The Chosen Folks: Jews on the Frontiers of Texas

By Bryan Edward Stone | Go to book overview

SEVEN
Texas Jews Respond to
the World Crises of the 1940s

The Beth Israel Revolt was a moment of intense reaction in which Texas Jews resisted the changing tides of Jewish life in the middle twentieth century, but it brought home to Jewish Texans the deep and significant changes affecting Jewish identity around the world. Despite its self-consciousness as a frontier community, Texas Jewry was, and really had always been, part of a Jewish community of global scope, and international events had an impact in every corner of the Jewish world, including Texas. This was especially true in the 1940s, when the Holocaust, World War II, and the establishment of Israel shaped Jewish communities everywhere in profound and permanent ways. The influx of more traditionally religious Jews had already changed local communities in Texas, and now world events of incalculable importance encouraged Jewish Texans to cultivate stronger institutional and spiritual connections with Jews from other places. Native Texas Jews could no longer avoid a Jewish universalism that pressed upon them a solidarity with Jews around the world. Concerted action in the face of world events drew pluralistic communities together as well, locating and strengthening a common core of Jewish identity that mitigated differences of denomination, language, national origin, economic class, and length of time in the community. Judge Irving Goldberg of Dallas, for example, observed “an affirmative alliance between all Jews” in his city, an “admixture of the old and new, harmoniously harnessed, [which] did an effective job in the crises of our times.”1

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