Televangelist Joel Osteen opened his Lakewood Church in Houston to a Jewish congregation in need of a place to hold High Holidays services.
- Fleeing Irma, Floridians Take Refuge in Atlanta's Synagogues
- People of the Books: Grassroots Effort Helps Houston’s Jewish Community Replace Holy Texts
- Shabbat Storm: Jews in Southeastern U.S. Brace for Irma by 'Storm-proofing' Torah Scrolls
Congregation Beth Yeshurun was completely flooded during Hurricane Harvey and the building was in no condition to host services, according to reports.
Osteen, and his wife, Victoria, came under fire during Harvey for not immediately opening their large and dry megachurch building to shelter those displaced by the hurricane and its floods. It later opened its doors to refugees from the storms.
A post on the church’s website ahead of Rosh Hashanah read: During Hurricane Harvey, Houston’s largest synagogue, Congregation Beth Yeshurun experienced devastating flooding. This came at an especially bad time for Beth Yeshurun as the Jewish High Holy Days, (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur), are this week. Beth Yeshurn’s leadership reached out to us and Pastors Joel & Victoria offered to help. We are honored to announce that we will be opening our doors to the Beth Yeshurun congregation so that they may celebrate their High Holy Days at our church.”
Beth Yeshurun is a Conservative synagogue in the Meyerland section of Houston. The congregation comprises 2,000 member families. The church seats 16,800 worshippers.
In a message to his congregants posted on the synagogue’s Facebook page Rabbi David Rosen encouraged everyone to attend the High Holiday services.
He wrote, in part: “Some people have said to me they’re not coming to the High Holidays this year. They’re not in the mood. They’re tired, they’re worn out. Others are concerned it may be too much trouble going to Lakewood Church.
“My plea to everyone who feels this way is: Come. No, it won’t be the same. But come. Come and be with your people. Come and be with your rabbis and cantor. We’re waiting to welcome you and to make you feel part of this beautiful gathering, as we have for so many years. We will still be having all of our community services – Chapel, Museum Minyan, Freedman-Levit service, babysitting and children’s programming. Come. It may take a little more effort than in the past, but it will be worth it. You need it. And we need you. Come.”