Jewish Cemeteries in Texas

Jewish Cemeteries in Texas

ALAN NAFZGER’s Jewish Cemeteries in Texas

Jewish Cemeteries in Texas – Pecan Street Press

Lubbock ● Austin ● Fort Worth

Jewish Cemeteries in Texas

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Jewish Cemeteries in Texas is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

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Jewish Cemeteries in Texas

Copyright © 2016 Alan Nafzger

All rights reserved.

ISBN: 9781071443354

 


Jewish Cemeteries in Texas

Written by Alan Nafzger

Copyright, 2016

Jewish Cemeteries in Texas
Jewish Cemeteries in Texas

Jewish Cemeteries in Texas – FADE IN:

 

Jewish Cemeteries in Texas

EXT. fraternity house – AUSTIN TEXAS – DAY

Jewish Cemeteries in Texas

FRANK BEER (23) is just moving out of his fraternity house. It isn’t one of the University of Texas mansions, but one of the run down houses for middle class men.

Jewish Cemeteries in Texas

Several FRATERNITY MEMBERS are cleaning and decorating for a party that we can assume will be later that night. In the front yard they are putting up plastic palm trees and palapa umbrellas. They have a portable tropical Tiki bar that they have managed to assembled under a thatch hut. There are several signs out in the yard with a word and an arrow, “bar” and “pool” and a “beach” sign. Only blocks from the University, there isn’t a pool and there isn’t a beach.

Jewish Cemeteries in Texas

Several fraternity members help Frank load his things. They seem to load a few things and then drink a beer. They load a few more things and then they drink another beer.

Jewish Cemeteries in Texas

FRATERNITY BROTHER

I don’t know what we will do without “Beer”.

Jewish Cemeteries in Texas

Frank chuckles a bit. Several fraternity members don’t understand the context and look worried when they hear they might not have beer. They turn and see that Frank Beer is leaving.

 

FRANK BEER

I’m sure you will be just fine without me.

 

FRATERNITY BROTHER

Where are you going anyway?

 

FRANK BEER

Family farm back in Beyer County. Beyerville.

 

FRATERNITY BROTHER

I thought you were going out to California.

 

FRANK BEER

I do have a job in San Francisco but it doesn’t start until January.

 

FRATERNITY BROTHER

What are you going to do?

 

FRANK BEER

I’m gonna help my dad farm and then I’m off.

 

FRATERNITY BROTHER

Must be nice a few months off to find yourself.

 

FRANK BEER

No one ever “found themselves” in Beyerville Texas unless they are broke down; I promise you.

 

Frank has put all of his things in the back of his ’82 pick up truck. A futon, some rolled up posters, a guitar, an empty bottle of champagne, a computer, a stack of Civil Engineering magazine, his graduation cap and gown. Mostly there are clothes.

Jewish Cemeteries in Texas
Jewish Cemeteries in Texas

Frank calls his DOG (German Shepard) and the dog loads up into the passenger seat.

 

Several the fraternity members stop decorating and line up to shake his hand and wish him “good luck”.

 

FRATERNITY BROTHER #2

Are you sure you don’t want to stay for the party and leave tomorrow?

 

FRANK BEER

No, I better get going. Yawl, don’t need me anymore.

 

EXT. UNIVERSITY – AUSTIN TEXAS – DAY

Frank, before leaving town, drives through the campus. He stops outside a sorority house, maybe he is thinking of saying “goodbye” to someone. There are some girls returning to the house from their exercise.

GIRL

You are Maria’s friend?

Frank is startled. He was watching the girl who had been jogging. A different GIRL with books surprises him.

FRANK

That’s me. Yea.

GIRL

Maria is inside you want me to go get her?

FRANK

No, I’ve got to get out of here.

GIRL

You graduated?

FRANK

Yes, I did.

 

Frank looks at his watch. When it looks like the OTHER GIRLS might still approach him, he pulls away. Obviously someone jilted someone. Frank looks lovelorn.

 

GIRL

Bye.

 

OPENING TITLES BEGIN:

 

Frank drives past the Littlefield Fountain; again he stops his truck and sits a short time. He reads, “BREVIS A NATURA NOBIS VITA DATA EST AT MEMORIA BENE REDDITAE VITAE SEMPITERNA.” Translation – “A short life hath been given by Nature unto man; but the remembrance of a life laid down in a good cause endureth forever.”

