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Dallas Hebrew Free Loan Association

 

History & Founders

A Hand-up Not A Handout
The Dallas Hebrew Free Loan Association
was born in 1935 when a group of prominent
Dallas Jewish businessmen met at a
grocery store to assess the financial needs
of the local Jewish community.

Read the minutes of this historic meeting.

FOUNDING FATHERS

Morris Banks  •  Max Glazer  •  J. Manuel Hoppenstein
Sam Kassed
  •  Joseph Kirschner  •  Elly Lerer  •  Mike Levine  •  Louis Okon
Daniel Rabinowitz
  •  Wolf Reisberg  •  Reuben Robinson
Simon Selinger  •  Aaron T. Stillman  •  Jacob Winer


Morris Banks

MORRIS BANKS

Morris was born in Minsk, Russia in 1866. At an early age he emigrated with his family to Scotland where he lived for a while before emigrating to the United States by himself. He traveled by horse and buggy, selling pots and pans and was in Oklahoma during the land rush. He came to Dallas around 1887 at the age of 21. He met and married, Minnie Axelrod, age 17, when he was 28 and together they had 6 children. He became a fruit and vegetable vendor, selling again by horse and buggy and later from an open truck with a driver. He was a member of Congregation Agudas Achim where he regularly attended services. He always had food to give to people in need from his inventory. He was a very quiet and unassuming man who loved cowboy movies. Minnie passed away in 1921 at the age of 44 and Morris died in 1936 at the age of 70.

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Max GlazerMAX GLAZER

Max Glazer was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1898 and came to Dallas with his family in 1909. His father, Louis Glazer, started a soft drink company, Jumbo Bottling Company, and Max worked in the family business. When prohibition was repealed in 1933, Max led the family into spirits and wine and founded Glazers Wholesale Drug Company, later renamed Glazer Distributors, today a major force in the liquor industry. Max’s philanthropic efforts, many of them anonymous, touched almost every facet of Dallas civic and religious life. He was a member and supported all of the area synagogues. The Jewish Federation was one of the organizations in which he actively worked for many years. He was one of the leaders to initiate a million dollar emergency fund here to rescue displaced persons in European camps and move them to Palestine after WWII. He led the campaign in 1952 to build Golden Acres, the Dallas Home for the Jewish Aged. It was said that he could not resist any kind of appeal for help. The list of causes he supported is too long. One anecdote that gave considerable insight into the man, Max Glazer, was that when his company manager returned from 3 years service in WWII, the manager discovered his job still being held for him and that he had been kept on the payroll the entire time, with Max keeping his salary for him in the company safe. Max passed away in December, 1962 at the age of 65.

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J. Manuel HoppensteinJ. MANUEL HOPPENSTEIN

J. Manuel Hoppenstein, known by his friends as “Manny”, was born March 17, 1910 in Waco, Texas of parents who came from Lithuania. He received his law degree and was admitted to the Bar in 1933. The following year he moved to Dallas. In the late 1930’s he was assistant city attorney in Dallas and thereafter in solo practice until 1965 when he became a senior partner in the firm of Hoppenstein and Prager. When he moved to Dallas, Manny met Stella Mosesman whom he married in 1935. He belonged to and was active in Congregation Agudas Achim. He was instrumental in helping create the concept and the development of the Hertze Chaikel Talmud Torah Hebrew school. Manny was part of a small group of men who, when there was someone in need, would collect funds and see that it would get to that person, absolutely anonymously. He was a key individual and most involved in the setting up of the legal structure of the Dallas Hebrew Free Loan Association, and served as it first Board Chairman Later he became a member of Congregation Shearith Israel and was instrumental in the initial building program of the current campus as well as being a past president. Manny was also very active in many causes dealing with the problems of mental retardation. J. Manuel Hoppentstein passed away on January 29, 1983 at the age of 72.

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Sam KassedSAM KASSED

Sam Kassed was born in Poland in 1888. His marriage to Anna Premack was pre-arranged and he only met her a day before the wedding in February 1912. The next day, they left for the U.S., being sponsored by his sister, came through Ellis Island, and settled in Providence, Rhode Island where he was in the store fixture business with a brother-in-law. His first 3 children were born in Providence. Around 1926 he moved the family to Natchitoches, Louisiana where they were the only Jews and where his fourth child was born. He was a furrier and was in the oil business, but moved back to Rhode Island when the depression hit. His fifth and last child was born there and the Kassed family then moved to Dallas in 1934 looking for better opportunities. He had stores in the jewelry business, pawn business and retail ardware. As a member of Congregation Agudas Achim, Sam was always involved in Jewish philanthropy. He was generous to a fault and deeply believed in Tzedakah and Judaism. He was a founder of Golden Acres and was a long time member and head of the Chevra Kadisha. Sam, in addition to being a founder of our organization he was also a past president. Sam Kassed passed away in May, 1965 at the age of 76.

