By Gerry Cristol
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Extra info for A Light in the Prairie: Temple Emanu-El of Dallas, 1872-1997 (Chisholm Trail Series, No 17)
In two years the society grew to about fifty members who with their families numbered 200 people, a sizable group comparable to the 300 congregants belonging to Beth Elohim. In the Page 21 manner of their fellow advocates of reform in Germany, the society's "way of thinking" progressed far beyond just wanting to shorten and Anglicize the service. The reformers, deciding to incorporate relevant liturgy useful to them and the society in which they lived, assembled their own prayer book, which included some passages from the old ritual and a few original prayers.
The leader of the Reform Jews, particularly of those in the South and Midwest, was the redoubtable, dynamic Isaac Mayer Wise. In 1846 Wise, then a young man, set out from Bohemia intent on leaving behind religious authorities he deemed antiquated and charting a new direction in a new land. "8 In his community he challenged every slur on Jews and fought valiantly for the separation of church and state in the public schools and every public institution. Isaac Wise's most telling contribution to the Reform movement was Page 22 his successful effort to "stimulate, unify, and give direction" to American Reform Judaism.
Dallas had been founded in 1841 by John Neely Bryan, a wilderness scout with a wanderlust, a lawyer and town developer fresh from establishing the town of Van Buren, Arkansas. Originally, Bryan, riding his Indian pony Neshoba Tenva (Walking Wolf) and traveling with a Cherokee Indian named Ned and a bear dog called Tubby, came to the Three Forks of the Trinity in 1839 with the idea of setting up an Indian trading post. 5 Bryan's land appeared to be a prime spot for a trading post as it lay at the crossroads of two major Indian traces leading to buffalo country, one of which, the Preston Trail, later became a major Dallas thoroughfare, Preston Road.
A Light in the Prairie: Temple Emanu-El of Dallas, 1872-1997 (Chisholm Trail Series, No 17) by Gerry Cristol