 

INT. science fair – AUSTIN TEXAS – DAY

 

At the state science fair, we see JO (16) with a complicated machine. People fill by and we can see she is telling them about it. She has a great smile and tons of enthusiasm. In the background, we can see her parents and a person we might assume is a teacher.

 

EXT. UNIVERSITY – AUSTIN TEXAS – DAY

 

Frank drives and stops again at the LBJ Presidential Library, the University of Texas Tower, the football stadium and the baseball stadium. He stops outside the student center and also the world’s largest dormitory building.

Jewish Cemeteries in Texas

INT. science fair AWARDS – AUSTIN TEXAS – DAY

Jewish Cemeteries in Texas

Theater. At the science fair, Jo’s name is called and she walks to the stage and collects her trophy and there appears to be an invitation to the next level. We see a logo that suggests that she is going to the Nation Science Fair.

 

EXT. Scholz’s Beer Garten – AUSTIN TEXAS – DAY

 

Frank stops at a drinking establishment. He puts the truck in park and goes inside. He walks past a sign that says, “Scholz Garten Since 1866”.

 

Frank drinks one last “college” beer with his buddies.

 

Frank turns down Sixth Street in the middle of the day.

 

OPENING TITLES END:

 

Frank finds Hwy 290 West and begins driving home.

 

EXT. BEYERVILLE – TEXAS – AFTERNOON

 

Beyerville is a small Texas town, with a very German-American populace. Frank drives past a large billboard at the edge of town, “Welcome to Beyerville, the Most German Town in Texas.”

 

On the sign are several cultural icons from Germany – beer mugs, wheat shafts, a smiling woman with large breasts, a Doberman Pinscher, an accordion, a man in a Bavarian Alpine hat.  Also on the sign are large Catholic and Lutheran churches. The sign totally summarizes the city.

 

Frank drives past the school and the Court House and by the shops downtown.

 

Frank stops at the town’s drive-in where the kids have gathered after school. He orders a large soda. The dog beside Frank is asleep but awakes. The dog seems to notice something wrong and gets up to look around. Four Mexican men have untied the tarp and are liberating Frank’s nice racing bicycle.

 

It is Frank’s bike that is stolen from the back of the truck, not his camera or his computer or his clothes.

 

Frank’S dog is barking like crazy but the window is only cracked and the dog can’t bite the thieves. The dog is biting what he can of the window.

 

Frank gets out of his truck, just in time to see a Mexican national bicycling away. The other Mexicans scatter like quail. Frank could run him down and he climbs into his truck; he considers chasing the thief in his truck.

 

Frank’s truck is blocked in by cars in the drive-thru lane. It is after school and “happy hours” for sodas.

 

Frank takes a step to release the dog but hesitates.

 

FRANK

Can I get out?

 

The young man in the pickup truck behind him does put it in reverse but the car behind him will not back up. Nor will the car behind this truck back up. Frank seems stuck.

 

The town’s entire teen age population seems to be watching. No one moves to help or says a word. It is as if Frank is a stranger passing through town.

 

This is unsettling for Frank, who was raised in the town and has been gone for only 5 years.

 

Frank sits in the truck, drinks his soda and waits for the drive-thru crowd to die down. He backs out of his space and gets back on the road.

 

The town’s first policewoman, Mili Dornberg (23), pulls behind Frank and turns on her lights. The one corner of the blue tarp, that was placed over the bed of his truck is flopping about. She approaches the vehicle and smiles. Mili is attractive and single. She may have pulled him over just to have a closer look at him.

 

MILI

I just want to let you know your tarp has come loose in that back corner.

 

Mili gestures to the back passenger side.

 

FRANK

Oh, thanks. Some Mexican at the drive-in stole my bike.

 

MILI

Really, just then. Why didn’t you call us. 911 you know.

 

FRANK

That is too much of a hassle. I just want to get home. I’ve been driving all day. You know what I mean?

 

Frank gets out to walk back there and tie it down, but Mili is already there and has secured it.

 

FRANK

Thanks.

 

MILI

Not a problem, you are good to go. But come by the station and fill out of complaint and I will do what I can to get your bike back.

 

FRANK

I’m just going up the road a bit.

