oct. 9, 1892, 1; Seventy-Fifth Anniversary, Congregation Ahavath Sholom, 10.

(36.) Ahavath Sholom minutes, Jan. 11, 1903, 88.

(37.) Seventy-Fifth Anniversary, Congregation Ahavath Sholom, 13.

(38.) The Congregation rented three-dozen chairs in 1900, 1901, and 1902, eight-dozen in 1903, and six-dozen in 1904. Ahavath Sholom minutes, Sep. 16, 1900, 34; Aug. 25, 1901, 50; Sep. 28, 1902, 77; Nov. 9, 1902, 83; Aug. 9, 1903, 105; Aug. 21, 1904, 135. The fee for non-members was $1 per holiday in 1902. In ensuing years, the fee was $2 for single men and $3 for families. Ahavath Sholom minutes, Aug. 24, 1902, 75; Sep. 13, 190 3, 107; and Aug. 21, 1904, 135.

(39.) Ibid., Sep. 28, 1902, 77.

(40.) The minutes discuss installation of six metal fans on Aug. 24, 1902, 75, and again, after the congregation moved, Aug. 31, 1905, 182.

(41.) "There is a record of a few rejections of applications on the basis of moral and ethical issues." See Seventy-Fifth Anniversary, Congregation Ahavath Sholom, 10.

(42.) Karp, Jewish Continuity in America, 45-105.

(43.) Karp, "The Americanization of Congregation Beth Israel, Rochester," 74

(44.) Shanblum, "History of Fort Worth Jewry," 3.

(45.) Ibid.; Seventy-Fifth Anniversary, Congregation Ahavath Sholom, 10-13.

(46.) Ahavath Sholom minutes, Jan. 12, 1896, l09.

(47.) Ibid., Jan. 8, 1899, 8; Mar 12, 1899, 11.

(48.) Fort Worth Gazette, Feb. 28, 1896, 8; Ahavath Sholom minutes, Feb. 11, 1900.

(49.) For the Torah, the board affirmed that it would pay "the rest later when the cong. would collect more money." See Ahavath Sholom minutes, Nov. H, 1900, 38. The motion to purchase chuppah poles was passed on July 22, 1900, 31.

(50.) Ahavath Sholom Minutes, Sept. 30, 1900, 35; Oct. 28, 1900, 37. Karp describes suing a shochet in "The Americanization of Congregation Beth Israel, Rochester," 70-71.

(51.) Congregation Ahavath Sholom, 5741/1980, 10-15, 20, 22.

(52.) Ahavath Sholom Minutes, Mar. 9, 1902, 66.

(53.) Karp, Jewish Continuity in America, 69.

(54.) Rabbi Korn's hiring and his "fair trial" period were discussed in the minutes of Jan. 10, 1904, 118. His termination is mentioned on Feb. 28, 1904, 121. His successor was announced at a special meeting, Mar. 2., 1904, 122.

(55.) Ibid. See also Hollace Ava Weiner, "The Mixers: The Role of Rabbis Deep in the Heart of Texas," in Dixie Diaspora: An Anthology of Southern Jewish History, ed. Mark K. Bauman (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2006), 55-101.

(56.) Weissbach cites Michigan City, Indiana, as another city in which the creation of an Orthodox congregation galvanized unaffiliated Jews with deeper local roots to create a rival Reform congregation. Weissbach, Jewish Life in Small-Town America, 155, 167, 169, 204, 216, 239, 297, 298-99.

(57.) "The Hebrew population of Fort Worth yesterday observed Yom Kippur ... at both of the local Jewish houses of worship," reads one of those columns that describes observances at both Beth-El and Ahavath Sholom. See Fort Worth Record, Oct. 10, 1905, 10.

(58.) Karp notes a similar tendency in Jewish Continuity in America, xi.

(59.) Louis Weltman's name appears on Ahavath Sholom's first roster. Ahavath Sholom minutes, Oct. 8, 1893, 2; Weltman file, families series, Beth-El Congregation Archives.

