Presenters: Keynoter, Allen Mondell and Film Co-Director Cynthia Mondell, Media Projects


1:00 PM

1:15 - 2:15 PM


West of Hester Street, a docudrama about Jewish immigrants settling in America's heartland in the early 1900s, interweaves the Galveston Movement with a warm personal story of one immigrant and his family. Faced with poverty and death, millions of Eastern European Jews poured into America in the early 1900s. They crowded into ghettos along the Eastern seaboard. Jewish leaders grew concerned that the U.S. government would soon close its doors to these new immigrants.They devised a plan to bring thousands of immigrants through the port of Galveston, Texas to settle them throughout America’s heartland. This plan became known as the “GALVESTON MOVEMENT”. There were even some unexpected results. “I told them I was a blacksmith,” said one greenhorn. “So who knew from a blacksmith? I had to say something. So I became a peddler. Peddler. . .shmeddler, if it earned me an honest living, I’d do it.” With great warmth and humor, the documentary interweaves the dramatized events of the Galveston Movement with the story of a young Jewish peddler who journeys from Russia to Texas.

The late Sam Jaffe narrates the immigrant’s heart-warming story.

2:20 - 3:20 PM

Immigrants at inspection station in Galveston, c.1910 (Rosenberg Library).jpg

Presenters: Bette Evans, Jan Hart, Harry Harelik, and David Hoffman

The concrete legacy of the Jewish immigrants of the Galveston Movement is their descendants--their ban children and grandchildren, who lived with their successes, fears, and ambiguities.  Along with their prosperity, acceptance, and material successes, the Galveston immigrants lived with compromises to Jewish observances and traditions, and with the reality of being perpetual outsiders, striving for acceptance. Our generation lived near our immigrant grandparents. Our experience was life in two worlds--The pervasively Protestant culture of our Texas towns, where we learned more gospel songs than Hebrew liturgy, practiced traditions we didn’t quite understand and ate barbecue and kugel, fried chicken and matzoh ball soup.  We grew up with questions from friends about whether we believed in God, and we experienced pressure to be perfect because everything we did would reflect on the Jews. We are the living legacy of the Galveston Jews.   

This panel gathers third generation descendants of the Galveston movement, who grew up in the presence of those immigrants in the small Texas towns where they settled. The panel’s aim is for sociological reflection rather than nostalgia.   Because we were outsiders both to urban Jewish communities and rural communities in which we lived, most of us developed an “outsider’s viewpoint” that enabled us to both cherish the legacies of the immigrant generation and to contextualize it.   Our discussions will include topics such as religions education, living Jewish in a Christian culture, differences between rural Jews and our urban counterparts, Assimilation pressures, acceptance, and marginality.   

Presenter: Dr. Bryan Stone

4:15 - 4:45 PM

Conference Program Breakout Sessions

“Breakout” Rooms will be scheduled to continue conversations not only with the speakers/presenters but also a chance to “meet up” with other attendees. More information will follow.

3:25 - 4:00 PM

“Significant Jewish Figures in Las Cruces,    New Mexico in the 20th Century”

Presenter: Noel Pugach

This session explores the experiences and contributions of  Sam Klein to the economic and political life of Southern New Mexico.Sam Klein owned a furniture store and served in many official capacities, including as mayor and city commissioner of Las Cruces.


9:15 - 10:15 AM

“Through Galveston into the Hinterland: The Galveston            Movement Immigrants and the Communities They Entered” 

9:00 AM

Cassel immigrants, list of destinations (JIIB Records).jpg

This talk provides historical background behind the Galveston Movement, its goals, and ideological motives and offers an interpretation that focuses on the immigrants themselves and the communities they became part of. Viewed this way, the Galveston Movement can be understood as an effort with national scope and importance. Galveston was the port of entry, and Texas received more immigrants than any other state, but this was not fundamentally a Texas event: altogether the immigrants were dispersed from Galveston to 236 American communities in 32 states. This presentation is based on Dr. Stone’s ongoing research on the immigrants’ subsequent lives, reflecting how the Galveston immigrants and the American communities they entered affected each another over time.

10:20 - 11:00 AM

Presenter: Naomi Sandweiss

Participants will learn about the secular and Jewish communities of early-mid 20th century Amarillo and Albuquerque through the business, family and religious experiences of my relatives, Latvian-born brothers David (1886-1971) and Louis (1888-1973) Meyer. The Meyer brothers, trained as tailors, immigrated to the US via the UK and married two sisters before settling in the Southwest and building businesses, communities and congregations while maintaining their religious observance.   

11:05 - 11:45 PM

Presenter: Haidee Joy


Synagogue Doors of Mexico & Mexican Jewish Influences will focus on illustrations and photographs of synagogue doors in Mexico and Mexican influenced doors in other cities and regions. She will be emailing photographs of Synagogue doors of Mexico, including cities and other locations in Mexico. Haidee’s presentation includes an overview of the influence Jews have had in Mexico over the years.   

12:00 - 12:30 PM

Conference Program Breakout Sessions

“Breakout” Rooms will be scheduled to continue conversations not only with the speakers/presenters but also a chance to “meet up” with other attendees. More information will follow.