Frequently Asked Questions

Worship

  1. When are services?
  2. Do you have Torah Study or Bible Study?

Membership

  1. How can I become a member?
  2. How much are dues?
  3. What is Fair share?
  4. Why do we have a Security Fee?
  5. Is it possible to receive financial assistance if I find I can’t afford my dues or Religious School tuition?

Programs

  1. Is there a place for young adults at Congregation Beth Israel?
  2. I am the parent of young children, are there worship opportunities for us as a family?
  3. What do you offer active Seniors?
  4. How can you volunteer?
  5. Is there a place for young adults at Congregation Beth Israel?

Interfaith

  1. Do you accept Interfaith couples or families?
  2. Do you have a Conversion Class?
  3. Do you perform Interfaith weddings?
  4. When is Basic Judaism offered and how can I register?

Bar/Bat Mitzvah

  1. How long before my Bar/Bat Mitzvah will I be receiving my materials and begin my Bar/Bat Mitzvah training?
  2. What exactly is an Aliyah and how many Aliyot do we have at Congregation Beth Israel?
  3. Can a non-Jewish parent or grandparent participate in the Torah Transmission at Congregation Beth Israel?

Religious School

  1. Can I register online?
  2. Is there a written curriculum I can read?
  3. What days are religious school held?
  4. Is there a parents handbook or calendar online?

Facilities

  1. How many people can the Temple accommodate at a wedding or Bar/Bat Mitzvah at the Temple?
  2. Can we have birthday parties or special anniversaries at the Temple?
  3. Can a non-member use the facilities?
  4. If I have a small wedding, where else can I have it besides the Sanctuary?
  5. Which caterers are used most by members for their events?



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Worship

1. When are services?

A.

6:30 p.m. Friday in the Chapel and Sanctuary,
8:30 a.m. Saturday morning Minyans
9:45 a.m. Torah Study
11:00 a.m. Saturday Shabbat morning services

On Friday evenings during the Summer there is a Shabbat Summer Service in the Chapel at 6:30 p.m. There is no 11:00 a.m. Shabbat Morning Service on Saturdays during the Summer.

We also offer special family services each month including: Shabbat Family, Tot Shabbat and Shabbat Play Date . Check our Worship Schedule for the latest schedule.

 

2. Do you have Torah Study or Bible Study?

A.

Torah Study is held every Shabbat Saturday morning at 9:45 a.m. Our Sisterhood sponsors a series of Bible Study classes, taught by our clergy, throughout the year.

 

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Membership

1. How can I become a member?

A.

You can drop by Beth Israel to pick up a new member packet, let us give you a tour or even sign up for a class. Or, you can download a New Member Application here. Find out more information on the benefits of a Beth Israel membership by clicking on Join Us or check out any of our many Programs (link), our beautiful facilities Facilities and any other areas of interest you find on our website.

2. How much are dues?

A.

Our Fair Share Commitment dues plan is based on self-assessment. As a guideline, we suggest that Congregants consider giving 2% of their annual household income as yearly Fair Share Dues. For more information, click on Fair Share.

3. What is Fair Share?

A.

Every congregation depends on the support of its members. Beth Israel’s Fair Share dues program is based on each family’s ability to contribute, regardless of their level of income. A Fair Share dues system is flexible, allowing members to pay according to their ability and it allows Beth Israel to accept many members who otherwise would be unable to afford membership in a fixed dues system where all members pay the same level, regardless of their financial situation. Click here for more Fair Share FAQ’s.

 

4. Why do we have a Security Fee?

A.

The safety of our members, students, and staff is of the highest priority and a serious commitment made by the leadership of our congregation. In 2005, a joint task force of Houston area law enforcement and Jewish institutions surveyed security needs here and across the city. In addition to a report by an independent security analyst, the experts all recommended improved security measures. Funded by grants and your security fees, we have been able to make numerous security improvements including perimeter fencing, updated surveillance equipment, additional hours of onsite uniformed police, and staff training to ensure the safety of those who work, learn, and pray in our beautiful facilities.

 

5. Is it possible to receive financial assistance if I find I can’t afford my dues or Religious School tuition?

A.

Yes. We understand that financial circumstances can change. The Board of Directors requires anyone needing a dues adjustment to complete our Fair Share Appeals form which is evaluated by our Fair Share Committee. All information and discussions are held in complete confidence. For assistance on Religious School tuition, please contact the Religious School office at (713) 271-7369.

 

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Programs

1. Is there a place for young adults at Congregation Beth Israel?

A.