(60.) Gernsbacher is mentioned in the Ahavath Sholom minutes when he joined the congregation on Aug. 25, 1901,, 50, and when he withdrew on May 11, 1902, 70- Both Weltman and Gernsbacher were listed as founding members of the Reform temple. Beth-El Congregation minutes, Oct. 5, 1902, written on the back of a courthouse circular, Founding documents box, Beth-El Congregation Archives. See also Henry and Julia Gernsbacher file, family series, Beth-El Congregation Archives.

(61.) David Brown was president of the South Fort Worth Ice Factory and Bottling Works, located at 102-112 Louisiana Avenue. His brother-in-law, Ben D. Simon, was plant manager. D. Brown to City Council of Fort Worth, Nov. 16, 1898, City of Fort Worth Council Proceedings, Genealogy and Local History Department, Fort Worth Public Library.

(62.) "Goldsmith Family Tree," personal papers of Henry W. Simon Jr., Fort Worth. According to family lore, the entire village, perhaps as many as seventy people, fled together to the United States. Interview with Henry W. Simon Jr., conducted by Hollace Ava Weiner, May 30, 2001. The family's 1873 immigration date is in the Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900, Smith County, Texas, enumeration district 97, sheet 463.

(63.) Florence W. Sillers, "Overflows of the Mississippi River," in History of Bolivar County, Mississippi, ed. Wirt A. Williams (Spartanburg, MS: Reprint Co., 1976), 184-85.

(64.) Rabbi Harvey E. Wessel, "A History of the Jews of Tyler and Smith County, Texas," in Tyler and Smith County, Texas: An Historical Survey, ed. Robert Glover and Linda Brown Cross (Tyler, TX, 1976), 203, 254.

(65.) Uriah Simon died May 26, 1892, and is buried in Tyler's Oakwood Cemetery. Gertrude M. and Donald L. Teter, Texas Jewish Burials: Alphabetically by Name (Baytown, TX: Texas Jewish Historical Society, 1997), 373. David Brown, the German immigrant who later married Sarah Simon, lived with the Simons in Mississippi and worked in the family grocery store. See Tenth Census of the United States, 1880, Bolivar County, Mississippi, enumeration district 142, sheet 46. See also Who's Who in American Jewry: A Biographical Directory of Living Jews of the U.S. and Canada (New York: Jewish Biographical Bureau, 1927-28), s.v. "Simon, Uriah Myer."

(66.) Ahavath Sholom minutes, Jan. 22, 1899, 9.

(67.) "The Gemilus Chasodim," in Flora [Weltman] Schiff, "History of the Jews of Fort Worth," Reform Advocate, Jan. 24, 1914, 9.

(68.) Ahavath Sholom minutes, Feb. 26, 1899, 10; Apr. 9, 1899, 12; Sep. 10, 1899, 17.

(69.) The publisher of the Jewish Monitor wrote of David Brown, "He was always respected for the integrity of the stand he took on all questions" and that he was "a man of very strong convictions." See Jewish Monitor, Dec. 17, 1926, 6, 7.

(70.) Rogoff, Homelands, 107-12.

(71.) Ibid., 119.

(72.) For a detailed history of the congregation, see Weiner, Beth-El Congregation. For elaboration on the interrelationships among the Jews in Fort Worth see Hollace Ava Weiner, "Tied and Tethered ('Geknippt und Gebinden'): Jews in Early Fort Worth," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 107 (Jan. 2004): 389-414.

(73.) Fort Worth Gazette, Feb. 28, 1896, 8.

(74.) The charter officers of B'nai B'rith Lodge included a mix of shul and temple names. See Southwestern Jewish Sentiment, Aug. 2, 1901, 2.

(75.) Ahavath Sholom minutes, Oct. 27, 1901, 54

(76.) Teter, Texas Jewish Burials, 152.

