YEAR 65 Event celebrating Temple Israel being part of Schulenburg’s religious community for over 65 years. This house of worship was dedicated in September 1951 and
to commemorate this milestone and the Founding Members, many of their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and friends will come together to pay tribute to those who displayed a pioneering spirit over six decades ago that built a home for a small Jewish community in Central Texas. Everyone, of all faiths, who wish to attend the commemoration are welcome on Sunday, March 19th, 2017, from 1:00 – 3:00 pm., at Temple Israel, 211 Baumgarten Street in Schulenburg. For more information email us at email@example.com.
Prior to this building at the corner of Baumgarten Street and Kessler Avenue in Schulenburg, for many years worshipers from a tri-county area attended Jewish services in Hallettsville, Texas, often in the homes of members. As the congregation grew, the founding members discussed a move to a more permanent structure. It was decided to locate in Schulenburg, which was most centrally located to the congregants who resided in Columbus, Cuero, Edna, Flatonia, Hallettsville, La Grange, and Weimar.
During late 1947, a building committee traveled to San Antonio and consulted N. Strauss Nayfach & Company architects. Pledges were secured for $35,000 for construction of the building. Temple dues were set at $20 per year. The congregation of Temple Israel was at its peak numbers in the 1950s-60s. The four largest towns each had six or seven Jewish families or members; the smaller had three or four.
For many years, Temple Israel would bring in a student rabbi from the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio, to conduct the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services that are observed in early autumn. Also, in the late 1950s and into the 1960s, Sabbath services were held throughout the year on one Friday night a month and a covered-dish supper on one Sunday night a month. Members of the congregation, often with founding member Eli Rubin of Hallettsville leading the prayers and songs, participated in the services. The monthly covered-dish suppers were times of fellowship and times for friendly socializing over card games, typically bridge for the women and poker for the men.
Friday night services in later years became more intermittent, like in most Texas towns, in competition with Friday night high school football games. The High Holy Day services are still a mainstay of the smaller congregation, most now traveling in from other towns and cities. There has been no rabbi for many years. But, for over the past 25 years, the High Holy Day services have been led by Eli Rubin’s grandson, Richard Stein from Houston (married to Paula Schwartz Stein, whose father Hirsch Schwartz was also a founding member and former mayor of Schulenburg). Yom Kippur is a lay service lead by the Temple President and all members participate in the readings. The congregation also holds a community Seder for Passover and a Chanukah Party each year.
At a time when many congregations have to permanently close the doors of their temples because of dwindling Jewish populations in rural towns, Temple Israel is hoping to keep going for many more years and be a vital part of the religious community of Schulenburg and the surrounding area.