Printed from: Congregation Beth Israel

Print Page


11/23/2010 04:47 PM Posted by:

From the Desk of Rabbi David Lyon
November 26, 2010

                “I do recommend and assign Thursday the Twenty-Sixth Day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States, to the Service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all that good that was, that is, or that will be.”

       ---     George Washington,
first national Thanksgiving
Day Proclamation, November 26, 1789

                Since that day, Jews who made America their land and their home have participated in the duty to observe Thanksgiving. It is the great common denominator that unites our nation. Partisan politics aside, Thanksgiving is for all of us, no matter the color of our skin, the manner in which we pray or to whom, the gender or sexual orientation in which God created us, or the origins of our fathers and mothers, a day to give thanks to God and each other for the bounties we share.

                Many words of thanks will be shared around the table. Many more will be expressed in letters, cards and emails, texts and tweets this holiday season. Just as George Washington’s words help us recall that first Thanksgiving proclamation, so may we recall some original words of thanks from our sacred texts. These citations are from original sources and from an anthology of Jewish quotations (1956), which I saved from a heap of books. Take a look. You’ll recognize many of them. Share them if you wish.

“It is good to give thanks to God.” Psalm 92.2

“Be not like those who honor their gods in prosperity and curse them in adversity. In pleasure or pain, give thanks!” Akiba, Mekilta to Exodus 20.20

“Lord, I thank You for the goodness of growth, I thank you for the slice of bread and the prayerful mood.” Ben Amittai.

“Who directed the first prayer of thanksgiving to God? A woman, Leah, when she cried out in the fullness of joy, ‘Now again will I praise God!’”

“If a Jew breaks a leg, he thanks God he did not break both legs; if he breaks both, he thanks God he did not break his neck.” A Yiddish Proverb

“As long as the soul is within me, I will give thanks unto You, O Lord, my God and God of my fathers.” Talmud, Berachot 60b; Union Prayerbook Book

                From my family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving and Shabbat Shalom.

11/19/2010 09:57 AM Posted by:

From the Desk of Rabbi David Lyon
November 19, 2010

                I was in New York City this past week. Not for long and only for meetings. But, the weather was mild and I had some time between commitments to walk around, look in stores and eat some New York fare. Like many of you, I love being in Manhattan for a few days. Its energy and constant motion resonate with my tendency to work too hard.

                In the morning, I took a taxi to 4th and Broadway, to HUC-JIR, our Reform seminary. I bumped into a colleague who had just finished teaching his morning class. We took the subway together uptown and caught up on Jewish news and updates on each other’s families. He departed at Union Station with instructions for me to ride on for two more stops to 59th. Those were his instructions to me so that I wouldn’t get lost on my way to my destination. I made it for lunch with a past president of Beth Israel, where we talked about the congregation and caught up on family news.

                Before meetings later in the day, I found my way to Rockefeller Center. There it was, the big tree still surrounded by scaffolding before its debut for Christmas. I sat on the bench across the street and watched the people streaming by and the limos pulling up to 30 Rock. Down the street and around a corner, I saw a brightly colored art store. I went in and found the most intriguing pieces of modern art. It turned out that all of it was done by a few Israeli artists. There was even a fanciful menorah that I thought I might buy for the Temple. It wasn’t too expensive, but it wasn’t necessary. I’m good at talking myself out of purchases like that. The day ended with productive meetings and a few small purchases for the family. On my way back to the hotel, I passed a busy street vendor. Feeling quite New Yorkish, my dinner was an inexpensive gyro. Next time, I’d gladly pay more for something from a menu at a table.

                When I arrived at the airport at the end of the next day, I was delighted and surprised to find no line at security, at 4:00 p.m. at LaGuardia. I thought I won the lottery. But, it wasn’t to last. Only 30 minutes before the plane was due to board, the airport’s fire alarm sounded, lights flashed, and recorded announcements were made. And, wouldn’t you know it, the crowd full of New Yorkers and stubborn passengers didn’t budge. Nobody moved from their seats. What does it take to raise the alarm and move people to safety? Well, they knew more than I did. In a matter of moments, the alarm was silenced and everybody returned to their routines talking on cell phones, listening to iPods, and lining up early to be called to board.

