Jewish American Heritage Month at the State Library and Archives

Rachel Union, Library Assistant

May is Jewish American Heritage Month and the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) pays tribute to the history and contributions of the Jewish people to the state of Texas and the United States. Our collections hold many items that tell the story of the diaspora of Jewish people, their history, and their lives as newcomers in a new land.

Jewish immigrants in temporary headquarters after arriving in Galveston during the Galveston Movement of the early 20th century. The markings on the photograph were most likely made while preparing the image for publication. Photo from the William Deming Hornaday Photograph Collection, 1975/070-1496. TSLAC. View image in the TDA.

The history of Jewish people first arriving on the shores of what is now the United States can be traced back to the late 16th century. Escaping persecution throughout the world and seeking a place to safely practice their Yiddishkeit (Yiddish -‘way of life’) and fully participate as citizens in the larger society, Jewish immigrants began arriving on multiple shores including the Gulf Coast. Although several people of Jewish descent were known to have traveled through parts of what is now Texas, the first Jewish immigrants to actually settle in the state are known to have arrived through Galveston in the early 19th century. This port city became the primary access point for Jewish immigrants a century later during the Galveston Movement of 1907-14 when Jewish organizations coordinated the arrival of thousands of Jews and helped them navigate to other destinations in the U.S. Within its various reference collections, haberes buenos (Ladino – ‘good news’) —TSLAC makes available multiple historical, genealogical, and literary resources about, and often authored by, Jewish Americans.

As one of the repositories for United States government documents (USD), TSLAC holds copies of Congressional hearings and government publications related to Jewish life both in the United States and around the world. Included in these stacks are hearings related to the Holocaust and ongoing antisemitism in the United States and abroad, newsletters from the United States Holocaust Museum, and nonfiction books that tell myriad of stories of Jewish life in the United States military from World War II to present day.

TSLAC’s Texas Documents Collection (TXD) also includes many resources related to Jewish American heritage and Jewish life throughout the world. From Jewish soldiers in the War of 1812 and to famous artists and businessmen, one can find much in the way of informative and enjoyable reading among our stacks.  

Interested in researching your Jewish American mishpocheh (Yiddish – ‘family’), locating long lost friends or community members, or studying the chronicles of Jewish Americans throughout the country? Take a peek at our Genealogy Collection (GEN). TSLAC holds several past volumes of the Jewish genealogical journal Avotaynu, as well as books on Jewish burials and guides to researching Jewish ancestry inside and outside the United States.

Not to make a big tzimmes (Yiddish – ‘a big deal’), but our main reference section (MAIN) also includes many titles relating to the history of Jewish American people and the familiar story of establishing livelihood in the land of strangers. Many of these titles speak directly to Jewish American life in Texas and include yearbooks and other information about synagogues around the state.

Many of the resources discussed here are available for circulation either through direct checkout from one of our locations or via interlibrary loan. Additionally, our reading rooms are open to everyone for on-site use of non-circulating materials.  Ask your local librarian for more information about interlibrary loan or, for Texas residents, check out our website to find information about the TexShare program. For those who prefer electronic materials, no need to schlep (Yiddish – ‘a big journey’) all the way to TSLAC. We also offers hundreds of Jewish related materials including biographies and books about holiday celebrations, history, politics, and more.  Engleneate! (Ladino – ‘enjoy’)

Ladino: A mixture of Hebrew and Spanish, Ladino was spoken by the Jewish people during the diaspora from Spain and Portugal in the 14th and 15th centuries.

Yiddish: A mixture of Hebrew and German, this language was spoken by the Jewish people of Central and Eastern Europe beginning sometime in the 9th century.

Both languages continue to be used today throughout Jewish communities around the world.



Call Number






Judaica at the Smithsonian: Cultural politics as cultural model

Grossman, Grace Cohen

SI 1.28 : 52


Never Again Education Act

United States, enacting jurisdiction

AE 2.110 : 116 – 141


Pacifist to padre: the World War II memoir of Chaplain Roland B. Gittelsohn, December 1941 – January 1946

Gittelsohn, Roland Bertram

D 214.513:P11


Remember the children: Daniel’s story: Teacher’s Guide

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Y 3.H 74 : 8 D 22/2/, PACKET


Comin’ right at ya : how a Jewish Yankee hippie went country, or, the often outrageous history of Asleep at the Wheel First edition.

Benson, Ray

Z UA380.8 B443co


Six memos from the last millennium : a novelist reads the Talmud First edition

Skibell, Joseph

Z UA380.8 SK31si


Why Harry met Sally : subversive Jewishness, Anglo-Christian power, and the rhetoric of modern love First edition.

Moss, Joshua Louis

Z UA380.8 M855wh


Pioneer Jewish Texans : their impact on Texas and American history for four hundred years, 1590-1990 1st ed.

Ornish, Natalie

Z TA475.8 OR6pi


Lone stars of David : the Jews of Texas

Weiner, Hollace Ava

976.400492 L847c


Fax me a bagel : a Ruby, the rabbi’s wife mystery

Kahn, Sharon

813.54 K122f


Deep in the heart : the lives and legends of

Texas Jews : a photographic history 1st ed.

Weingarten, Ruthe

976.4004 W725D OVER-T


In Jewish Texas : a family memoir

Ely, Stanley E.

976.4 EL94in


A student’s guide to Jewish American genealogy

Schleifer, Jay

929.1 SCH37st


From generation to generation : how to trace your Jewish genealogy and family history Rev. ed

Kurzweil, Arthur

929.1 K967F 1994


Where once we walked : a guide to the Jewish communities destroyed in the holocaust

Mokotoff, Gary

947 M729W


Texas Jewish burials, alphabetically by name

Teter, Gertrude M.

976.4 T291T