Friday, April 11, 2008

Gee, Another Jewish Settlement

No, not in "occupied" territory.

In Wharton, Texas.

Wharton, the county seat of Wharton County, is on the east bank of the lower Colorado River, forty-five miles from the Gulf of Mexico.

Read on:-

The Tee Pee Motel here with its 10 adobe wigwams was up and running again after being closed for 23 years, and Bob Phillips, the Texas Country Reporter, was on it, barreling in with his television crew in his Ford Explorer daubed in the billowing red, white and blue of the Texas flag.

Mr. Phillips fortified himself with barbecue and prepared to zero in on questions concerning the how and why of the reopening of the Tee Pee Motel near Houston after 23 years.

There were pressing questions. Who would buy a rundown 1942 motor court for $60,000 and put $1.6 million into renovating it? And did Geronimo’s great-grandson really show up recently in this old Jewish settlement town(*), birthplace of Dan Rather and Horton Foote, to stay there?



Congregation Shearith Israel was a Jewish Texan kehilla in Wharton, Texas. This rural Texan kehilla held Jewish services for over 100 years (1899-2002).

Jewish immigrants, arriving as early as the 1850s, established additional businesses and began the Congregation Shearith Israel, the only synagogue in a three-county area. A first synagogue building was erected on S. Rusk Street in 1921. Although centered in the town of Wharton, the community has members in two counties adjacent to Wharton County and the towns of Bay City, El Campo, Edna, East Bernard, Palacios and Boling. The community has over a century of Jewish history and held for many years, the Shearith Israel annual barbecue. This event would be attended by many from the three county area. The present synagogue, holder of an historic landmark, was built in 1956 on Old Lane City Road. A Jewish cemetery was established on N. Alabama Rd. in 1937. The synagogue received an historical marker in 1988. The synagogue held its last service, led by Rabbi Jerome Cohen, in 2002. Worship services began in about 1899.

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