Lifelong Learning

Congregation Beth Israel’s Hyman Judah Schachtel Library houses one of the finest collections of books of Jewish interest in the Southwest United States. The Houston Friends of Rabbi Hyman Judah Schachtel founded the library in 1967, in honor of his outstanding service to our city. The contributors included such notables as the De Menil, Wortham, George R. Brown and Abercrombie families. The original gift has presently grown into well over 20,000 volumes including an extensive archive of materials dating back to the beginning of the Congregation in the mid 1800s.The Association of Jewish Libraries has accredited the Shachtel Library at the Advanced level–a designation few synagogue libraries have attained.

Primarily aimed at serving Beth Israel members and its schools, Beth Israel’s Schachtel Library welcomes everyone in the community and serves as a reference source for scholars nationwide.

Beth Israel’s Schachtel Library is divided into two sections:

  • The Hyman Judah Schachtel collection serves adults with books that are of specific Jewish interest or by Jewish authors for both scholarly and leisure time reading.
  • The Myrtle and Walter Loewenstern Children’s Library is designed for children and has both general interest books such as math, history, picture books, and more, as well as Jewish interests including holidays, crafts, music, folktales, and Bible stories

The Library’s regular hours have resumed:

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday: 9am to 4pm
Wednesday: 9am to 6pm
Sunday: 9:30am to 1pm


The Library Catalog is available online 24 hours a day!


Readers Group

The Beth Israel Readers Group invites congregants and friends to our monthly meetings on the 3rd Wednesday of the month at 1:30pm. Books are chosen from various subjects, and we welcome our Clergy and visiting facilitators. Skype interviews with authors are also offered periodically. We also participate in the annual ERJCC Community Read.

To be added to the list, please contact Temple Librarian Judy Weidman.


2019 Schedule for Readers Group:

  • November 20: The Flight Portfolio by Julie Orringer. Robyn Shkolnik will lead discussion.
  • December 18: The Train to Crystal City by Jan Jarboe Russell. Rabbi David Lyon to lead discussion.
  • January 15, 2020: Memento Park by Mark Sarvas. Mr. Sarvas will join us for a Skype interview to discuss his award-winning novel.
  • February 19: Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan. Henrietta Bell to lead discussion.
  • March (TBA):
  • April 22: Here All Along: Finding Meaning, Spirituality, and a Deeper Connection to Life — In Judaism (After Finally Choosing to Look There) by Sarah Hurwitz. Rabbi Adrienne Scott to lead discussion.

Watch the Bulletin, eNews and Friday Night Guides for future selections.

Check out pictures from some of our exciting past events!

On January 29, 2019 the Schachtel Library sponsored “Using DNA in Genealogical Research”, a lecture by Franklin Carter Smith, Senior Library Services Specialist at the Clayton Genealogical Center. Over 30 interested visitors engaged in a fascinating study of the DNA testing commercial companies, and help in interpreting your own DNA analyses.


Schachtel Library presents third program on Jewish Genealogy

On Sunday, November 10, 2019 the Schachtel Library and Beth Israel’s Lifelong Learning Center presented “Our Jewish Heritage and Health”, a discussion of Jewish- Ashkenazic related genetic diseases.

Dr. Gary Frohlich, Patient Education Liason for Sonofi Genzyme, presented an informative discussion of the diseases associated with this group of Jews, as well as information on the most common, now treatable disease, Goucher disease.



Ancestry.com digitizes 11 million Holocaust Records and offers free access:

The release includes passenger lists of millions of displaced people, including Holocaust survivors and former concentration camp inmates, who left Europe from 1946-1971. Families searching for information of relatives may uncover previously unknown information, and can access the site free from their own homes.

Search the database here

More information is available here


Digitized Archival Oral Histories now available !

In 1975 Gay Block and Linda May interviewed over 70 congregants in preparation for their film “A Tribute to Spirit: the Beth Israel Experience”. Thanks to a generous grant from the Texas Jewish Historical Society, the cassette tapes of these interviews and a number of subsequent interviews were professionally converted to digital format and are now available for our use on this website.

To hear the interview, simply click on the name of the subject below, which will open a file that can be downloaded to your computer. There may be two files to download for the full interview. Enjoy hearing the voices from Beth Israel’s history!

