Early Beaumont Jewish Community 13
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Space will permit only a minute statement of local Jewish history beyond 1902, but the writer would be remiss if he failed to mention more of Jake Nathan, the entrepreneur-merchant who always “sold it for less.” A newspaper article of 1900 described him as owning the “leading and largest clothing store” in Beaumont, a thirty by ninety foot edifice with displays on both floors. Located in the Goodhue block opposite the depot, the store employed ten clerks. By 1910, Nathan’s occupied a new four-story building, and the number of employees had tripled.50

By 1906, Beaumont had one synagogue, valued at $10,000, and with sixty-five members. Its Jewish Sabbath school had 45 children in attendance.51 Rabbi Friedlander had replaced Rabbi Levy in October, 1901. His successor was Rabbi Elkin, Dr. Samuel Rosinger, who came in 1910, would devote fifty years of his life to Beaumont’s religious and secular matters. At the end of the first quarter of the twentieth century, Temple Emanuel completed a new synagogue at 848 Broadway, at a cost of $110,000 and designed to accommodate 600 worshippers. In 1925, a sister congregation, Kol Israel, was also meeting at the corner of Pine and Elizabeth streets.52

This brief account is only a page of a story that might fill a book. Beaumont’s Jewish community is now over a century old, and in barely a decade more Congregation Temple Emanuel will celebrate its centennial anniversary.

For the nearly 1,000 Jews of Beaumont, and other Jews and congregations within the Golden Triangle, their heritage is indeed rich and immense. It developed solely because a few hardy souls, their Mosaic ancestors, chose to brave the unknown quantities of the “sawdust city” (Beaumont) in search of a better way of life, and they proceeded then to contribute their work and talents to it.

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50Sabine Pass News, May 5, 1900; Photo, Nathan Dry Goods Company, B. C. C., Beaumont: The Twentieth Century City, 1912, p. 13; biography, Jake J. Nathan, Souvenir, Beaumont, Texas, 1903 (Dallas: 1903), p. 20.

51B. C. C., Beaumont: The City Awake, 1906, pp. 6, 10, 16.

52Blum et al., “Founders and Builders,” pp. 11-12; B. C. C. Statistical Review of the Progress of Beaumont for 1925, pp. 84.85. Note: all annual Board of Trade and Chamber of Commerce bulletins referred to in the footnotes may be authenticated in the Tyrrell Historical Library. Pre-1893 Daily News microfilm is available through interlibrary loan from North Texas State University library. Daily News microfilm, 1893-1912, is available at Lamar University, Mary and John Gray Library.

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