Yes, there is! We have an active ATID group that meets regularly and is available for any young adult in their 20s and 30s. Our events include social, educational, community service and religious programming. If you are interested in joining our group or helping to plan events, please contact Heidi Miller at hmiller@beth-israel.org.

 

2. I am the parent of young children, are there worship opportunities for us as a family?

A.

Yes, Congregation Beth Israel has a few options that are offered monthly.
Family Service:
On the first Friday night of the month, in our Chapel, we offer a Family Service. This is an upbeat, contemporary and child-centered service that includes traditional Shabbat prayers as well as an age appropriate story. There are opportunities for children to participate by carrying their own "Torah" through the congregation.
Tot Shabbat:
Generally on the third Friday of the month, we offer Tot Shabbat, which is a slightly shorter version of our family service that is more informal. It includes traditional prayers, a brief service as well as a short story from one of our rabbis. It begins at 6:30 p.m. with a dinner and then continues at 7:00 p.m. with a service.
Shabbat Shindig:
Throughout the year, we also offer a Shabbat Shindig on Saturday mornings. This is an opportunity to come to observe Shabbat with bagels, songs, and a time to play. For more information, please check our Worship Calendar. For additional questions, please contact Carol Danek at

 

3. What do you offer active Seniors?

A.

Our Leisure Club, for active seniors at least 60 and over, plans monthly get togethers with lunch and entertainment and great excursions to do things like gamble in Lake Charles, yacht around Lake Conroe, explore the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. In addition, we offer a variety of Adult Education and Volunteer opportunities. For more information on all of these, please check out our website: Learning Programs and Committees.


4. How can you volunteer?

A.

Beth Israel has a diverse array of interesting activities and active committees that you can find many wonderful ways to give of your time and talents and volunteer. This includes opportunities from helping out in the Religious School, to working in the Sisterhood Gift Shop, getting involved in any of our important Social Justice projects, Mitzvah Day or any of our 25+ active committees. Check out our website for any areas that may interest you:

 

Join Us
Religious School
Programs
Ways to Give
Committees

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Interfaith

 

1. Do you accept Interfaith couples or families?

A.

Yes, absolutely. Beth Israel reaches out to welcome all those interested in affiliating with a Reform Jewish congregation. More than 40% of our members are interfaith families and we welcome your membership and involvement. Whether you are considering conversion, are married or raising a family, we invite you to join us for any of our many interfaith programs and let us help you explore the many paths and rewards of Jewish life. Inquiries about Interfaith weddings are also welcome.

 

2. Do you have a Conversion Class?

A.

Yes, we have our Basic Judaism class, a 13-week introduction of Judaism offered each spring and fall for anyone interested in learning more about the Jewish faith or who are interested in conversion. Sessions are led by Senior Rabbi David Lyon, Associate Rabbi Adrienne Scott and Cantor Star Trompeter. For more information, click on Basic Judaism.

 

3. Do you perform interfaith weddings?

A.

Yes, in certain cases. We welcome all inquiries about interfaith weddings and appreciate the unique challenges interfaith couples face. We offer support, counseling, classes in Basic Judaism along with a number of other interfaith opportunities for couples and families. Please contact our Senior Rabbi David Lyon at (281) 220-8640 or dlyon@beth-israel.org. For more information on our interfaith opportunities, please click on Interfaith.


4. When is Basic Judaism offered and how can I register?

A.

Basic Judaism is offered each fall and spring. It is a 13-week course that includes workshops, Shabbat and holiday observances, guest speakers and mentors for interested participants. It is typically held on Tuesday evenings from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Congregation. There is an $54.00 registration fee to enroll in the course. Since this course is repeated twice during the year, it is permissible to join after the first class has begun. If you are interested in registering, please contact Sara Kaiser.

 

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Bar/Bat Mitzvah

 

1. How long before my Bar/Bat Mitzvah will I be receiving my materials and begin my Bar/Bat Mitzvah training?

A.

Six months before the date of a Bar or Bat Mitzvah ceremony, you will receive a call from Rabbi Lyon’s assistant to set an appointment for the family to come in and meet with him. The rabbi’s meeting is followed by an appointment with the cantor. During these meetings you will be given your Bar/Bat Mitzvah materials, including: an individualized booklet with the prayers, a copy of your Torah and Haftarah portions, commentaries on your Torah portion, as well as assorted other materials. You will also receive a CD to assist you on your Bar Mitzvah journey. During the meeting with the cantor you will have an opportunity to demonstrate your Hebrew proficiency and the cantor will assign a tutor to assist you in your studies.

