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Geller/Leff family collection

Identifier: MS 812
Finding aid note: Forms part of the Houston Jewish History Archive. Stored onsite at the Woodson Research Center in small collection.

Scope and Contents

This collection contains program, group photos, a news clipping, Rice Institute materials related to the Geller/Leff family and the organizations they were connected to, particularly congregation Beth Jacob and B’nai B’rith Youth. The materials are in good condition, though worn by age, and range in date from 1910 to the early 1980s. Researchers interested in the history of Rice University, congregation Beth Jacob, the Houston Jewish community, or members of the Geller/ Leff family would find this small collection insightful.


  • 1910 - 1985

Conditions Governing Access

This material is open for research. Stored onsite at the Woodson Research Center in small collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish material from the Geller/Leff family collection must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library.

The Woodson Research Center use policy is that researchers assume sole responsibility for any infringement of privacy, literary rights, copyrights, or other rights arising from their use of the archival materials. In addition to any restrictions placed by donors, certain kinds of archival materials are restricted for the life of the creator plus 50 years. These materials include, but are not limited to, student grades, transcripts, and any job applications or recommendations.

Biographical / Historical

Donator of the collection materials, Devora Geller Rubin is from a self-proclaimed “Rice Family.” She attended Rice her freshman year at 16 before going on to complete her schooling at UT Austin in 1948. Devora’s father, Abram Lewis Geller, graduated in the fourth class of the Rice Institute in 1920. Her husband and Dallas native, Louis Rubin, graduated from Rice in 1948, the same year as her cousin, Henry Geller. In addition, Rubin’s aunts Florence Kless Yellen and Beulah Axelrod Yellen, uncle Milton Yellen, and brother Jacob Geller all attended Rice.

In addition to its Rice connections, Rubin's family also has close ties to the Houston Jewish community. Her Grandfather, Rabbi Jacob Geller was rabbi of the Adath Israel congregation from 1910 until his passing, while her uncle, Rabbi Max Geller was the head of congregation Beth Jacob for a number of years. Rubin herself spent much of her youth in and around Beth Jacob, attending school across the street at Albert Sidney Johnson Junior High School.

Rabbi Jacob Geller was born in Galicia and received his rabbinical training there, becoming rabbi of the orthodox community of Galveston in 1892. While there he organized the Hebrew Orthodox Benevolent Association and dedicated a synagogue built by the Young Men's Hebrew Association. He served there for eighteen years, coming to Houston in 1910 to serve as rabbi of the Adath Israel congregation. He was elected for life tenure in November of 1929. He died February 10, 1930 at 67 years of age, survived by his wife Mrs. Sara Geller, eight children: Harry Geller, Samuel Geller, Abram L. Geller, Rabbi Max Geller, Mrs. Jacob Leff and Miss Esther Geller, Mrs. Goldie Minkes, and Mrs. Leah Gordon.

Rabbi Max Geller was born May 27, 1896 in Galveston County, Texas and served as the rabbi of congregation Beth Jacob for a number of years. In 1934, he was unanimously re-elected by the Congregation Adath Israel to serve as spiritual leader for a period of ten years. The first native Texan to become an orthodox Jewish minister, Rabbi Geller was also active in civic and philanthropic affairs of the community. He died on July 11, 1966 at 70 years of age.


0.10 Linear Feet (1 folder)

Language of Materials



The Geller/Leff family collection contains materials preserving the family’s connections to Houston, particularly Rice University and congregation Beth Jacob. Niece to Rabbi Max Geller and granddaughter to Rabbi Jacob Geller, collection donor Devora Geller Rubin provides her unique insight on the family’s history with commentary on several photographs and one program, dated across various decades.


The materials are arranged in two series and then further by date, as follows: Series I: Photographs Series II: Programs Series III: Addenda

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Devora Geller Rubin donated the materials in June of 2018.
Guide to the Geller/Leff family collection
Gabby Parker
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

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