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Texarkana: Jewish Historical Society holds annual event

by Rhonda Morrow | March 25, 2011 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated July 7, 2015 at 5:37 p.m.

Rediscovering the history of Jewish families in Texarkana is the focus of the Annual Gathering of the Texas Jewish Historical Society at Mount Sinai Congregation Temple.

The three-day event begins at 7:45 p.m. today with the congregation's regular weekly service (Shabbat) at 1310 Walnut St.

The event continues Saturday with a tour of several sites in town, ending at Mount Sinai Cemetery in State Line Cemetery.

At 6:30 p.m. Saturday, the society will meet at Park Place restaurant to hear keynote speaker Melvin Kusin. Kusin's family was the longtime owner of Texas Furniture in downtown Texarkana.
He will share stories about "Growing up Jewish" in the city.

The event ends Sunday with the annual business meeting.

"The Texas Jewish Historical Society has about 1,000 members and is one of the largest regional societies in the country," said founding president Rabbi Jimmy Kessler. "Its purpose is to record the presence of the Jewish community in Texas for future generations. The idea is to preserve history."

The society was established in 1980. Kessler said the society has influenced others to investigate Jewish history in the state. For example, it has funded a display in the Institute of Texan Cultures in San Antonio and helped the University of Texas at Austin with its Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies.

Kessler said the society focuses on history from the colonial period forward. However, it also teaches what he called a little-known fact: Jews initially came to Texas with the conquistadors.

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