Beth-El Congregation
Centennial 1902-2002

A lavishly illustrated, limited-edition centennial book about Fort Worth’s reform Jewish community.

Available by special order. Telephone Beth-El Congregation, 817-332-7141. Price, $30. Payment by check or credit card.

The entire book is online and can be viewed here:
http://www.bethelfw.org/about-us/history2/centennial


When her congregation turned 100, Hollace Weiner dove into the task of documenting its centennial history. Previously, while conducting research on rabbis, Hollace had poured through dozens of grass-roots histories of churches and synagogues. She realized the importance of interviewing old timers, gathering frank recollections, and collecting vintage photos. Only a congregant on the scene can capture the conflicts, controversies, and anecdotes that epitomize turning points in the life of such an institution.

Beth-El . . . Centennial documents and illustrates:

  • The 1948 fire that gutted the Temple shortly after the mortgage had been paid off. The cause was a men’s smoker-and-poker party the night before. Congregants were crestfallen—and embarrassed—when poker chips floated down the street along with water from the firemen’s hoses.

  • The book spotlights famous congregants such as I.N. Mehl, the world’s first professional coin collector; Broadway producer Sherwin Goldman; longtime Congressman Martin Frost; Fort Worth Mayor Bayard Friedman; Morton Meyerson, for whom the Dallas performing arts hall is named.

  • The congregation may have been started in 1902 by 43 men, but when it fell apart in 1903, it was the women who revived the congregation, recruited a rabbi, taught Sunday School, and raised money at the Fat Stock Show to start a building fund.

As Cowtown turned into a family town, Beth-El was an important element of the city.  This commemorative narrative celebrates the longevity of Beth-El Congregation. It also serves as a case history, studying the components of a vibrant, stable synagogue that persisted and thrived throughout the ups and downs of the twentieth century. 

 

 
Photos courtesy Beth-El Archives, Fort Worth.

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