Jewish Pioneers of Calvert Texas, 1983 – 1800
The Jews of Calvert, Texas first came to national attention in an article in The American Israelite, January 1874.
The Jewish Bevevolent Society of Calvert, Texas sent an article thanking the Jewish Benevolent Society of Galveston, Texas for sending, physicians, nurses and other necessities to aid them during an 1873 yellow fever epidemic.
The committee of the Calvert, Texas Hebrew Benevolent Society consisted of A. Eppstein, E. Keifer, H. Bergman and H. Weiss.
Calvert, Texas is located somewhat east of the geographical center of Texas.
Rabbi Jacob Voorsanger of Congregation Beth Israel of Houston, and later Temple Emanu-El of San Francisco, visited Calvert in October 1880, and sent an article to The American Israelite.
Later that year a second article was sent to The American Israelite by a gentleman who signed his name as “Socher.”
In 1900, the Jewish Publication Society listed twelve members in Calvert, including H. Morris.
R. Oscar was President of the informal congregation as well as a member of the City Council.
A. Eppstein was also a member of the Calvert City Council and had been President of the Hebrew Benevolent Society of Calvert.
Mr. & Mrs. H. Morris were hosts to Rabbi Voorsanger during his visit in 1880.
Calvert had a Sabbath School that surprised Rabbi Voorsanger with its high level of learning.
Mr. Leon Strauss was its leader and teacher.
During an evening address to the people of Calvert, Rabbi Voorsanger recommended that a physical synagogue was needed..
Money was pledged and a building committee formed.
The following day, Mr. R. Oscar, President of the Congregation, pledged that if the committee could find him land and fifteen hundred dollars, he would build the synagogue, regardless of its additional cost.
“Socher” sent his article to The American Israelite 2 months later:
There were twenty Jewish families in Calvert, all “highly esteemed by the gentile townsmen.”
Mr. A. Eppstein and Mr. R. Oscar were both chosen as members of the City Council.
Mr. Leon Strauss, who came to Calvert two years ago and started a private school, teaching all branches of English, German, and Hebrew.
His school numbers 40 pupils or which 16 are Jewish.
Additional Jewish studies are held on Saturday and Sundays.
Recently Mr. Strauss and the Calvert Hebrew Sabbath School gladdened us with a Chanukah festival, complete with readings, candle lightings and a service in Hebrew.
Two boys, Leopold Lazard and Joseph Weiss did the “Olenu.” and final readings were by Maxie Emanuel, Tillie Weiss, and Carrie Emanuel.
Jewish life was well on its way in the 1870s in Calvert, Texas.
However, they never constructed a synagogue.
For more information read the following article in Western States Jewish History
Calvert, Texas: Two Views, WSJH, Vol. XIV, No. 2
For interesting information about Jewish Calvert, Texas, also see; http://forttumbleweed.org/calvertjews.html