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Chapter 3

Congregation Beth Israel
Change and Growth… from the Roaring Twenties to Civil Rights
Third Temple 1925-1967

The period following World War I was the beginning of an era of unprecedented expansion in Houston. In 1925, Beth Israel moved once more and dedicated a new Temple on the corner of Austin Street and Holman Avenue. A sum of $100,000 was borrowed from the William Marsh Rice Institute for the Advancement of Literature, Science, and Art. Houston architect Joseph Finger, a member of the congregation, designed the large Greek classical building with its massive columns.

 

The span of the next four decades would take us through some of the most major historical, social, and technological changes ever experienced in such a brief time. From the great prosperity of the 20’s to the Great Depression, then the world at war again in WWII, followed by wars in Korea and Vietnam, to the Space Race and the Civil Rights movement. Beth Israel and its members played important roles and had an impact in each chapter of that history.

When Rabbi Barnston retired in 1943, Beth Israel had grown to a record 807 families. His successor was Dr. Hyman Judah Schachtel who was described as a “master of forensics and peerless pulpiteer.” Rabbi Schachtel was renowned as both a religious and civic leader. In 1965, Beth Israel members proudly watched as their rabbi delivered a prayer at the second inauguration of President Lyndon B. Johnson.

 

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