 

MILI

You moving out this way.

 

FRANK

My folks have a farm.

 

MILI

You’re home from school?

 

FRANK

I am so glad to be done with school.

 

MILI

Feels good huh?

 

FRANK

Sure does.

 

MILI

Maybe I will see you around.

 

Mili walks backward to her patrol car. They obviously are interested in one another.

 

FRANK

Sure. Thanks again.

 

EXT. FARM HOUSE – WEST OF BEYERVILLE – LATE AFTERNOON

 

Frank arrives at the farmhouse.  It is like any other Texas farmhouse. One unique identifying aspect is that it has an antique plow in the center of a circular drive.

 

Frank goes inside and learns no one is home. He returns to the truck. Frank lets the dog out of the truck he and brings his clothes into the house. He places the clothes in his bedroom.

 

Frank drives the truck to the tractor barn and finds a place for his other things and covers them with a tarp.

 

Frank discovers some schematics and drawings of a strange looking machine and is clearly puzzled. It is his sister’s science project but he doesn’t know that at the time.

 

Jo’s science project and machine is for the most part a rear tine roto-tiller but it has tons of electronic equipment on it. The rotors have been replaced with something similar to 18-inch satellite dishes attached and pointing down. There is a laptop atop it.

 

Frank takes some of his things into the farmhouse and then drives around the farm looking for the FAMILY.

 

His father’s name is NickolaUs (65). His mother’s name is RUTH (55). His sister is Jo. They aren’t around.

 

We see a large wheat farming operation. There is a modest farmhouse but very large barns, grain silos and modern expensive farm equipment. We see expensive tractors, planters and harvesters.

 

Frank doesn’t find anyone, but we do learn it is a large farm. There are four or five locations were there used to be houses. Basically, there are brick fireplaces that remain. The houses are gone. The land around the home sites has been turned into wheat. Franks father or grandfather purchases neighboring farms.

 

At the edge of the farm there is a grove of trees. Frank sees someone in the tree line. He drives near the trees and stops the truck he pears into the trees. He hears a sound and he gets out and follows it.  Frank feels that he is definitely following someone. Frank reaches a clearing and stops. We see a fireplace were a building once stood.

 

Near dark, Frank returns to the farmhouse. He watches television and finally falls asleep on the couch.

 


 

Jewish Cemeteries of Texas

Jewish Texans have been a part of the history of Texas since the first europe/" 775 target="_blank">European explorers arrived in the region in the 16th century.[1] In 1990, there were around 108,000 adherents to Judaism in Texas.[1] More recent estimates place the number at around 120,000.[1]

History of Jewish Texans

1870 Congregation B’nai Israel Temple & Henry Cohen Community House in Galveston, Texas

Spanish Texas did not welcome easily identifiable Jews, but they came in any case. Jao de la Porta was with Jean Laffite at Galveston, Texas in 1816, and Maurice Henry was in Velasco in the late 1820s. Jews fought in the armies of the Texas Revolution of 1836, some with James Fannin at Goliad, others at the Battle of San Jacinto. Dr. Albert Levy became a surgeon to revolutionary Texan forces in 1835, participated in the capture of Bexar, and joined the Texas Navy the next year.[2] The first families were conversos and Sephardic Jews. Later settlers such as the Simon family, led by Alex Simon, came in the 1860s and contributed to the construction of synagogues and monuments such as the Simon Theatre. B. Levinson, a Jewish Texan civic leader, arrived in 1861.[3] Today the vast majority of Jewish Texans are descendants of Ashkenazi Jews, those from central and eastern Europe whose families arrived in Texas after the Civil War or later.[1]

Organized Judaism in Texas began in Galveston with the establishment of Texas’ first Jewish cemetery in 1852. By 1856 the first organized Jewish services were being held in the home of Galveston resident Isadore Dyer. These services would eventually lead to the founding of Texas’ first and oldest Reform Jewish congregation, Temple B’nai Israel, in 1868.[4]

