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The Chosen Folks

Jews on the Frontiers of Texas

By Bryan Edward Stone

Publication Year: 2010

Texas has one of the largest Jewish populations in the South and West, comprising an often-overlooked vestige of the Diaspora. The Chosen Folks brings this rich aspect of the past to light, going beyond single biographies and photographic histories to explore the full evolution of the Jewish experience in Texas. Drawing on previously unpublished archival materials and synthesizing earlier research, Bryan Edward Stone begins with the crypto-Jews who fled the Spanish Inquisition in the late sixteenth century and then discusses the unique Texas-Jewish communities that flourished far from the acknowledged centers of Jewish history and culture. The effects of this peripheral identity are explored in depth, from the days when geographic distance created physical divides to the redefinitions of “frontier” that marked the twentieth century. The rise of the Ku Klux Klan, the creation of Israel in the wake of the Holocaust, and the civil rights movement are covered as well, raising provocative questions about the attributes that enabled Texas Jews to forge a distinctive identity on the national and world stage. Brimming with memorable narratives, The Chosen Folks brings to life a cast of vibrant pioneers. Jewish History, Life, and Culture Michael Neiditch, Series Editor

Published by: University of Texas Press

Series: Jewish Life, History, and Culture

TItle page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii

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Prologue: Rope Walker, A True Story; Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xv

On a warm, still afternoon in 1884, the citizens of Corsicana, Texas, gathered in the center of town for Trades Day.1 Merchants from Navarro and nearby counties set up displays of their goods along Beaton Street, and a crowd came out to take advantage of the bargains and to enjoy the food -- baked, fried, and barbecued ...

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pp. 1-21

Kinky Friedman, the country singer, crime novelist, and former Texas gubernatorial candidate, once described himself as "the bastard child of twin cultures." "Both cowboys and Jewboys," he explained, "wear their hats in the house."1 This is a typical Friedman throwaway line: clever, a bit crass, played strictly ...

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Chapter One. Los Judíos en la Fronte

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pp. 22-39

By some accounts, the history of Judaism in the United States began in Texas. In 1579, nearly seventy-five years before the first Jews arrived in New York, the Spanish crown granted an enormous land charter in New Spain, including much of what is now northern Mexico and South Texas, to a Christian descendant of ...

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Chapter Two. A "Wild Indian Region": At Home on the Frontier

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pp. 40-68

Isaac Leeser, the Philadelphia editor and one of the most vocal and infl uential rabbis of the antebellum era, saw world Jewry's future on the expanding American frontier, "where the climate is mild, and the soil new and fruitful, capable of making ample returns for the labours of the husbandman."1 He was pleased ...

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Chapter Three. The Possum and the Zionist

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pp. 69-97

In the winter of 1904, Jacob de Haas, the British-born secretary of the Federation of American Zionists, set out on a two-month tour of the American South to promote Zionist organization in the region. Editor of the Federation's New York journal, The Maccabaean, and formerly the personal secretary to ...

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Chapter Four. Texas News for Texas Jews

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pp. 98-120

In March 1910 a sixty-eight-year-old African American named Allen Brooks was standing trial in the Dallas County Courthouse when about two hundred whites stormed the court, overwhelming the seventy armed policemen and sheriff 's deputies who tried to stop them. They seized the defendant, tied a rope ...

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Chapter Five. Texas Jews and the Ku Klux Klan

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pp. 121-146

J. D. Van Winkle, Grand Cyclops of the Dallas klavern, was having a wonderful day. Standing at a podium on the State Fairgrounds, he addressed a crowd of fifteen hundred fellow Klansmen, many of whom had come from all over Texas and Oklahoma in chartered trains and automobile caravans to be part ...

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Chapter Six. Traditional Judaism and the Beth Israel Revolt

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pp. 147-169

"The miraculous story of a people's struggle against tyranny, a story that was thousands of years in the writing, is told in one inspired phrase -- from Egypt to Texas." Thus the authors of the Golden Book of Congregation Adath Yeshurun, in celebration of their Houston synagogue's fiftieth anniversary in 1941, ...

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Chapter Seven. Texas Jews Respond to the World Crises of the 1940s

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pp. 170-192

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, ...

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Chapter Eight. "Are You Going to Serve Us?";Texas Jews and the Black Civil Rights Movement

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pp. 193-214

The first sit-in to challenge racial segregation in Texas public accommodations occurred at a Jewish-owned store in Houston's predominantly black Third Ward. Following the example of nonviolent protesters in North Carolina and Georgia, about thirty-five African-American students from Texas Southern University ...

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Chapter Nine. Interior Frontiers

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pp. 215-234

Led by its dynamic high-tech industry, particularly by the legendary success of Dell Computer, the city of Austin grew tremendously in the 1990s -- about 41 percent according to the U.S. Census.1 "Thirty-five thousand people, the equivalent of a fair-sized town, moved here last year alone," a New York Times reporter ...

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pp. 235-238

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 ...


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pp. 239-266


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pp. 267-278


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pp. 279-294

E-ISBN-13: 9780292792791
E-ISBN-10: 0292792794
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292721777
Print-ISBN-10: 0292721773

Page Count: 312
Illustrations: 38 b&w photos
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: Jewish Life, History, and Culture