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Leon Perl

Leon Perl was born February 24, 1888, in Podjace in the Austro-Hungarian Empire to Wolf and Rivka Perl. He and his three siblings, Joseph, Belle, and Sam, arrived in Galveston with their mother in 1900 to join their father, who had immigrated earlier. He was raised in Galveston, where he graduated from Ball High School.

In 1918, during WWI, Leo joined the army. He fought with Company H, 55th Infantry in Lorraine, France. He was discharged at the end of the war.

Leon and his brother Sam moved in 1926 to Brownsville, where they purchased a men’s clothing store called The Fashion. They renamed it The Fashion Perl Brothers. This successful business attracted customers from both sides of the border during its fifty years of existence.

When the Perl brothers moved to Brownsville, the approximately two dozen Jewish families living here lacked organized religious life. Religious services were conducted in the Masonic Hall. Leon Perl’s brother, Sam, became the unifying force and main representative of the Jewish community. In 1931Sam and Leon Perl helped found Temple Beth-El. The first Temple building was built in West Brownsville in 1933 and Sam acted as lay rabbi until the 1970s.

Temple Beth-El, at the very least, was very unorthodox. Leon Perl’s wife, Corinne, would softly play “Clair de Lune” on the piano as a prelude   to the mourners’ Kaddish. Poker was played in the social hall after services and Sam would take part of each pot for the building fund. Leon and Corrine would go to the house of Sam and Stella Perl for Passover seders. The silver cup for the prophet Elijah on Sam Perl’s table was inscribed, Perfect Attendance, Kiwanis Club, 1938.

Leon Perl died on June 22, 1969, at the age of eighty-one and is buried next to his wife, Corinne, in the Hebrew Cemetery.