The Chosen Folks: Jews on the Frontiers of Texas

By Bryan Edward Stone | Go to book overview

Conclusion

The main purpose of this book is to go beyond the biographical and photographic interest of earlier studies of Texas Jewry to a more general interpretive level. Texas-Jewish history is well documented but, until now, largely unexplained, leaving a reader with the impression that what the Jewish people have done in Texas is without meaning or is meaningful only to genealogists, antiquarians, and Texas Jews themselves. On the contrary, the Jewish experience in Texas embodies a number of crucial themes in Jewish and American history that should be explicitly noted, and I hope that this work makes a contribution to these larger fields by using Texas-Jewish history to illuminate new ways of thinking about some very old issues.

Because Jews are so community- and family-oriented, all Jewish history is local history. Jewish life always occurs here, in some specific place, and it always takes on shades and colorings unique to its particular setting. Thus, American Jewish historians have tended to emphasize regionalism, how Jews in the South, or the West, or in New York, differ from one another. This book, too, reads the Jewish life of one such place. However, in the light of a powerful interpretive framework, the frontier, which is applicable in so many contexts, it is possible to see how much Jewish life in Texas shares with other American Jewish experiences. In fact, the frontier is a common, unifying force behind Jewish history everywhere. The first European Jews to settle in Palestine, with the eventual hope of establishing a

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