Arsht, Marjorie Lapin, David
Astricht, Sis Lapin, Susan
Battlestein, Harry Lasher, Doris Nathan
Battlestein, Trudy Le Burkien, Michael
Battlestein, Virginia 1 Levy, Edna
Battlestein, Virginia 2 Levy, Tillie Jacobs
Bender, Jack Lewis, Kenneth
Bender, Sophia Lewis, Lou I
Bowman, Henrietta Lewis, Lou II
Brandon, Elizabeth Lippman, Vivian
Brochstein, I.S. Lowenstein, Suzanne
Brown, Nina Malev, Belle I
Burke, Irving Malev, Belle II
Burke, Julia Kormorn McDonald, Judge Gabrielle
Coleman, Mildred Meyer, Jerry
Dannenbaum, Maurice I Meyer, Leopold
Dannenbaum, Maurice II Miller, Bertha (1975)
Dannenbaum, Seline I Miller, Bertha I (1993)
Dannenbaum, Seline II Miller, Bertha II (1993)
Epstein, Bernard Nathan, Charles (1975)
Epstein, Fran Nathan, Charles (1992)
Feld, Benji Nathan, Harriet
Feld, Effie Nimitz, Joyce
Finger, Gertrude Levy Perwien, Edmond
France, Eve Premazon, Judy
France, Kim Premazon, Michael
Friedlander, Alfred Radinsky, Rabbi Joseph
Friedman, Annie Nathan Cohen Rayzor, Eugenia
Friedman, Lloyd Rubin, Gelta
Glosserman, Brad Schachtel, Barbara
Gold, Leonard Schachtel, Dr. Hyman Judah
Goldberg, Chaim I Schatz, Rabbi Steven
Goldberg, Chaim II Schechter, Joyce
Gordon, Harvey Scheps, Ricky
Gordon, Sondra Schwartz, Mose
Grossberg, Mark Schoenmann, Annie
Grossberg, Peppy Schwarz, Balbine
Gruner, Ceil Schwartz, Hilda
Hecht, Bob Schwarz, Hulda
Hecht, Pauline Meyer I Segal, Rabbi Jack
Hecht, Pauline Meyer II Sheinberg, A.
Hecht, Punkin Deutcher Sher, Horty
Hecht, Shirley Sher, Malcolm
Herman, Carl Shlenker, Bertha Alyce
Herman, Gloria Sisterhood Presidents I
Herzog, Chaim Sisterhood Presidents II
Hofeller, Lorraine Stone, Fannie
Kahn, Mike Stone, John K.
Kaplan, Sam Sunshine, Sarna
Kaufman, Albert Torah Convocation I
Keller, Theo I Torah Convocation II
Keller, Theo II Warren, Naomi
Knapp, Rev Arthur Weil, Dede
Kosberg, Livingston Westheimer, I. Mark
Kosberg, Saranne Westheimer, I.B.
Landa, Adeline Wolff, Curtis
Landa, Johnny Yoskowitz, Rabbi Herbert
Landa, L.M. Zollars, Betty

Karff Interview from 2007

In 2007 the Houston Metropolitan Research Center conducted a series of interviews of notable Houston leaders, and Rabbi Karff was one of the subjects. They have shared the interview with us, and it is now posted below. It is available in a variety of formats, to suit different computer systems.

Click here for the interview with Rabbi Samuel Karff.


The Beth Israel Archives

Documents from the Earliest Years of Congregation Beth Israel

The Beth Israel Archives document the activities of the congregation from its earliest days, with records of meetings, pictures and documents chronicling the life of an active Temple. The archives are available for use with the assistance of the librarian. Please contact the librarian by phone at (713) 771-6221 x370, or email for more information.

Access online archival materials 24 hours a day!
Click here to view!


Speeches from past Yom Kippur Symposia are available to read online!
Click here to read!


Contact the Temple Librarian:

Judy Weidman 
(713) 820-6410, Direct Line
(713) 771-6221 ext. 370

Remember the Library Catalog is available 24 hours a day. Go to www.beth-israel.org and click on the Library home page to access. Requests for reserves can be sent to Judy at jweidman@beth-israel.org, or direct phone at 713 820 6410.

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The Readers Group

Scroll through the images below to view photos from some of our fun, exciting events! Author Claudia Kolker meets the Readers Group on

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Archival Materials

Congregation Beth Israel Archival Materials “Bris Book” and documents concerning the “Basic Principles” history of Beth Israel: Now viewable online are images of documents

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Treasures from the archives

Treasures from the Archives: A recently uncovered letter, circa 1972, thought to be Shirley Macow, who was Rabbi Schachtel’s secretary at the time.

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Book Reviews

Check back here to read our latest reviews! The Association of Jewish Libraries Announces 2019 Winners of Jewish Fiction Award Mark Sarvas is the

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Yom Kippur Symposia

YOM KIPPUR SYMPOSIA SPEAKERS The links below will take you to the words of our Yom Kippur Symposia speakers. 2018 / 5779 Click