Shalom Austin Receives 2017 Preservation Austin Stewardship Award
By Jay Rubin
Preservation Austin, the Capital City’s leading nonprofit voice for historic preservation, presented Shalom Austin with its 2017 Stewardship Award at its annual luncheon celebration at the Driskill Hotel Nov. 3.
Presented in recognition of Shalom Austin’s role in the relocation and renovation of the B’nai Abraham Brenham Historic Synagogue, the award lauded the project as “the very definition of stewardship,” and “one of the best preservation projects from past two years.”
Leon and Mimi Toubin, Brenham civic leaders and longtime synagogue caretakers, and Jay Rubin, former Shalom Austin CEO, who spearheaded the project, accepted the award from Ken Johnson, president of the Preservation Austin board of directors.
Other community leaders at the award ceremony were Rabbi Daniel Millner of Congregation Tiferet Israel; CTI Immediate Past President Rick and Paz Goldberg, Arthur Altman, CTI president; Texas Jewish Historical Society President Davie Lou and Jack Solka; and Harriett Kirsh Pozen, Generations campaign director.
Goldberg and Jack Solka played major stewardship roles in the successful relocation and renovation of B’nai Abraham. Steven and Sarah Stein, Austin-based grandchildren of the Toubins, also attended the ceremony.
Located in downtown Brenham, Texas, and built in 1893 to serve Jewish immigrant families from Poland and Lithuania, B’nai Abraham served as Brenham’s sole Jewish house of worship in regular use through the early 1960s and is the oldest synagogue building in the Lone Star State.
Relocated three years ago to the Dell Jewish Community Campus, B’nai Abraham is today in constant use. Congregation Tiferet Israel, Austin’s sole and growing Modern Orthodox congregation, holds daily, Sabbath and holiday worship services as well as Bible and Jewish text study in the Leon and Mimi Toubin Sanctuary. Shalom Austin also conducts educational programs in the building and makes the space available to other community organizations and to individuals and families for Jewish lifecycle ceremonies.
Established in 1960, the juried Preservation Austin award program celebrates the hard work and visionary approaches of those contributing to Austin’s architectural, cultural and environmental heritage.
Other 2017 award recipients include Darnall House, Green Pastures, Megabus, Owings-Allen-Miller House, Texas State Capitol Exterior Preservation Project, Thorne House, Young House and Six Square: Austin’s Black Cultural District.
“We’re particularly pleased to honor such diverse projects that represent such a broad cross-section of our history,” Preservation Austin Executive Director Kate Singleton said. “These projects breathe new life into our historic places and make Austin a more interesting and authentic city for us all.”
In announcing the award, the Preservation Austin jury declared, “The love and commitment of Shalom Austin, along with Brenham’s Leon and Mimi Toubin, to preserving B’nai Abraham as a synagogue is phenomenal. Moving the building involved difficult decisions followed by years of hard work and fundraising, but with wonderful results.”
Jurors included Sally Fly, program director, Texas Society of Architects; Bess Graham, architect, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; Sarah Marshall, small business specialist and assistant state coordinator, Texas Main Street Program; John Riedie, CEO, Austin Creative Alliance; and Haley Wilcox, partner, Ogee Preservation.
Visit shalomaustin.org/brenham for a complete archive of articles and videos about B’nai Abraham. ■
For more information about Preservation Austin, visit preservationaustin.org.