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 2020 Hours:
Tuesday – Friday 9:00 am to 2:00 pm
Direct phone: 713 820 6410
Masks and Social Distancing Required
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
2020 Schedule for Readers Group:
- November 18: ERJCC Community Read
Concealed: Memoir of a Jewish-Iranian Daughter caught between Chador and America by Esther Armini. Robyn Shkonik will again join us to facilitiate.
- December 16: Ramblings of a Texan Rabbi by Jimmy Kessler, who will lead the discussion. Rabbi Kessler is well known to many in our congregation and he is a renowned storyteller. Free download is available on jimmykessler.com
- January 20: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. Barbara Horden will facilitate.
- External programming of interest to our congregants on Genealogy
- November 18- In this online class we explore the history of how your ancestors came to be citizens of the United States of America, the kinds of records they generated when they did so, what information those records contain, and where you can find them.
December 17- Experienced librarians demonstrate the steps involved in starting your family history research. Discover essential research methods and strategies, identify relevant records and how to locate them, and organize your family research information. This class is online. Registration is required.
Wayne Dorris leads the Readers Group discussion on October 21 of “The Boy: A holocaust storyOn January 15, 2020, Mark Sarvas, author of “Memento Park”, joined the Readers Group. This award-winning author graciously answered questions and discussed his writing process.
ANTISEMITISM IN THE NEWS
As Rabbi Lyon has discussed in his blog, antisemitism is a growing concern for the entire community. To help understand this phenomenon, which is not new, Beth Israel’s Schachtel Library has an extensive collection of books on the subject. Included is Deborah Lipstadt’s “Antisemitism, Here and Now” and Bari Weiss’s “How to Fight Antisemitism”, both recent publications. Take a look at the linked bibliography and call Judy Weidman at 713 820-6410, or firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a book on the subject.
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.
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!
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.
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:
(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 email@example.com, or direct phone at 713 820 6410.
The Readers Group
Readers Group The Beth Israel Readers Group invites congregants and friends to our monthly meetings on the 3rd Wednesday of the month at
Congregation Beth Israel Archival Materials “Bris Book” and documents concerning the “Basic Principles” history of Beth Israel: Now viewable online are images of documents
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.
New Books in the Library and Reviews
New Books in the Library 11/2020 FICTION: Waldman, Amy: A Door in the Earth.An American college student travels to Afghanistan to work
Yom Kippur Symposia
YOM KIPPUR SYMPOSIA SPEAKERS The links below will take you to the words of our Yom Kippur Symposia speakers. 2020/5781 Click here to