Tracing its roots to 1913, Texas A&M Hillel is one of the oldest Jewish campus organizations in the United States.
The Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (TAMC) Menorah Club was organized in 1913 by Esther Taubenhaus and Dr. Jacob Taubenhaus, the first Jewish professor to be hired at TAMC. In the 1920s, the group was transformed into the TAMC Hillel Club under the guidance of Rabbi David Lefkowitz of Dallas. Dr. Taubenhaus was later the founder of the B’nai B’rith A&M Hillel Foundation while his wife Esther was considered Hillel’s “Mother Away From Home.” Hillel originally met in the YMCA building on campus.
In 1940, Dr. and Mrs. Raymond Reiser came to College Station. Dr. Reiser was a faculty member of a Texas A&M. Dr. Reiser’s wife, Mrs. Shirley Reiser, took over as director from Esther Taubenhaus. After construction of the first Hillel building in 1958, Shirley became the director of the Texas A&M Hillel. One of Shirley’s favorite social activities for students was the Friday night dinner; the cadets couldn’t pass up a home-cooked meal away from military discipline.
From 1979 to 1980, Carol Parzen and Amy Mann were co-directors of Hillel. Carol continued in the position until 1983, with the arrival of Rabbi Tarlow.
Rabbi Peter Tarlow came to Texas A&M Hillel in 1983 to serve as Rabbi and Executive Director. The 1980s also saw the local Reform synagogue, Congregation Beth Shalom, split from Hillel to find their own building in Byran.
In 2004, Sigma Alpha Mu (Sammy) was officially re-chartered at Texas A&M. From the beginning, Sammy has enjoyed a great relationship with Texas A&M Hillel and holds their meetings in the Hillel building. In 2006, Carlie Dorshaw founded Aggie Jewish Women, which became Zeta Beta Sigma and is now Alpha E, to provide sisterhood for the Jewish women of Aggieland. In 2015 the first local chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi was colonized at Texas A&M.
In 2010 the original 1958 Hillel building was demolished and a brand-new state-of-the-art 18,000 square foot facility was opened in the fall of 2012. The new building contains a beautiful sanctuary, a library, a 100-seat lecture hall and theater, separate meat and dairy kitchens, and a second-floor patio with a gorgeous view of the campus and Kyle Field.
In 2013, Rabbi Tarlow retired and Rabbi Matt Rosenberg was appointed as campus rabbi and executive director to take Hillel at Texas A&M into the future.