Deep in the heart of Fort Worth
Photo: Courtesy Fort Worth Jewish Archives
Delegates to the second annual Texas Zionist Association convention met in Fort Worth over the New Year’s holiday in 1906-1907. In the front row, far left, stand Moses Shanblum, founder of Ahavath Sholom, and Rabbi Charles Blumenthal. The two men in the front row wearing bowties and light-colored overcoats are, from left, Ben Levenson and William Goldstein, longtime board members at Ahavath Sholom.

‘Israel at 75’: a fascinating exhibit through May 31

By Hollace Ava Weiner

Special to the TJP

The Golden Book of Donors, with its cover of ivory and brass and parchment pages binded in Jerusalem in 1926, is among the priceless artifacts displayed at “Deep in the Heart: Israel at 75,” a monthlong exhibit at Congregation Ahavath Sholom celebrating Israel’s jubilee year. The exhibit debuted April 30 at the Tarrant County Israel Independence Day celebration.

The Golden Book was commissioned nearly a century ago by the Fort Worth Talmud Torah at a cost of $500. (That’s $8,300 in today’s dollars.) Donors who wanted their names inscribed in the Golden Book contributed $200 to the Hebrew school. The current cost of an inscription is $300 — a bargain considering inflation. The book was crafted at Jerusalem’s Bezalel School of Arts and Crafts.

Also on display are vintage photos from Texas Zionist Association conferences that convened in Fort Worth and in Dallas in 1906 and 1907. Many of the delegates were local pioneers of Zionism. They envisioned a new Jewish homeland on ancient soil long before it caught the imagination of the general public or the attention of the United Nations.

In fact, in March 1948, eight weeks before Israel declared its independence, the Jewish Federation in Fort Worth received an emergency request from the United Jewish Appeal asking for a cash infusion of $100,000. With minimal discussion, the Federation board, chaired by Sol Brachman, voted to borrow the money from the Fort Worth National Bank. The minutes of that Federation meeting are part of the current exhibit.

These little-known facts and other rarely seen artifacts are part of the “Deep in the Heart” exhibit curated by the Fort Worth Jewish Archives. Also on display are 15 ancient oil lamps made of clay.

The exhibit includes postcards of Israel from the 1950s and the 1980s; a 28-minute video of Rabbi Robert Schur’s 1954 UJA mission trip to Israel; and a 12-minute slide show of color snapshots from recent visits to Eretz Yisrael by Tarrant County residents.

The exhibit opened at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, April 30, with a 75th birthday party and Israeli luncheon sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County. Activities included a trivia contest and scavenger hunt. “Deep in the Heart” runs through May 31.

Due to heightened security, visitors to the exhibit throughout the month of May must send an email to to arrange a guided tour.

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