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Joseph Kirschner JOSEPH KIRSCHNER

Joseph Kirschner was born in a little village outside Warsaw, Poland on July 2, 1873. He met and married his wife Eva in Poland and they had their first two daughters there. Joe emigrated to the U.S. around 1906, coming alone ahead of his family to Kansas City, Missouri, joining two brothers already here. He worked as a tailor there. He sent for Eva and she joined him a couple of years later in K.C. Three more children were born there, but for health reasons for Eva, the family moved to Dallas in 1917, and their last child was born here in 1918. Joe was employed by Sanger Bros. as a tailor, where his brother was head of the department. He was a member of Congregation Shearith Israel. Because he worked hard and long hours he had little time for extra-curricular activities, however, the Dallas Hebrew Free Loan was the only organization that he found time to support, and he participated in it as often as he could. Unfortunately, ill health caught up with him and Joseph Kirschner passed away on November 3, 1938. He would be quite proud of how far we have come since the beginning.

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Elly LererELLY LERER

Elly Lerer was born in Poland, near Minsk in 1883. He married Fannie in Poland and they had a son, Joe in 1908. When Joe was 2 years old, Elly brought the family to Dallas where he started a scrap metal business, Liberty Iron & Metal. He also invested in land and other ventures. Daughter, Bessie was born in 1914. Elly Lerer loved checkers and chess. He had a magnetic personality and was a very generous individual, providing help to causes when called upon. Because of an agressive form of diabetes, Elly went blind. He sold his business soon thereafter in the late 40’s, and moved to California, where his daughter lived. Elly Lerer passed away in California in June, 1949.

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Mike LevineMIKE LEVINE

Mike Levine was born in 1883 in Odessa, Russia. He married Sonya Gurevich in Russia, but he alone came to the U.S. in 1904. He had to save $5.00 first before he was able to bring his wife over. He lived in New York City until 1914 when he came moved the family to Dallas. Mike and Sonya had 5 daughters and 1 son, which now is quite a large tree of descendants. He started United Waste Materials Company and success in business followed. Mike was one of the founders of Agudas Achim Congregation and a past president of Golden Acres. He is considered one of the main reasons that the Dallas Hebrew Free Loan Association was formed and was its first president. Mike was an extremely charitable person. It is said that he would go downtown and walk down the street and if he came across anyone that was hungry, he would take them to lunch and give them money. He told his family: “When I was a boy in Russia, many times I would go hungry; I made a vow then that if I ever had the ability, that no-one I came across would go hungry.” “He would have given away everything he had if his wife, Sonya, had let him.” Although he was charitable to many causes, Hebrew Free Loan was his main interest. Mike Levine died in May, 1952, at the age of 69.

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Lewis OkonLOUIS OKON

Louis Okon was born in 1894 in Bialystok, Poland. At the age of 13 he came to the U.S. via Galveston. He was sponsored by a great aunt, Rebecca Goldstein, of Fort Worth. The package plan took him to Memphis, Tennessee although he wanted to go to Fort Worth, so he worked on the railroad to save money to get there. At some point he moved to Brownsville and opened a scrap yard that was very successful. In 1915 he married Rebecca Zimmerman of Dallas and she moved to Brownsville as a bride. He traveled to Poland and tried to bring his parents to the U.S. but they declined, but he was able to bring a sister to safety. When he returned the market had collapsed as well as his business. He was broke. His sons Ben and Simon were born in Brownsville, then he moved the family to Dallas where his daughter Ruth was born. However, he had business dealings in Mexico and commuted between there and Dallas until 1934. He then opened a scrap business, Okon Iron & Metal at the corner of Canton and Good-Latimer. Louis belonged to and was extremely active in Congregation Agudas Achim. He was very religious and his home was always open to all Jewish was active in the DHFLA and was very proud that it was successful and that it was able to help those in need. Louis passed away on September 18, 1973 at the age of 79.

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DANIEL RABINOWITZ

Daniel Rabinowitz was born in Vilna, Lithuania in 1869 and came to the U.S. in 1892 and settled first in New York. He moved to Dallas shortly after the turn of the century. One early business was a shop on Deep Elm and he would go up and down the street buying scrap gold and then he would refine it and then sell the refined gold to the government. He also was an oil investor and started buying rental properties. He ecame one of the early developers of parts of East Dallas. Daniel married the former Annie Michaelson and together they had two sons, Myer and Benjamin. He was a member of Congregation Shearith Israel, the Hebrew Protective Association and was an early Hebrew Free Loan officer. He was a low key individual whose reputation was that of a good and honorable man. Daniel passed away in September, 1941 at the age of 70.

