Rebecca A. Utay
DJW Staff Writer
Did you know that Hollywood producer Aaron Spelling was born, grew up and got his start right here in Dallas? Or that Henry S. Miller Sr. lived in Dallas in the 1930s?
These are just a couple of the historical people and facts from Rose Biderman's new book, "They Came to Stay: The Story of the Jews of Dallas 1870-1997."
In this book you can read about how long-time youth groups, like Young Judea and B'nai B'rith, evolved. You can also find pictures and accounts of historic buildings; early locations of synagogues such as Temple Emanu-El, Congregation Shearith Israel and Congregation Tiferet Israel; and the history of other area religious and social institutions.
Biderman got the idea to write the book after organizing the material into specific lessons for a class with the Jewish Community Center's "Joys of Jewish Learning" Series several years ago, she said. "That gave me the idea for writing a book based on the thinking and grouping of material to give a sense of flow of history. I also decided," she added, "to use material from the oral histories, which I felt would give not only color, but also authenticity."
A native of Dallas herself, with a B.A. in history with honors from UT Dallas, she finds Dallas Jewish history is a subject near and dear to her heart. She has worked as an archivist, curator, and administrator to the Dallas Jewish Historical Society for 13 years.
Mother of three and grandmother of six, she became interested in Dallas' Jewish history in 1979 after volunteering part-time at the JCC in the Archives Room.
There were four or five donated file cabinets and various boxes of miscellaneous papers and photos. With her special interest in those materials, she said, "to try and create some order, I volunteered one day a week for a few hours."
In 1983, with the help of a grant, Biderman was officially hired to catalogue all of the historical data and materials.
The more she did, the more interested she became. "The work became fascinating. It was like a detective search for all of the missing 'clues' to Dallas Jewish history - I was hooked!"
Biderman wants the community to know that her work on the book is really "a comprehensive study [in] that I have tried to show how not only individuals, but the Dallas Jewish community as a whole, acted," she said. "Everyone mentioned by name is for a particular reason or contribution or is representative of a business or a way of life."
What surprises her most about "They Came to Stay," she said, "is that every individual expects to find his or her name in the book."
Biderman's book is selling quite well so far. She smiled and said, "It's very gratifying."
Rose Biderman's book may be purchased at Barnes & Noble, Borders, JCC Gift Shop, Temple Emanu-El Gift Shop and Dreidels. Your synagogue gift shop may also carry "They Came to Stay."
This story was published in the DallasJewishWeek
on: Thursday, August 1, 2002