Seven years ago, the Temple of Beth Emeth in Sherman was vandalized and the Torah was taken.

Seven years ago, the Temple of Beth Emeth in Sherman was vandalized and the Torah was taken.


And although the temple located next to Bearcat stadium has been a part of the community for more than 66 years, it was around that time temple President Andy Faber says that he felt most a part of the Sherman community.


"We had to shut down for a little while, but the community was so supportive. They said, ‘We would like to come help’ and ‘You can use our facilities.’ We have a lot of friends and a nice community around us. They supported us and wanted us to stay in the community," Faber said.


Grayson County and North Texas has had a Jewish population dating back to the 1800s, and Judaism is a part of Sherman’s history Faber said.


"All of the small towns in the area have had Jewish families. A lot of them were in the merchant class and had stores, like general stores, in the area. If you go to the public library or to the courthouse, you will see that a lot of important people had Jewish names."


At that time, many of the families held worship in their homes until there became a need for a temple.


"Our current building was built and dedicated in 1949."


Faber said that there have been people in city councils and past mayors that have been a part of the temple, and there is currently a Denison Chamber of Commerce member that is an active member of the temple. Some members come from as far as Paris, Texas to worship at Temple Beth Emeth.


"Our members practice more than people that may be of other faiths. Our members may not want to go to church, but we need the numbers. We have a lot of active members because everybody helps make the church run properly."


Over the years, the temple has worked hard to be a good neighbor.


"In the past, we would adapt and accommodate to community events. Since our Sabbath begins on Friday night and the day ends on Saturday nights, we have often moved our services around community events in case members wanted to go to those as well. Out two main Jewish holy days, Jewish New Year and Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, are during the football season and in Texas, football is like a religion. We sometimes move our services to Austin College chapel. We like to be good neighbors."


Now, around the time of holy days like Yom Kippur and Passover, the temple sees a lot of visitors.


"In the ’60s, Egypt attacked Israel during Yom Kippur. It was a big event for that reason and a lot of people wanted to learn more about Judaism because of its importance."


During Passover, the temple gets a lot of attention as well.


"Passover is in the spring. That is a celebration of when Moses led the Jews out of Egypt. The Last Supper was the last day of the Passover celebration. Many Christians have come to our temple to learn about Passover so that they can get a better understanding of what Jesus was celebrating before Easter. We like it when people reach out to us to learn more."


On holidays, Faber said, Jews spend the day in prayer and then have a big dinner to celebrate afterward. Faber said many of the kosher requirements that other forms of Judaism follow do not apply to this temple because it is a reform temple.


"Judaism has many forms. There are Orthodox Jews and Hasidic Jews that interpret the laws differently."


There are about 600 Jewish laws, and while dietary restrictions are a big part, they also include instructions on working, the Sabbath, and other things in daily life.


"If you travel to Dallas, there are obvious signs that you are in a Jewish community. On Saturday mornings, you will see people walking to the temple because they are not allowed to do work like drive a car on the Sabbath. You may notice people leave their light in their house on from Friday to Saturday evening because they are not allowed to do work like turn on a light switch. They will make their meals early."


Kosher foods often have a U or K along the bottom of the package.


"There is one family in the Sherman/Denison area that keeps kosher in their home. Most of the Jewish people in this area, however, are reformed. This means that we have assimilated into society because it is very hard to keep kosher when you do not live in an area where most of the population is trying to keep kosher."


To Faber, this is one of the reasons why Reform Judaism is important.


Judaism and Christianity are very similar because they study from the same text and some of the beliefs are the same, Faber said.


"Jews believe in the Old Testament — the Torah, the five books of Moses, Genesis through Deuteronomy, we read. They are in Hebrew just like when Jesus was on the Earth."


He noted, however, that one of the main differences is that Jews do not believe that the messiah has already come.


"We are still waiting on him. We also have different views on how the world will look when the messiah comes."


Other than that, Faber said it is hard to recognize a Jewish person.


"Daily life is not that different. People look at me, talk to me, and have no idea that I am Jewish," the insurance agent said. "Unless you come to my house and see some memorabilia, there are not readily available signs."