                I arrived home on time. New York is one of the best places on earth, but there is truly no place like home in Houston. We’re entering the best time of year for us and the holidays mark its beginning. Next week, as Thanksgiving comes for all Americans, be sure to pause with your family and friends to say thank you to everybody with you at the table and those whose memories your cherish dearly; tell the stories that everybody loves to hear, and thank God for the goodness that still fills your hearts and your homes when you can be together. Please don’t forget our servicemen overseas who serve our country; pray for their safety and the end to war that keeps them far from home. Pfc. Jacob Reiner, son of Esther and Ray, is serving in Afghanistan and he’s in my prayers this Thanksgiving. Keep him in yours, too.

                From my family to yours, Shabbat Shalom and happy holidays next week.

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.

11/05/2010 10:40 AM Posted by:

From the Desk of Rabbi David Lyon
November 5, 2010

                Our Sages taught, “The more Torah, the more life.” This week, I want to draw your attention to the Union for Reform Judaism’s (URJ) “10-minutes of Torah”. It’s a link that delivers to your inbox a commentary and alternative commentary on the weekly Torah portion. The commentators are Jewish voices, rabbis, lay leaders, etc., who are invited to contribute their thoughts on the weekly portion.

                This week, Rabbi Aaron Panken, PhD, of Hebrew Union College, and I, your rabbi, were invited to comment. So, as Shabbat begins, I’d like to turn your attention for just 10-minutes to the URJ link. Read Rabbi Panken’s commentary, and then read my alternative comment. The first one is meant to be longer and the second one is meant to be what is called a “davar acher” or another word.

Click here to read the Commentary and Rabbi Lyon's Comment 

                If you enjoy the link, please subscribe to it and receive 10-minutes of Torah every week.

                From my family to yours, Shabbat Shalom.

Blog Search



April 2018 (3)
March 2018 (5)
February 2018 (4)
January 2018 (4)
December 2017 (4)
November 2017 (2)
October 2017 (2)
August 2017 (3)
July 2017 (4)
June 2017 (4)
May 2017 (2)
April 2017 (3)
March 2017 (4)
February 2017 (3)
January 2017 (3)
December 2016 (4)
November 2016 (3)
October 2016 (3)
September 2016 (4)
August 2016 (2)
July 2016 (5)
June 2016 (2)
May 2016 (3)
April 2016 (4)
March 2016 (3)
February 2016 (2)
January 2016 (4)
December 2015 (4)
November 2015 (3)
October 2015 (2)
September 2015 (2)
August 2015 (4)
July 2015 (5)
June 2015 (4)
May 2015 (2)
April 2015 (5)
March 2015 (3)
February 2015 (4)
January 2015 (4)
December 2014 (3)
November 2014 (3)
October 2014 (4)
September 2014 (2)
August 2014 (3)
July 2014 (3)
June 2014 (3)
May 2014 (3)
April 2014 (4)
March 2014 (3)
February 2014 (4)
January 2014 (5)
December 2013 (3)
November 2013 (3)
October 2013 (4)
September 2013 (2)
August 2013 (5)
July 2013 (4)
June 2013 (4)
May 2013 (5)
April 2013 (4)
March 2013 (4)
February 2013 (4)
January 2013 (5)
December 2012 (4)
November 2012 (5)
October 2012 (4)
September 2012 (2)
August 2012 (5)
July 2012 (4)
June 2012 (3)
May 2012 (5)
April 2012 (4)
March 2012 (5)
February 2012 (4)
January 2012 (4)
December 2011 (5)
November 2011 (3)
October 2011 (3)
September 2011 (4)
August 2011 (4)
July 2011 (3)
June 2011 (4)
May 2011 (4)
April 2011 (4)
March 2011 (5)
February 2011 (4)
January 2011 (4)
December 2010 (5)
November 2010 (4)
October 2010 (5)
September 2010 (2)
August 2010 (2)
June 2010 (3)
May 2010 (5)
April 2010 (3)

All Content Rights Reserved , Congregation Beth Israel
Captavi QixSuite™ - Hosted Marketing Automation Software ©