(77.) Ahavath Sholom minutes, Feb. 8, 1903, 90. Ahavath Sholom's cemetery, located at 415 University Drive, was enlarged in 1929. It has 1,400 gravesites, and 1,100 remained in 1992 when the congregation filed paperwork for a state historic marker. See "Ahavath Sholom Hebrew Cemetery," typescript, 1992, Ahavath Sholom Cemetery file, cemeteries box, Beth-El Congregation Archives. Yiddish minutes from the chevrah kadisha have not been transcribed and are on file at the Fort Worth Jewish Archives at Ahavath Sholom.

(78.) Fort Worth Telegram, Apr. 23, 1903, 1; May 10, 1903, 1; Jun. 7, 1903, 1.

(79.) Among other cities staging protest rallies was Denver, where Colorado's two senators spoke during a mass meeting at Temple Emanuel on May 24, 1903. In Des Moines, Iowa's governor and chief justice spoke during a rally at the Mirror Theatre. See Adler, The Voice of America on Kishineff, 75, 76, 78, 88-89, 201, 483.

(80.) Dallas Morning News, May 14, 1903, 2; May 28, 1903, 12.

(81.) Rabbi Joseph Bogen (1842.-1918) was born in Breslau and graduated from the Berlin Rabbinical Seminary. He was rabbi at Greenville, Mississippi's Hebrew Union Congregation (1880-1901), at Texarkana's Mount Sinai Congregation (1900-1906) and died while rabbi in Jackson, Tennessee. See H. W. Solomon, "The Early History of the Hebrew Union Congregation of Greeneville, Mississippi," typescript, 1972, 35-37, nearprint file, American Jewish Archives; "Mount Sinai Congregation [of Texarkana, Texas], Fiftieth Anniversary," soft cover tribute volume, nearprint file, American Jewish Archives. For background on Jeannette Miriam Goldberg, see Hollace Ava Weiner, "'These One-Sex Organizations': Clubwomen Create Communal Institutions," in Lone Stars of David: The Jews of Texas, ed. Hollace Ava Weiner and Kenneth D. Roseman (Lebanon, NH: University Press of New England, 2007), 66-68.

(82.) Fort Worth Telegram, Jun. 5, 1903, 2.

(83.) Windmueller, "'Defenders': National Jewish Community Relations Agencies," 14, 15, 17. According to Leonard Rogoff, "politics served as an index of the Jews' civic integration." See Homelands, 97.

(84.) Stuart Rockoff, "Deep in the Heart of Palestine: Zionism in Early Texas," in Weiner and Roseman, Lone Stars of David, 94-95; "Organizations," Fort Worth City Directory 1902-1903 (Galveston: Morrison and Flourmy Directory Co., 1902).

(85.) Rockoff, "Deep in the Heart of Palestine," 95.

(86.) "Organizations," Fort Worth City Directory 1907, (Fort Worth: Fort Worth Directory Co., 1907).

(87.) There is further evidence in the minutes of the bond with the world Zionist movement. At a board meeting following the Jul. 3, 1904, death of Theodor Herzl (1860-1904), the father of political Zionism, "it was moved in his honor the meeting should close." See Ahavath Sholom minutes, Jul. 10, 1904, 133.

(88.) Rogoff, Homelands, 117; Rockoff, "Deep in the Heart of Palestine," 93-107.

(89.) Jewish Monitor, Nov. 26 and Dec. 10, 1920.

(90.) Ahavath Sholom minutes, Sep. 10, 1905, 185.

(91.) Congregation Ahavath Sholom: 5741-190 14; Interview with R. D. Moses, Jan. 29, 2007, notes in possession of author.

(92.) See Hollace Ava Weiner, "Removal Approval: The Industrial Removal Office Experience in Fort Worth, Texas," Southern Jewish History 4 (200-): 1-44.

