Report From Houston

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9 Responses

  1. Bob Miller says:

    We lived in Houston during 1998-2000 and were members of Rabbi Wender’s Young Israel of Houston. This was a good time for us; we were overwhelmed by the pervasive friendliness and hospitality and by the positive attitude toward Torah learning and outreach. The Wenders and other shul members contributed greatly toward this.

    Anyway, about the geography: The Young Israel is in the Fondren Southwest area. That area and the immediately adjacent neighborhoods had some degree of flooding on some blocks but not nearly as widespread and catastrophic as in some other areas where Jews are concentrated, such as Meyerland (see ) and Willow Meadows (see ).

    These latter areas suffered from their proximity to Brays Bayou, essentially a large drainage ditch, which overflowed even more than in other recent flood events. The land in Houston and for many miles in all directions is totally low and flat, with the only higher elevations being buildings, bridges and some highways.

    More on the current situation in Jewish communities:

    More on Brays Bayou:

    More on the general flooding problem (published in 2016):

  2. Steve Brizel says:

    Both the OU and Agudah have on line means of pledging assistance. Seasons, a major supermarket chaini with branches in many major Torah observant communities is accepting donations of food based on its list. YWN profiled a Hatzalah crew from my neighborhood in Houston-You won’t comprehend the level and degree of destruction until you see the pictures. Houston is no red state backwater-it is the fourth largest city in the US and home to major medical and high tech research entities, as well as a major locale for oil refinery as well.

  3. Steve Brizel says: Mycroft-you mentioned that we are more “insular”. One does not work in water up to his neck to rescue people or search for R”L for fatalities in one’s spare time if he is insular.

  4. Mycroft says:

    Insular being concerned with and open to those not of our machene, entirely different question than being present at disasters . Hatzalah was present at WTC during 911. My insular comment refers to the general way we are open to those not like us. Are our schuls places where someone not part of club would even feel welcome. Note change in appearance from Lita Yeshvas pre WW 11 one can see clean shaven. Look at SIL who were Talmeidim at RIETS of the two leading RY at my time clean,y shaven. At shiur in Israel used to see a son and grandson of RIETS RY cleanly shaven. If one wants to market oneself to the world be does not differentiate oneself more than Halacha demands.. One must follow all Halacha but makes davening and schul as much as possible accessible. One of my favorites many times lessor have tfila one is allowed to state something, instead recently people bang. What is a bang on table supposed to mean.? To a person part of the inside it means something.
    Of course, major change is shiurim in schuls, decades ago there were much more shiurim based on material that is at leas follow able by those who are not baki besefer, today not so.
    Of course,not even offering Talmud Torahs as an option eliminates the non top 20 per cent of income and the bottom 50 percent of verbal ability are not welcome in day schools.
    The paradox is that there are few if any people who have spent a lifetime interested in outreach. If we had a community of Steves we would be better off. I have my differences in hashkafa and certainly proper policy, but would take the total Steve anytime.

    • Steve Brizel says:

      Guess which RIETS RY spend their summer vacations learning with high school kids who by and large are not the most motivated students in their class? That is what the Baalei chasidus call Tzimtzum.

    • Steve Brizel says:

      The CI once commented that his primary critique with RZ was the elevation of the bdieved into a lchatchila. The Rambam in Hilcos Deos and the Ran in Nedarim 20b stated that Talmidei Chachamim are supposed to be people who are different or to use the word used in the Haggadah every way possible .they are told models not salesmen to justify our departures from normative galactic standards

  5. Steve Brizel says:

    I think that your view of should and communities as insular is correct an unfortunately knows no hashkafic boundaries. When a ship is composed of families where everyone went to the same yeshivos and girls schools and summer camps and/or the same yeshivos in Israel it is very tough for someone who is a BT or a ger tzedek to break in unless they develope their own comfort level via a shul rav chavrusos shiurim and friends . There are such communities . That has nothing to do with whether a RY is clean shaven or not or the educational level of most shuls which experience are textual but hardly on a level that the average graduate of any MO or Charesi yeshiva would find difficult. The trademark of all such any RIETS trained speaker remains a beginning middle and end followed by a summation of the essence of the shiur which I think was a trademark of any about by RYBS.

  6. Steve Brizel says:

    IT is a very unfortunate fact of life but if you are the only guy who does not wear a jacket and some sort of hat on top of a mipa and insists on wearing jeans for weekday davening you will feel uncomfortable as will a married woman who doesn’t cover her hair at all out of s hul in many major Torah observant communities.

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