Excellence is the Way

Excellence is the Way

From the desk of Rabbi David Lyon

I’ve often said, “The future of Judaism will not be built on mediocrity; it will be built on excellence.” Excellent rabbis, cantors, educators, and lay leaders will contribute to great ideas and outcomes. In our long history, Congregation Beth Israel has been very fortunate to have had excellent leaders who served every generation according to their respective needs and hopes. It’s not an accident that Beth Israel still thrives, today, and with great expectations for the future.

In anticipation of the New Year, we begin again with great expectations and new dreams. Among those that are familiar we include MBJLC’s outstanding programs for children and families. Weekly programs for parents, family worship, and fun classroom learning make for great Sunday mornings. On Shabbat and holidays, deeply meaningful worship and music touch our souls with gratitude and hope in our life. Active committees serve many congregational and community needs. Kids’ Meals meets regularly to pack lunches for hungry children. It’s a must-do at Temple, and everyone is invited. ABIDE (Advocacy at Beth Israel for Diversity through Education) addresses large social justice issues through community organizing that begins with you. Sisterhood and Brotherhood are active and welcoming. And, adult learning never stops. Excellent speakers and lectures on the issues of our day, including rising anti-Semitism, are reasons to tune in.

We are also pleased to add new excellence to our clergy team. Rabbi Ellie Steinman will begin with Shabbat services on July 12 and 19. Rabbi Steinman’s commitment to Beth Israel is for one year, for two extended weekends each month, plus High Holy Days. Her presence will enable us to benefit from her rabbinic experience, excellent work ethic, and enthusiasm. While Rabbi Steinman is in Houston, she’ll have an apartment and transportation to help her feel at home among us, and to create opportunities to serve us well. Read more about Ellie at beth-israel.org.

In addition, for the first time, we’ll welcome a student rabbi from the Cincinnati campus of HUC-JIR. Taylor Poslosky will be with us two weekends per month from August through May, but not High Holy Days. Taylor’s Shabbat-plus-Sunday visits will provide her with excellent experience in a large and vibrant congregation, and our youth and young adults, especially, will benefit from her passion for Jewish life.

Every generation is responsible for facing inherent issues while laying the groundwork for the future. At Beth Israel, excellence is key. We are prepared to grow towards the future with every expectation that it will be, as the Torah says, “Tov Me’od,” very good.

Rabbi David A. Lyon is Senior Rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel in Houston, TX. Rabbi Lyon serves on the Board of Trustees of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and chairs its professional development committee. He is the author of God of Me: Imagining God Throughout Your Lifetime (Jewish Lights, 2011) available on Amazon.com. He can be heard on “iHeart-Radio” KODA 99.1 FM every Sunday at 6:45am CST. Listeners around the greater Houston area, and now the internet, tune in to hear his words about life and its meaning from a Jewish point-of-view. Each radio program is available as a Podcast, called “Heart to Heart with Rabbi David Lyon”. Click here to listen online, or download the iHeartRadio app.