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Congregation Beth Israel collection

Identifier: MS 0711
Finding aid note: Forms part of the Houston Jewish History Archive. Stored off-site at the Library Service Center. Please request this material via or call 713-348-2586.

Content Description

The Congregation Beth Israel Collection is made up of programs and catalogues, directories, historical documents, memorabilia, books, sermons, and temple bulletins depicting the day-to-day running of one of Houston’s largest congregations. The materials are in good condition and range in date from 1854 to 2012. Researchers interested in the Houston Jewish community, particularly the events and goings-on associated with Congregation Beth Israel would find this collection insightful.


  • Creation: 1854 - 2012


Conditions Governing Access

This material is open for research.

Stored off-site at the Library Service Center. Please request this material via or call 713-348-2586.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish from this material must be facilitated through the Woodson Research Center.

Biographical / Historical

Established in 1854, Congregation Beth Israel is one of the oldest Jewish congregations in Texas, and boasts a long and fascinating history. A center of the national Reform Jewish movement, the congregation serves more than 1,600 households throughout the greater Houston area. The campus can be found in Southwest Houston and offers weekly Shabbat Services, Torah study, and a number of educational, cultural, and social programs. Congregation Beth Israel also supports a religious school in the Miriam Browning Jewish Learning Center, and the Shlenker school, providing over 800 students with quality education, grounded in Jewish values. The clergy team is currently (2019) led by Senior Rabbi David Lyon.

A famous figure on the Houston Jewish scene, Rabbi Hyman Judah Schachtel served as the Senior Rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel from 1943 to 1975, and as Rabbi Emeritus from 1975 to 1990. Hugely influential, Schachtel wrote a number of books including “The Real Enjoyment of Living” and “The Life You Want to Live,” hosted his own radio show on KODA-FM, and delivered the inaugural prayer for President Lyndon B. Johnson in Washington D.C. in 1965.


4.25 Linear Feet (8 boxes)

Language of Materials



The Congregation Beth Israel Collection offers a glimpse into the day-to-day goings-on of Congregation Beth Israel, with documents spanning a century of the Jewish temple’s existence. Books, memorabilia, directories, programs, sermons, and church bulletins from different decades show the similarities and changes at Beth Israel as it continues to grow with the rest of Houston’s Jewish Community.


The materials are arranged in six series, as follows:

Series I: Programs and Catalogues

Series II: Directories

Series III: History and Memorabilia

Series IV: Books

Series V: Temple Bulletins

Series VI: Oversize

Immediate Source of Acquisition

A portion of the materials were donated by Judy Weidman, of Congregation Beth-Israel, Houston, Texas, via Dr. Josh Furman, Rice University in November of 2017. The remainder of the materials were donated by Ann Schactel, via Dr. Josh Furman during February of 2018.

Related Materials

Drawn from one of the same donations, more materials regarding Rabbi Schachtel can be found in the Rabbi Hyman Judah Schachtel papers, MS 730.

Guide to the Congregation Beth Israel collection, 1854-2012
Amanda Focke and Gabby Parker
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Woodson Research Center, Rice University, Houston, Texas Repository

Fondren Library MS-44, Rice University
6100 Main St.
Houston Texas 77005 USA