Founded in 1916, Texas A&M Hillel is the oldest organization in the United States called “Hillel.”
The Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (TAMC) Menorah Club was organized in 1916 by Esther Taubenhaus and Dr. Jacob Taubenhaus, the first Jewish professor to be hired at TAMC. In the fall of 1920, 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 “Our Mother Away From Home.”
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 creation of Aggieland’s Reform synagogue, Congregation Beth Shalom, founded by faculty members who were seeking a congregation of their own.
From the 1980s through the first decade of the twenty-first century, Hillel served as a home away from home for Jewish students. Hillel began as a group of Jewish cadets and transformed into a organization serving the entire Jewish campus community.
In 2004, the student board governance changed to a parliamentarian system, with 10-15 popularly elected members. These 10-15 board members then elect a prime minister from among themselves to oversee coordination of the board.
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, now Zeta Beta Sigma, to provide sisterhood for the Jewish women of Aggieland.
In 2010 the 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 95-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.