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Wolf ReisbergWOLF REISBERG

Wolf Reisberg was born in May, 1881 in Kovlovka, Poland. His wife to be, Mina, became his stepsister when his father married her mother, and they lived in the same household. Eventually they married, in 1904. All their children, 5 daughters, were born in Poland before they came to the United States in 1922. They were brought over by his brother, Myer, and they entered the country through Ellis Island and then on to Dallas. After a few entrepreneurial efforts, he opened a grocery store with his brother. It was called Reisberg’s Grocery and was located on Forest Avenue, a short distance from Congregation Agudas Achim, to which he belonged. A man of deep religious commitment, if a minyan was needed, he would close the store and go to help make a minyan. A man of concern for his fellow man, he would take IOU’s from people who needed food and the IOU’s went into a cigar box, but he never pressed for redemption. Wolf Reisberg never aspired to accumulate great wealth, but when he passed away the family found the box full of IOU’s representing value that could have made him a wealthy man. He worried most about those who needed help. It was in his grocery store in early 1935 that he and a handful of others met and gave birth to the idea of forming a Hebrew free loan in Dallas. A short time later, the organization was born. Wolf Reisberg retired in 1962 and passed away in 1972 at the age of 92.

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Reuben RobinsonREUBEN ROBINSON

Reuben Robinson was born in Poland in 1867. He married his wife Fannie in Europe at an early age for both of them, and they came to the United States in 1887 with their first child, Louis. They lived in New York for a short while, then moved to Dallas, where they had six more children. Reuben’s business was as peddler of clothing, carpets, rags and other products, who often sold on credit. He was a very religious man, who in 1890, was one of the eleven men who joined together to make up the original founders of Congregation Tiferet Israel. Reuben Robinson passed away in March, 1952 at the age of 85.

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Simon Selinger SIMON SELINGER

Simon Selinger, born in 1886, was an immigrant from Austria at the age of 5, coming with his older brother. He sold newspapers on the streets of New York, once owned a small restaurant, and then a Manhattan newsstand which he operated for 19 years. During his life in New York, he became active in politics in the Democratic Party and was a member of the Tammany Hall machine. He married his wife Fannie when he was 17 and she was 15 and they had three of their four children in New York. They moved to Tulsa via Fort Smith, Arkansas, had their fourth child, but sadly Fannie died of cancer in 1925 at the age of 39. In 1926 Simon married Dora Abrahms and he adopted her son. He got into the insurance business and was quite successful, but the stock market crash wiped him out. He moved part of his family to Dallas in the early 1930’s and continued in the insurance business. During his few years in Dallas he became associated with some of the other founders and became interested and helped in the formation of the Dallas Hebrew Free Loan Association. Some time in 1937, he pulled up stakes again, and move the family to Corpus Christi, where he founded Texas Printing Company, a printing and office supply company, and resumed his interest and became active in local politics there. Simon Selinger died in Corpus Christi in 1952 at the age of 66.

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AARON T. STILLMAN

Aaron Thomas Stillman was born in Zhitomir, Russia in 1900. In 1907 he came to Dallas with part of his family and attended grade school near Fair Park, but did not attend high school. He went to work for Higgenbotham, Bailey, Logan Company where his brother also worked. He met his wife, Sona Greenberg of St. Louis, and they married in 1926. His only child, Albert, was born in 1928. Aaron opened a grocery store near Fair Park on Parry Avenue. He extended credit to his customers, but poor collections eventually caused him to go out of business. He worked in a grocery store, then in the retail liquor business for the remainder of his career. Aaron was orthodox and belonged to Agudas Achim Congregation. He volunteered widely in the religious community, kept books, ushered and also sat with the dead. His life was dedicated to his religious beliefs. He also loved baseball. Aaron T. Stillman also was the first secretary of the Dallas Hebrew Free Loan Association and his signature is on many of the first documents. He died in August, 1968.

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Jacob Winer JACOB WINER

A native of Poland, Jacob Winer came to Dallas shortly after his arrival in the U.S. around 1895. He was a tinsmith most of his working career but for the last dozen years of his life he owned and operated the Winer Shoppe, a retail ladies’ clothing store on Elm Street. He married Jennie Miller of Fort Worth in May, 1913. Jacob was a past president of Congregation Agudas Achim and was honorary president for life. He was well known for his charities and philanthropic deeds. Jacob Winer died on January 10, 1946, survived by his wife and six daughters.

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