For the fifth consecutive year, Temple Beth Torah (TBT) is receiving an award on March 22 designating the Humble synagogue as a “Community of Respect.” This is an award given annually by the Anti-Defamation League to organizations that strive to share learning in respectful ways. Several activities qualified TBT for this honor. Among the highlights of interfaith activities was the participation by several of temple members in the Kingwood community’s interfaith March of Remembrance, in which second generation Holocaust survivors and temple members Hy Penn and Simon Wellner were keynote speakers.
Rabbi Dan Gordon was part of the planning committee for the March, and collaborated with Monsignor Chester Borski of St. Martha’s Catholic Church and Pastor Rod Bryant of Calvary Christian Fellowship to present a meaningful service that honored Jewish as well as non-Jewish victims, survivors and rescuers. At Yom Kippur services this year, a few dozen worshippers stayed during the break to hear a panel of Rabbi Gordon, Pastor Kevin Sinclair of Main Street Baptist Church and practicing Hindu Nishta Mehra discuss atonement in Christianity, Hinduism and Judaism. TBT annually opens its doors to groups of students from local churches who wish to learn about Judaism, and this year, the temple’s confirmation students also took a field trip to experience another style of worship.Several members of Temple Beth Torah are docents at the Holocaust Museum of Houston, providing valuable education.
The temple’s ongoing participation in food drives for Humble Area Assistance Ministries has been strongest this year, with more members volunteering for that valuable local resource. Rabbi Gordon’s involvement in the interfaith community was also a factor in the award, as he made several presentations to multi-cultural groups to teach the Jewish perspective on various issues. To help celebrate this achievement, Jodi Bernstein, Senior Associate Director of ADL Southwest Region, will present the award. Ms. Bernstein has been a mainstay at ADL for over 20 years. She and Rabbi Gordon first met 20 years ago when both were founding committee members for Houston’s “Prejudice Awareness Summit,” a program to help teenagers learn about respect and tolerance.
The temple has also invited a guest speaker for the occasion. The Rev’d Canon Betty Adam is a scholar, resident Canon Theologian at Christ Church Cathedral, writer, speaker and an ordained Episcopal Priest. Inspired by Karen Armstrong’s “Charter for Compassion”, Rev. Adam has become the founder and executive director of Compassionate Houston, a collaborative, humanitarian organization formed by Houstonians to celebrate and nurture compassionate culture. Rev. Adam invited Rabbi Gordon to be part of the founding think tank, and the grass roots, interfaith group has been making an impact.
On February 26, due to the dedicated work of Rev. Adam and her “team,” Mayor Parker officially proclaimed Houston a “Compassionate City.” At the Shabbat service March 22, Rev. Adam’s talk will focus on the convergence of respect and compassion. Temple Beth Torah is located at 320 Shallow Drive in Humble. The temple is celebrating its 30th anniversary as the only Jewish institution in northeast Houston.