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Historical Marker: The Galveston Movement2020-01-23T15:15:33-06:00

The Galveston Movement

Historical Marker

814 22nd, Galveston, TX (Directions)

One of over 200 historical markers on the island, this marker indicates a time when Jewish communities fled Russia and Eastern Europe for the South instead of the East Coast.  The marker was erected in 2009 by the Texas Historical Commission.

The Galveston Movement Historical Marker

Inscribed

“By the late 1800s, thousands of Jews began fleeing their homes in Russia and Eastern Europe to escape anti-Semitic policies and violent pogroms. Many immigrated to the U.S., establishing communities in New York City and elsewhere along the east coast. Overcrowding in these neighborhoods coincided with growing anti-Semitic sentiment. The Galveston movement, a humanitarian effort that brought nearly 10,000 Jewish immigrants through the Port of Galveston between 1907 and 1914, was initiated to address these issues by dispersing Jews throughout the U.S. Jacob Schiff, a banker and philanthropist, championed the idea of bringing Jews to the south. He was the sole donor of the plan, pledging $500,000. Galveston was chosen because its railroads and relatively small size would encourage immigrants to move elsewhere. It was also home to Rabbi Henry Cohen, leader of the local reform synagogue B’Nai Israel, and a small but thriving Jewish community. The first ship to arrive under the plan was the S.S. Cassel, on July 1, 1907, from Bremen, Germany; 86 of the passengers were Jewish. Cohen welcomed the new immigrants, as he would every group that came during the program. The arrivals were processed at the Jewish Immigrants’ Information Bureau (JIIB) Headquarters. JIIB workers informed them of communities needing workers of varying skills and gave the immigrants railroad tickets and rations. More than 150 towns requested that the JIIB send skilled workers. In 1914, the program ended when the JIIB office in Galveston closed. A total of 9,332 Jews came through Galveston. While the number of Jews living in the American Midwest, South and West has never matched the numbers living in the East, the program brought thousands of Jews to places they had never imagined. (2008)”


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