Texas: A Lot of Land, A Lot of Horses, Not a Lot of Jews

Still From The Frisco KidI grew up Jewish in a very non-gefilte fish eating part of Texas. It took us at least forty-five minutes to drive across town to temple, and if a Hasidic dude in black hat and coat strolled through my neighborhood I’m pretty certain the neighbors would have formed a militia.

I didn’t have it as bad as my dad with his black curly hair growing up in the 1960s, a lone snake-catching, horse-riding Jew in Fort Worth back before Fort Worth had fancy museums and vegan restaurants. Texas: a lot of land, a lot of horses, not a lot of Jews. My dad can read Hebrew as well as he can hunt deer and he eats pickled herring and baby back ribs with equal gusto. It’s funny to me that Bob Dylan and the Coen Brothers seem to have a desire to be Jewish cowboys. They should have a beer with my dad so he could learn ‘em a thing or two.

I remember when I found my dad’s high school yearbook as a young’un. I flipped through it expecting to see lighthearted notes like “Have a neat summer!” or “Math class was super!” Instead I found things like: “To the only Jew I like,” or: “You’re a dirty Jew but an OK golfer.” I was a very serious child, so when I saw this I marched dramatically into the den, where my dad was watching The Searchers for the zillionth time. John Wayne is his hero.

I shoved the yearbook in his face. “Dad! Did you see this?!” I was ready to grab picket signs and form my own militia. Dad scanned his yearbook notes and grinned. “Honey,” he said, stifling his smile when he saw the fury in my face, “It was a different time. They were my friends.” He went back to watching John Wayne rewrite the pronunciation of “Comanche.” I retreated with the heavy yearbook, totally confused.

Nowadays I’m much less serious, and the Texas side meshes pretty seamlessly with the Russian Jew side of my life. Rodeos and Purim carnivals aren’t as different as they seem.

What do you think?

About The Author


Dina Gachman is a Texan adrift in Los Angeles. She pens the blog Bureaucracy for Breakfast: The continuing saga of one girl’s plight with unemployment, which is a comedic take on a not-so-funny subject. Her main goal for 2011 is facing her biggest fear and going diving with Great White sharks. It’s gonna happen. Then she’s gonna write about it.

11 Responses

  1. David

    This post is ignorant. There’s a lot of Jews in Texas. 2 minutes of research on Google would show you that. Maybe there weren’t a lot of Jews in the goyishe area that Dina Gachman grew up in, but, for example, Dallas has well over 50,000 Jews.

  2. Aaron

    I agree with David, this post is inaccurate, misleading at best. I grew up in Dallas, and now live in Houston. In Dallas I belonged to one of the many huge congregations, went to JCC summer camp every year,and was involved in BBYO – along with the thousands of other young Jews. Here in Houston I’m staying pretty busy with all the Jewish life as well. And in any major city in Texas, it is not at all uncommon to see religious Jews walking to and from Shul on Shabbat or the holidays.

    Not to mention UT has quite a few Jewish fraternities and sororities, a super nice Hillel, and an active community outside of the University.

    While I have gotten my fair share of Jewish jokes over the year, haven’t we all?

    Now, if you’ll excuse me I have to go get ready for the Houston Hillel Shabbat dinner that is going to be PACKED, and leave early to join another family who invited me. PLENTY OF JEWS TO GO AROUND IN TEXAS. Maybe we should stick CAMERA on you guys.

  3. dinagachman

    Hi guys, I appreciate your comments and I do realize there ARE Jews in TX but this is my first person, personal experience and in the area I grew up in they WOULD have formed a militia. I’m not trying to speak for all TX Jews, this is just my own personal life experience.

  4. Ethan

    I also agree with David and Aaron. It’s kind of disappointing to see that there are such ignorant and sheltered people out there that don’t even grasp the reaches of our own culture and people. I am from a very small town in Western, PA that is about 45 miles east of Pittsburgh. There are definitely not that many Jews; but, that’s not to say there aren’t ANY Jews. Now, let’s fast forward to moving to Houston, TX and you will actually see entire Jewish communities. I appreciate what it’s like being from a small town, and it sucks… but get out of your shell. There are large Jewish communities in all of the major cities in Texas (Houston, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio) that would encompass at least 300,000 Jews if not more. I’m not sure if 300,000 is a large enough number for you; but, I guess if you’re looking at a Jew per square-mile count, then maybe Texas is kind of small. Either way, I really hope that you travel a little bit more and in the future not make such embarassing and elementary remarks as you’re really doing the Jewish people a huge disservice by posting such moronic posts as these. Shabat Shalom!

  5. Howard

    Wherever you go, there’s always someone Jewish. This song was a pretty accurate depiction of the place I grew up in Dallas. Yes I know there are a lot of Jews in Dallas, and I had a lot of Jewish friends through temple and youth groups, but at my high school of over 2000, I could count the Jews on two hands. I received the hate calls as early as kindergarten, was the first Jew kids had met, etc… Sure, just down the road the high school was 40% Jewish, but in my day-to-day and working at Chick-fil-A, I was a rare Jewish bird. Your comments about Dina are ridiculous. She wrote a first person anecdote about one part of her life growing up. That doesn’t make her stupid, it makes you humorless.

  6. Rick

    Geez!! Lighten up won’t you! She was writing a short humorous article. We all know there nare jews in Texas but give the girl a break! I thought it was a cute funny article and I love the headline!

  7. Danielle

    Dina is absolutely right – she is writing about her own experience from her own point of view. I have lived here for more than 20 years and I agree – our kids have always been the only Jewish kids in their schools, High Holidays were always a bone of contention (principles wanted us to bring a note from the rabbi that our kids actually attended services so they could be excused). Besides, I like Dina’s sense of humor, and I like her post.


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