At Home on the Range: Jewish Life in Texas
One Hour Television Documentary

This program explores the Jewish experience in the Lone Star State. For over 150 years Jews have played a vital role in the development of Texas. Their impact has been felt in the large cities and the smaller towns that dot the state. By tracing the lives of both the early settlers and those who today call Texas home, this rich history is brought to life

From the oil fields of East Texas, the cattle ranches of West Texas, and the citrus groves of South Texas, the Jewish people have had a great impact across the state. The early pioneers followed economic opportunity -- usually to the rural areas just beginning to develop. In the most unlikely of places, these Jews built thriving communities. They established cemeteries, synagogues, and religious schools. They were seen as an integral part of the community and interacted with their gentile neighbors on almost every level.

However, as economic opportunity shifted towards the larger cities, these communities lost much of their Jewish population. Without a strong core of people, many were unable to maintain the institutions they had struggled so hard to develop.

"A welcome addition to the small but growing history of Jewish life here." -- TEXAS MONTHLY


Excerpts

"In the 1870s, San Angelo was actually owned by a Jew, Marcus Koeningheim. He had lent Bart Dewitt $1500 to buy land in that area. When Dewitt defaulted on the loan, Marcus found himself the owner of a garrison town full of saloons and brothels and gambling dens. He once tried to trade it all for a barrel of whiskey, but the man with the barrel refused, saying that at least his whiskey was worth something."

--Suzanne Campbell
Fort Concho Historical Society


"The sheriff we had here was named Goldberg. I got a call from a Goldberg in Houston. He said: 'Leon, I want to ask you a question. There’s a sheriff in Brehnam named Goldberg, is he Jewish?' So I stopped him on the street one day and said: 'Sheriff I want to ask you a question. Are you Jewish?' The sheriff said: 'Leon, I was probably Jewish. But the family came here and there weren’t any Jewish girls to marry. Everyone intermarried and I'm Lutheran today. But I was probably Jewish at one time.'"

--Leon Toubin
Brenham, Texas


Distribution

Television Premiere:
KEDT South Texas Public Broadcasting, 1996

Film Festivals:
Magnes International Film and Video Festival, San Francisco