Among the many collections to explore, the archives of the Dallas Jewish Historical Society (DJHS), located in the Aaron Family JCC, houses a collection from the Skibell-Goldstein family, chronicling the history of this large Jewish family from the late 1800s to early 1970s. The collection includes a large number of photographs (some from the 1870s) and documents (letters, government certificates, two wedding ketubahs – one from 1911 and another from 1941), as well as a number of artifacts, including a Russian Chumash, dating back to the 1800s.
The Goldstein family traces its roots in Dallas back to the late 1800s when the patriarch of the family, Jacob Goldstein, immigrated to the United States from Russia through the port of Castle Garden, NY in 1882. In 1910, one of Jacob’s five children, Isaac Goldstein, married into another prominent immigrant family, the Skibelski family, who changed their name to Skibell upon entry into the United States. Isaac and his wife, Ida, had five children – Jacob, Hilda, Sylvan, Mitchell, and Rhea Leah. All three of the sons served in the military during World War II.
A notable artifact in this collection – a World War II medical kit – belonged to Isaac Goldstein’s sister, Beckye Goldstein Levin. After the United States entered the war in 1941, the Red Cross quickly mobilized a volunteer and staff force to provide comfort and aid to members of the armed forces and their families, as well as to serve in hospitals suffering from severe shortages of medical staff. Millions of volunteers across the country, including Beckye, stepped up to the call of duty. On September 1, 1942, Beckye became a member of the Citizens Defense Corps and was certified as an instructor for several courses, including Fire Defense and Gas Defense. The medical kit contains its original contents.
The Skibell-Goldstein Family Collection documents and unfolds the story of how two immigrant families came together and successfully integrated into and contributed to American society. The collection was generously given to the DJHS by Elaine Druss Lerman, daughter of Hilda Goldstein Druss, and granddaughter of Isaac and Ida Skibell Goldstein. To learn more about the collection, please visit DJHS at the Aaron Family JCC.
The Dallas Jewish Historical Society works to collect and preserve the papers, photographs, artifacts, and recorded personal stories that illustrate the rich history of the Dallas Jewish community. Please visit us anytime at www.djhs.org to view our extensive online collection of oral histories from hundreds of people who have shaped the Jewish community of Dallas.
Submitted by Liz Liener, DJHS Board Member