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HOUSTON:

Capital of Harris county, Texas; situated on the banks of Buffalo Bayou. It had a population in 1897 of 45,000, of whom about 1,200 were Jews. It has the oldest Jewish congregation in the state, the Congregation Beth Israel having been organized in 1854, while the cemetery is ten years older. Attracted doubtless by its commercial possibilities, Jews were among its earliest settlers. Eugene Joseph Chimene went there from New York as early as 1835, just before the city was chosen as the capital of the state. He fought at San Jacinto, while Henry Wiener, another early settler, fought at Buena Vista. In 1847 Jacob de Cordova represented Harris county in the state house of representatives. The first settlers were mostly of German or Alsatian origin, but during the last years of the nineteenth century many Russian and Polish emigrants settled in Houston. In 1887 these seceded from the Beth Israel (Reform) congregation and founded the Orthodox congregation Adath Yeshurun. The existing synagogue of the Reform congregation was dedicated in 1870, and by 1903 had become inadequate to accommodate its membership.

There are three Jewish benevolent societies—the Ladies' Hebrew Benevolent Society, founded in 1875; the Bikor Cholim Society, organized by the Orthodox Jews in 1895; and the Beth Israel Benevolent Society, organized in 1903. There are also a Ladies' Relief Society and two B'nai B'rith lodges (Lone Star Lodge No. 210, and Houston Lodge No. 434), while the order B'rith Abraham is represented by Anshel Hirsch Lodge No. 200. The social and literary life of the community is represented by the Concordia Club, the Young Men's Hebrew Society, and the Beth Israel Literary Society. The following rabbis of Houston may be mentioned Samuel Raphael, Z. Emmich, E. Steiner, Kaiser, Meyer, Jacob Voorsanger, W. Wilner, Max Heller, S. Rosenstein, G. Löwenstein, A. Lazarus, and H. Barnstein (the present [1903] incumbent).

Bibliography:
  • H. Cohen, The Jews of Texas.
A. H. Bar.
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