The first synagogue in Texas, Congregation Beth Israel of Houston, was founded in Houston in 1859 as an Orthodox congregation. However, by 1874 the congregation voted to change their affiliation to the fledgling Reform movement. The ensuing years were accompanied by the spread of Judaism throughout Texas. Temple Beth-El (San Antonio, Texas) was founded in San Antonio in 1874, followed by Temple Emanu-El of Dallas in 1875 and Brenham’s B’nai Abraham in 1885. Temple Beth-El is known as one of the state’s more contemporary Reform Jewish congregations due to their very open support of the Jewish LGBT community while B’nai Abraham, currently led by Rabbi Leon Toubin, is the state’s oldest existing Orthodox synagogue.[3][5]

Between 1907 and 1914, a resettlement program, known as the Galveston Movement, was in operation to divert Jewish immigrants from eastern Europe away from the crowded-immigrant cities in the Northeast. Ten thousand Jewish immigrants passed through the port city of Galveston during this era, approximately one-third the number who migrated to the area of the Ottoman Empire that would become the state of Israel during the same period. Henry Cohen, the rabbi of B’nai Israel at the time, is credited with helping to found the Movement.[6]

Texas, however, suffered from antisemitism nearly as soon as it became a state in the 19th century. Judge Roy Bean’s first act as Justice of the Peace was to “shoot […] up the saloon shack of a Jewish competitor”.[7] Judge Roy Bean then turned the tent saloon into a part-time courtroom, pronounced his own innocence, and began calling himself the, “Law West of Pacos”. During the 1920s the Ku Klux Klan became influential in Texas. Billie Mayfield edited a weekly Klan newspaper in Houston that regularly used anti-Semitic stereotypes to attack Jews as parasites only interested in extracting wealth from the community. he wrote in an article “there are lots of good Jews in Houston and all over Texas; you find them with tombstones over their heads.” However most of the times the violence was against the African-Americans and not the Jews. KKK threat also helped unify the Houston Jewish community. By 1924, the Klan had lost much of its local support and influence and Mayfield’s newspaper went out of business.[8] Even at the time of KKK many Houston Jews were powerful in its economy. By the 1920s, big department stores in Houston, such as Foley’s and Battlestein’s, were owned by Jews. Brothers Simon and Tobias Sakowitz left Russia as young children. In 1915, they opened a clothing store in Houston that eventually became Sakowitz’s, one of the finest department stores in the city. In 1959, they built a new flagship store on Westheimer Road; ten years later the large Galleria mall was built across the street from it. Sakowitz’s expanded too much in the 1970s and declared bankruptcy during the economic downtown of the ’80s, selling most of the business to an australia/" 774 target="_blank">Australian company. The Sakowitz stores closed for good in 1990.

The Handbook of Texas states that “The formal preservation of the history of Texas Jewry goes back to Rabbi Henry Cohen of Galveston and Rabbi David Lefkowitz of Dallas, who set out to interview as many early settlers and their families as possible. They produced a historical account for the Texas Centennial in 1936.”

Among the leading philanthropists in Texas were several Jews such as Ben Taub. Taub who was born and raised in Houston, became a leading real estate developer. He donated the land for the University of Houston when it was founded in 1936. He also helped Baylor College of Medicine to move to Houston from Dallas in 1943. Taub founded a new public charity hospital which is known as Ben Taub hospital today. The Jewish community in 1958, decided to build a $450,000 Jewish Institute for Medical Research, which they donated to the Baylor College of Medicine when it was completed in 1964. Leopold Meyer was a major donor and fundraiser for the Texas Children’s Hospital. He was also the longtime director of two of Houston’s most iconic annual events: the Livestock Show and Rodeo, and the Pin Oak Horse Show.

Many Jewish immigrants thrived in Houston such as Joe Weingarten. Weingarten who was born in Poland became a very successful grocery store owner. He pioneered the innovations of cash and carry and self-service grocery stores in Houston, building a local chain that reached 70 locations by the time of his death in 1967. He was very active in Jewish social causes as well.

Joe Straus, (born September 1, 1959), is a former Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives. Straus was elected Speaker on January 13, 2009 and is the first Jewish Speaker in Texas history.

More recently, prominent Jewish Texans include the late retailer Stanley Marcus, longtime CEO of Neiman-Marcus based in Dallas, and Michael Dell, founder and CEO of Dell Computer. Dell is also active in charity and civic affairs, including helping to fund the Dell Children’s Hospital in Austin and the Dell Diamond supporting the Round Rock Express AAA professional baseball team owned by Nolan Ryan and run by the Ryan family.