GOD & TEXAS: Jewish Texans
“When I was here [Israel] for the first time some 18 years ago, and I was touring the country, the comparison between Masada and the Alamo was not lost on me, I mean, we’re talking about two groups of people who were willing to give up their lives for freedom and liberty.”
These poignant words by then Texas Gov. Rick Perry in 2009, highlight the lasting respect Texans have with the nation of Israel. The first known Jewish settler in Texas was Samuel Isaacs, who arrived in 1821, and became a part of Stephen F. Austin’s Old Three Hundred. Isaacs received land on the bend of the Brazos River in what is now Richmond and Rosenberg.
Another prominent Jewish settler was Abraham C. Labatt. He was known as a successful businessman, and founder of Reformed Jewish congregations from South Carolina to California. His integrity and strong interest in worship were greatly admired among those of the Jewish faith. Before finally settling in Galveston, Abraham partnered in several business ventures with Jacob Henry and Jacob Lyons in the port city of Velasco.
The Hon. Adolphus Stearne is still revered in the Jewish community. A native of Germany, he came to Texas in 1824. Adolphus spoke 4 languages fluently and could also converse in various Native American dialects including Choctaw. After becoming an attorney, Stearne was elected to both houses of the Texas congress.
While there were many more notable Texans of the Jewish faith, the comparison that Gov. Perry made between Masada and the Battle of the Alamo is inspiring. Masada (fortress) stands in Israel in the Judean desert near the Dead Sea. It was here that brave Israeli Zealots took their final stand in a revolt against the barbarous rule of Rome (66-73 AD).
History records that several fighters in the Alamo were Jews. Sixteen-year-old Galba Fuqua was one of the “Immortal 32” heroes from the Gonzales Ranger Company of Mounted Volunteers who reinforced the Texans under siege at the Alamo (March 1, 1836). Galba died in battle alongside Anthony Wolf and his two sons Benjamin (12) and Michael (11). They gave their lives for a greater cause.
The late senator John McCain said, “The richest men and women possess nothing of real value if their lives have no greater object than themselves.” Too many people waste their lives seeking “likes” on social media while the world around them crumbles under the weight of outlandish wickedness. We always have a choice to do good or to look away.
The ones who stood valiantly at Masada and the Alamo fulfilled the compelling challenge of Jesus in John 15:13 (NIV), “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Is there a cause? “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people.” (Proverbs 14:34 NIV)
Is it not decision time in America? Will we quietly lose our freedoms, or will we stand up, pay the price, and speak truth to power? Choose wisely.
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