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22http://www.beth-israel.org/blog/2010/11/Rabbi-Lyon%27s-Blog-11_12_2010
Rabbi Lyon's Blog-11_12_2010
11/12/2010 08:12 AM Posted by:

From the Desk of Rabbi David Lyon
November 12, 2010

            Heritage is an important part of our life as Americans. Yesterday, we observed Veterans Day. Beth Israel counts among its members, past and present, scores of men and women who served in the armed services during times of war and peace. In the Friedlander Levy Family Hallway there is a large plaque memorializing the names of service members who died in wars to defend our nation. Years ago, Art Simon, of blessed memory, took the responsibility to invite a Beth Israel rabbi every year to join him in the National Veterans Cemetery on Veterans Day for a special ceremony. And, currently, we have a member whose son is serving in Afghanistan. He stays in touch with me by Facebook from where he is stationed oversees. So, our heritage comes full circle. Those who served in the past inspire a new generation to participate fully and with honor.

            Likewise, heritage is an important part of our life as Jews. In 1844, Jews in Houston organized the first cemetery which bears the names of these early settlers in our West Dallas cemetery. In 1854, they organized Beth Israel. Rapid growth in Houston, especially following the hurricane of 1900 that swept through Galveston, Beth Israel welcomed many new members. Ever since, families have planted deep roots in the congregation. Many Beth Israel families can count five or more generations among us. Though many are gone or moved from Houston, there remain families whose tight-knit clans still cherish Jewish life at Beth Israel.

            Every year on Heritage Shabbat, we honor our past by recognizing the long way we have come in the presence of remarkable and long-standing families in Houston and Beth Israel. We begin by worshiping together, but not with the new prayerbook called Mishkan Tefilah; rather, we worship the way we used to do with the Union Prayer Book. It is the small book filled with “thee” and “thou” and mostly English. We will sing the classical Reform music we still hold dear, and we will honor a family whose presence among us has endured over many generations.

            It will be an honor to welcome to the bemah at the beginning of the service, the family of Meyer and Ida Gordon. The Gordon family, now in its 5th generation at Beth Israel has been members since the 1800s. They were obviously founding members of the congregation; and, their family has served in every capacity as leaders and sustainers of our beloved congregation.

            Meyer and Ida, founders of The Gordon Jewelry Corporation, had three children, Harry B. Gordon, Aron Gordon and Bertha Gordon Miller. Harry served as the president of Beth Israel, Aron served as board trustee and Bertha was active in Sisterhood. Current members of the Gordon and Miller spouses and children include: Aileen B. Gordon, Dede and Connie Weil, Susie and Arnie Miller, Jim and Nancy Gordon, Dan and Annette Gordon, and Frann Gordon Lichtenstein. There are nearly 30 grandchildren and great-grandchildren at Beth Israel, too. They have celebrated numerous life-cycle events on the bemah in the sanctuary, and the Gordon Chapel, named in honor of their family's legacy.

            In times of war and peace, we cherish our legacy of commitment to our nation's freedoms and liberties and to our Jewish way of life in America that has provided so many generations the privilege to celebrate our love of God and Torah. Tonight, in the sanctuary at 6:30pm, we will begin by honoring the Gordon, Miller and Weil families for the heritage that has come down to all of us as a sacred inheritance. Please join us and may we all see our families as a heritage of commitment, faith and service.

            From my family to yours, Shabbat Shalom.

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