History of the Jews in Dallas

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Dallas is one of the largest cities in Texas and has one of the largest Jewish communities in the state.[1]

Early history[edit]

German Jews arrived in Dallas as part of the mid-nineteenth century immigration to Texas from the German principalities following their revolutions. They established the city's first Jewish cemetery in 1854.[2] The small but growing Jewish community wanted a permanent religious structure as well as a rabbi to conduct services and to offer religious education for children. In 1872, the "Hebrew Benevolent Association" was formed, a charity relief organization that also sponsored the city's first High Holiday services.[3] In 1873, several families founded the first congregation in the Dallas area, Jewish Congregation Emanu-El (now Temple Emanu-El), a Reform congregation.[4] The Temple was chartered in 1875. The next year they built a small red brick temple in the Byzantine style at Commerce and Church (now Field) streets in downtown Dallas. The congregation engaged its first rabbi, Aaron Suhler, in 1875 and joined the Union of American Hebrew Congregations in 1906, an association of Reform congregations.

Modern history[edit]

In 1947, a member of the Jewish community in Dallas began printing the Texas Jewish Post.[5] In 1957 the temple moved to its present location in North Dallas. Architects Howard R. Meyer and Max M. Sandfield, with noted California architect William W. Wurster as consultant, received an Award of Merit from the American Institute of Architects for the design of the present structure, which was enhanced by art coordinator György Kepes of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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."[2]

Early Merchant Community[edit]

Many Jewish merchants contributed to the growth of Dallas, often working together for the betterment of the city.[6] Because Jewish merchants were often the prime supporters of the community's cultural institutions and charities, their economic health often dictated the economic health of the city. Local newspapers received most of their income from advertising from Jewish merchants, enabling them to remain independent and impartial in their reporting unlike European newspapers which were often funded by a particular political party. Jewish merchants were often among the largest bank depositors and frequently sat on the boards of local banks.[7]


Private Jewish K-12 schools in the Dallas area include:[8]

  • Yavneh Academy of Dallas (grades 9-12)
  • Mesorah High School for Girls (grades 9-12)
  • Akiba Academy (grades PK-8)
    • Opened in 1962, it is currently located in the Schultz Rosenberg Campus,[9] named afer tdonrs named after the donors Howard and Leslie Schultz and Marcus and Ann Rosenberg. 115,000 square feet (10,700 m2) large, it had a cost of $20 million. It was originally at 6210 Churchill Way but moved in 2005. As of 2005 it had 300 students.[10]
  • The Ann and Nate Levine Academy (grades Early Education-8)
    • In 1979 the Solomon Schechter Academy of Dallas, then the day school of the Shearith Israel, opened. The institution and the school became separate institutions in 1997 and the school received its current name in 2005.[11]
  • Torah Day School of Dallas (TDSD) (grades K-8)
    • Opened in August 2003, it is located in a former supermarket and was renovated by Joe Funk Construction.[12]

Levine Academy is a Conservative Judaism school, and Yavneh is a Modern Orthodox school. The schools following Orthodox Judaism are Akiba Academy and Mesorah High.[13]

Isaac Mayer Wise Academy, a Reform Judaism school, was previously in operation.[13] The school, founded in 1996,[14] opened in 1997,[15] and closed in 2006.[14]

Prior to the 1970s Hillcrest High School was known as "Hebrew High" due to the number of Jewish students enrolled.[16]

Torah High School of Texas, an Orthodox Jewish high school for boys, opened in 1980 and was co-founded by Ronald Gruen. The school later closed; Gruen stated that it could not attract sufficient Dallas-area Jewish students.[17]

Notable Jews of Dallas[edit]

Other community members[edit]

Jack Ruby, killer of Lee Harvey Oswald, operated a nightclub in Dallas, but was a native of Chicago.


  1. ^ Jewish population small in number, large in influence in Texas Archived 2012-05-12 at the Wayback Machine. by Glenn Dromgoole. Abilene Reporter-News, 11 Mar 2007. Retrieved 2012-04-27. In this article, which is a review of Lone Stars of David: The Jews of Texas, ed. Hollace Ava Weiner and Rabbi Kenneth D. Roseman (Brandeis University Press), it is stated that Dallas' Jewish population of approximately 45,000 is the largest of any Texas city.
  2. ^ a b Jews from the Handbook of Texas Online
  3. ^ "The Jewish Community of Dallas". The Museum of the Jewish People at Beit Hatfutsot. 
  4. ^ Temple Emanu-El, Dallas from the Handbook of Texas Online
  5. ^ Texas Jewish Post from the Handbook of Texas Online
  6. ^ Ritz, David (November 2008). "The Jews Who Built Dallas - Even as the Klan made the city a stronghold, these merchants, bankers, and rabbis made it a great American city". D Magazine. 
  7. ^ a b "Titche--Goettinger Department Store," Texas Historical Commission Atlas. Retrieved 2011-08-22.
  8. ^ "Jewish Pre Schools, Day Schools & Adult Learning." Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas. Retrieved on April 2, 2017.
  9. ^ "History." Akiba Academy. Retrieved on April 2, 2017.
  10. ^ Langton, Elizabeth (2005-10-24). "Jewish schools couple form, function with new campus - N. Dallas: Academies are thrilled with work of 'spiritual architect'". The Dallas Morning News. p. 2B.  - NewsBank Record: 1180173180
  11. ^ "History." The Ann and Nate Levine Academy. Retrieved on April 2, 2017.
  12. ^ "Our History." Torah Day School of Dallas. Retrieved on April 2, 2017.
  13. ^ a b "Education and Day Care." Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas. February 24, 2004. Retrieved on April 2, 2017.
  14. ^ a b "Isaac Mayer Wise Academy and URJ Camp Establish Eco-Village." eJewish Philanthropy. August 15, 2011. Retrieved on April 2, 2017. "Resources to initiate the project were donated by the Board of the Isaac Mayer Wise Academy of Dallas, Texas. The Board chose the URJ Greene Family Camp to carry on its legacy and continue to reflect the Jewish values that guided the Academy from its founding in 1996 to its closure in 2006."
  15. ^ "Mission Statement." Wise Academy. August 10, 2003. Retrieved on April 2, 2017.
  16. ^ "40 years of DISD desegregation". Preston Hollow Advocate. 2011-07-22. Retrieved 2017-04-02. 
  17. ^ Lowrance, Christine (1993-05-31). "Jewish academy to open - High school to fill void, supporters say". The Dallas Morning News. p. 31A.  - NewsBank Record: DAL1338770
  18. ^ Emanuel Meyer Kahn from the Handbook of Texas Online
  19. ^ Minnie Lichtenstein Marcus from the Handbook of Texas Online
  20. ^ Sanger-Harris Collection, Texas Archival Resources Online, from the University of Texas at Austin. Retrieved 2011-08-22.
  21. ^ Dallas Independent School District information page for Edward Titche Elementary Archived 2010-02-25 at the Wayback Machine.
  22. ^ George E. Kessler from the Handbook of Texas Online

Further reading[edit]