 

2. What exactly is an Aliyah and how many Aliyot do we have at Congregation Beth Israel?

A.

The word Aliyah means going up or ascent. It was originally used when Jews made pilgrimage to Jerusalem which is located on a mountain. Hence one would have to ascend the mountain to either offer sacrifices at the Temple or pray in one of the many synagogues within the city. Today we use the term to denote the honor of being called to the reading of the Torah. We presently offer two Aliyot. The first is reserved as an honor for invited guest(s) to recite the first Torah blessing and after the Torah reading is completed, to sing the second concluding blessing. The second Aliyah is reserved for the Bar or Bat Mitzvah. They recite the first blessing, chant the remainder of the weekly Torah portion, and conclude by singing the second blessing.

 

3. Can a non-Jewish parent or grandparent participate in the Torah Transmission at Congregation Beth Israel?

A.

Yes, the non-Jewish parent and grandparent(s) may participate if they feel comfortable doing so. This ceremony is not designed to confer Judaism upon anyone, rather to demonstrate the importance of passing our sacred teachings on from one generation to the next. We recognize the importance of publicly acknowledging our appreciation for the support, encouragement and love of the entire family, not only the Jewish members. For, without the support of the entire family, the Bar or Bat Mitzvah might never have taken place.

 

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Religious School


1. Can I register online?

A.

Yes, you can choose to register online, or by mail. Click here for a Registration Form.

 

2. Is there a written curriculum I can read?

A.

Yes, the current curriculum is also online for both students and parents and will be updated for each new Religious School session. Click here for Curriculum information. 

 

3. What days are religious school held?

A.

Sunday mornings for all students, PreK through11th grades:
  • PreK-6th - 9:00-11:15 a.m.
  • 7th-11th Graders 11:30-1:00 p.m.

Hebrew classes - for Grades 4th-6th–and 7th graders who have not yet begun their Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparation

  • Wednesdays - 4:30 — 6:00 p.m. at Beth Israel
  • Thursdays - 4:30 — 6:00 p.m. at our Memorial satellite

 

4. Is there a Parents’ Handbook or calendar online?

A.

There is a Parents’ Handbook and a school calendar online. Click here for the Religious School handbook.

 

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Facilities

 

1. How many people can the Temple accommodate at a wedding or Bar/Bat Mitzvah at the Temple?

A.

The Sanctuary -1000 people
The Chapel — 300 people with additional folding chairs

 

Whether your guest list is large or small, we also have a wide array of wonderful rooms to choose from for any of your life cycle events:

  • Social Hall with its view of the beautiful Wolff-Toomim Meditation Garden can accommodate 100-550
  • Ladin Dining Room- 60-70 for your special intimate dinners
  • Wolff-Toomim Meditation Garden — 100-125, perfect for small weddings or a cocktail reception
  • All-Purpose Room - 200-210 guests
  • Assembly Hall - 300-500 depending on your needs for seating or a dance floor
  • President’s Room — 50 for smaller more intimate dinners.

For more information on our Temple facilities for all your Life Cycle events, please click on Event Planning.

 

2. Can we have birthday parties or special anniversaries at the Temple?

A.

Birthday or wedding anniversary parties may be held here. The children’s parties are limited to the All Purpose Room or the Assembly Hall. Also, bris and baby namings are frequently held in part of the Social Hall near the windows.

 

3. Can a non-member use the facilities?

A.

The facilities of the Temple are available for use by members and their extended family. The active member is asked to sponsor the event, which means to be financially responsible and in attendance at the event.

 

4. If I have a small wedding, where else can I have it besides the Sanctuary?

A.

The Gordon Chapel with its beautiful stained glass windows can accommodate up to 300 guests, with added folding chairs. The Wolff-Toomim Meditation Garden is a lovely site for a small wedding with a chuppah in the middle grassy area, surrounded by your family and guests.

 

5. Which caterers are used most by members for their events?

A.

Beth Israel now has a Preferred Caterer Program. The caterers on our list have been used by many of our members, are familiar with our facilities and can provide specially priced basic menus for our members in addition to their full catering options. You are, of course, welcome to use any caterer you like. If they are not on our Preferred Caterer list, they will be required to make an appointment with our Special Events and Catering Manager, Marsha Gilbert,  to familiarize him/her with our facility and policies. Please consult our website for more information on Event Planning.

 

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