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Chapter 4

Congregation Beth Israel
Redefining the boundaries. . .
Fourth Temple 1967- present


The great migration that began in the 1950’s as people moved from the center of the city to the fresh new developments in the suburbs continued. In Houston, that major growth moved toward the west and southwest parts of the city. Once again, Beth Israel’s leadership recognized the need for more room for their growing congregation. Money was raised and land purchased on North Braeswood close to where many of their congregants now lived, an area that was fast becoming the heart of Houston’s Jewish community. Our fourth and current Temple home opened its doors in June of 1967 here on North Braeswood. June of 1975 marked the arrival of Rabbi Samuel Egal Karff, the third senior rabbi of Beth Israel in the 20th Century.

Under Rabbi Karff’s intellectual and spiritual leadership, Beth Israel continued to earn widespread respect in religious and civic circles here and afar. Author, scholar, professor, and tireless advocate for civil rights, the homeless, hungry and more, Karff also inaugurated an annual Clergy Institute, the largest gathering of interfaith clergy in Houston. His pioneering vision inspired the creation of Beth Israel’s Shlenker School, one of the first Reform Jewish Day Schools in North America and the first in Texas.

Upon Rabbi Karff’s retirement in 1999, Rabbi David A. Whiman became his successor.

 

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