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The Fact That Texas House Speaker Straus Is Jewish Is An Issue With Some Conservatives

There is a fight taking place about who should be the next Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives.

The incumbent Speaker, Republican Joe Straus, was elected two years ago with the help of Democrats in the House.

With Republicans gaining many seats in this month’s election, some Republicans are calling for someone they feel would a more conservative Speaker to take the office from Mr. Straus.

Speaker Straus is Jewish.

Not surprisingly given the people involved in this contest , the fact that the Speaker is Jewish is becoming an issue in the race.

From TV Station KENS in San Antonio

“….a new series of attacks is coming from the Religious Right, with Straus’ religion used against him. On his blog, Texas Capitol Reporter Harvey Kronberg reports that robo calls have begun in parts of the state. The voice on the calls tells people to support a “true Christian speaker.” Joe Straus is Jewish. Furthermore, the Republican Liberty Caucus has come out in support of North Texas Republican Ken Paxton (R-McKinney), citing a New Testament Bible verse in its original endorsement. That verse has since been removed from the group’s officially posted endorsement.”

The Jewish Herald Voice is concerned. This newspaper has written about Jewish life in Houston and in Texas since 1908.

Jews have a long history in Texas.

From the excellent Handbook of Texas Online

“No aspect of nineteenth-century Texas history is without the involvement of committed Jewish Texans. Adolphus Sterne of Nacogdoches served as alcalde, treasurer, and postmaster in 1826, Albert Moses Levy was surgeon in chief in the revolutionary army in 1835, Jacob and Phineas De Cordova sold land and developed Waco, Simon Mussina founded Brownsville in 1848, Henri Castro founded several towns, Michael Seeligson was elected mayor of Galveston in 1853, Rosanna Osterman funded significant religious and charitable activities through her will, Sid Samuels and Belle Doppelmayer were in the first graduating class at the University of Texas in 1881, Olga B. Kohlberg started the first public kindergarten in Texas in 1893, and Morris Lasker was elected to the state Senate in 1895. Jews also established themselves in Beaumont, Brenham, Corsicana, Gainesville, Hempstead, Marshall, Palestine, Texarkana, Tyler, Port Arthur, Wichita Falls, Baytown, Corpus Christi, Brownsville, New Braunfels, McAllen, Alice, Amarillo, Columbus, Wharton, Giddings, Navasota, Crockett, Lubbock, Longview, Jefferson, San Angelo, and Schulenburg.”

A great book to learn about Jewish History in Texas is Lone Stars of David–The Jews of Texas.

An ongoing exhibit at the Houston Museum of Natural Science  is called Forgotten Gateway—Coming To America Through Galveston Island. A portion of this interesting exhibit is about how Jews were often denied entry into America through Galveston for no other reason but that they were Jewish. The program runs through February 20, 2011.

The photo below is of the Beth Yeshuran Jewish cemetery in Houston. The large grave in the middle of the photo is that of Private Nathan Pizer. Private Pizer was a United States Marine who was killed in action in France during WW I.

Jewish folks have long served our nation.

It makes no difference what religion anybody is when it comes to who can serve in public office. We must remain vigilant. So-called states rights views, now all the rage in Texas and elsewhere , have long been associated with intolerance and injustice.

We can either fight back against this un-American behavior, or we can see the years of our lives wasted by extremists who refuse to acknowledge the outcome of the Civil War.

Political independents who often vote for candidates of both parties need to please consider what they will be getting from Texas Republicans over the next two years.


November 17, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Holiday Gift: Lone Stars Of David–The Jews Of Texas

A holiday gift exchanged this year at my home was the book Lone Stars of David–The Jews of Texas.

The book is a collection of essays about being Jewish in Texas and the impact Jews have had over the years on Texas.

The book is published by Brandeis University Press.

From the publishers description of Lone Stars —

“Jewish life in the United States is too often told from an East Coast perspective. Lone Stars of David presents a different panorama, with narratives of Jews who ventured to Texas before the battle of the Alamo, who fought for the Confederacy, who herded cattle up the Chisholm Trail, who drilled for oil, and who forged Jewish communities far from New York’s Lower East Side. These essays also describe how Texas Jews faced the Ku Klux Klan and how they respond today to Christian fundamentalism.”

0.6% of Texans today are Jewish. That comes out to around 130,000 people.

While I’ve not yet time to read much of Lone Stars, it looks like a quality publication.

December 25, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment