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Chapter 2

Congregation Beth Israel
A new century, a new home. . .
Second Temple 1908-1925

At the turn of the new Century, Rabbi Henry Barnston became Beth Israel’s rabbi, a position he would hold for nearly 44 years. After the 1900 Storm devastated Galveston, the discovery of oil nearby and the deepening of Buffalo Bayou led to extraordinary growth in Houston. A new wave of European immigrants looking for new lives began to arrive here through the Galveston Plan. Beth Israel’s members contributed much to the Houston community in which they lived, from banking to retail, to education, and more. Levy, Fox, and Westheimer were just a few of the respected names at Beth Israel and across Houston.

As Houston grew, so grew the congregation which built three new Temple homes over the next century. In 1908, under Rabbi Barnston’s leadership, a new “Romanesque” Temple was built and dedicated at the corner of Lamar and Crawford, Beth Israel’s second permanent home, located adjacent to what is now the George R. Brown Convention Center. On our history walls near the entrance to the Wolff-Toomim Meditation Garden, you can see some of the original bricks and two of the beautiful stained glass windows that once graced the Temple’s front edifice.


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