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Another Promised Land A Texan Perspective On Southern Jewish History

Hosted By: Haberman Institute

Nearly forty years ago, the documentary film West of Hester Street attempted to shed light on the history of Jews in Texas by narrating the story of the Galveston Movement, a project that brought almost 10,000 Jews to the United States via the port on Galveston Island in the years before World War I. Today, Texas Jewish history and the larger history of Jews and Jewish communities across the southern United States are enjoying a 21st-century renaissance, as evidenced by the work of the Institute for Southern Jewish Life in Mississippi, the formation of the Houston Jewish History Archive at Rice University in 2018, and the opening of the new Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience in New Orleans this past May. Nevertheless, outside of Texas and the Deep South, Jews who have made this region their home remain something of an obscure curiosity.

Using rare archival materials from the collections in the Houston Jewish History Archive, this talk will highlight many of the core themes in Southern Jewish history — immigration, adaptation, socioeconomic mobility, and race relations — from a Texan perspective. We will also consider why preserving Jewish history in archives, especially in understudied and endangered communities, is so critical.

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