(93.) Mrs. L. F. (Sarah Levy) Shanblum, "Ladies Hebrew Relief Society," in Jewish Monitor, Sep. 10, 1915, 10.

(94.) Ibid. See also "Ladies Hebrew Relief Society," in Schiff, "The History of the Jews of Fort Worth," Reform Advocate, Jan. 24, 1914, 12.

(95.) Southwestern Jewish Sentiment, Oct. 18, 1901, 4; Hollace Ava Weiner, "The Jewish Junior League: The Rise and Demise of the Fort Worth Council of Jewish Women, 1901-2002" (M.A. thesis, University of Texas at Arlington, 2004), 27, 60.

(96.) Ahavath Sholom minutes, May 24, 1903, 97; Nov. 12, 1904, 147.

(97.) Bauman notes that when the Jews of New York built the first synagogue in America, women contributed to the building fund and the torah fund. In Natchez, Mississippi, in 1869, Jewish women raised $3,675 at a fair and informed the "gentlemen" in the Jewish community that the money was available for constructing a synagogue. See Mark K. Bauman, "Southern Jewish Women and Their Social Service Organizations," Journal of American Ethnic History 22 (Spring 2003): 32-78. Five women in Anniston, Alabama, raised the money for a temple, developed the plans, and then appointed their husbands as the building committee. See Sherry Blanton, "Lives of Quiet Affirmation: The Jewish Women of Early Anniston," Southern Jewish History 2 (1999): 25-54. See also Wendy Lowe Besmann, A Separate Circle: Jewish Life in Knoxville, Tennessee (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2001), 47; Deborah Weiner, "Jewish Women in the Central Appalachian Coal Fields, 1880-1960," in Bauman, Dixie Diaspora, 143-64.

(98.) Schmier, Reflections of Southern Jewry, 45n24-25.

(99.) Rogoff, Homelands, 106.

(100.) The mikvah is mentioned in the Ahavath Sholom minutes on Oct. 12, 1902, 80, and Apr. 15, 1903, 93. The first time, a committee proposed that the mikvah be constructed on the east side of the building; the second time, the plans moved it to the northeast corner.

(101.) Shmuel Geller, Mazkeres Ahavah: Remembrance of Love (Zichron Yaakov, Israel: Institute for Publication of Books and Study of Manuscripts, 1988), 36-37.

(102.) Ahavath Sholom minutes, Nov. 12, 1904, 147.

(103.) Mark K. Bauman, The Southerner as American: Jewish Style (Cincinnati: American Jewish Archives, 1996).

(104.) For a discussion of separate seating, both architecturally and historically, see Karla Goldman, Beyond the Synagogue Gallery: Finding a Place for Women in American Judaism (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000), 40-59, 93-99.

(105.) Congregation Ahavath Sholom, 5741/1980, 93. The congregation hired a Conservative rabbi in May 1991 and he informed the membership he could only remain if they affiliated with the United Synagogues of America. Eighteen months later, Ahavath Sholom "took an historic vote to extend to all members of the shul ... egalitarian rights in religious services." See Congregation Ahavath Sholom 100th Anniversary, 1892-1992, 27; conversations with Rabbi Sidney Zimelman, July 2006, and congregation past-president Bernard Appel, April 6, 2007, notes in possession of the author.

(106.) "Congregation Agudath Jacob, Waco, Texas," online at www.agudath-waco.org.

(107.) The influence of a lack of air conditioning on the development of Conservative Judaism throughout the South is not to be underestimated. Jeffrey S. Gurock describes a comparable case of women in Charleston, South Carolina, "roasting" in the balcony at Brith Sholom in 1945. See Gurock, Orthodoxy in Charleston: Brith Sholom Beth Israel and American Jewish History (Charleston: College of Charleston Library, 2004), 33-34.

(108.) Hollace Weiner and Lauraine Miller, "Little Synagogues Across Texas," in Weiner and Roseman, Lone Stars of David, 193-94.

(109.) Ibid., 191-92.