Temple Beth Torah earns 'Community of Respect' award
- Written by Trilla Cook
Temple Beth Torah (TBT) recently received the “Community of Respect” award from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for the fourth consecutive year. “Temple Beth Torah is honored to maintain our ongoing status as a ‘Community of Respect,’” said Rabbi Dan Gordon. “Because the Jewish community represents a minority in the Northeast Houston suburbs, it is all the more important to demonstrate a caring for other communities, including other minorities. When people are people, we break down the labels and stereotypes that cause misunderstanding.” Each year, the ADL recognizes organizations that strive to share learning in respectful ways, and this year they tapped TBT for participation and leadership in interfaith programming. Dr. Bruce Edison from ADL’s board of directors presented the award at Shabbat services March 30 at TBT. Guest speaker Reverend Kimberly Orr, associate pastor of Windsor Village United Methodist Church, presented a special sermon entitled “Theological Jazz: Learning the Language of Respect.” Orr, the first Caucasian pastor to serve in a clergy position at Windsor Village, one of the largest predominantly African American churches in the United States, received a certificate of Jewish Learning from the Florence Melton School for Adult Learning (affiliated with Hebrew University), where Rabbi Gordon was one of her teachers at the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston. “Pastor Orr, as a Caucasian who has studied Judaism and serves as a minister in an African-American church, models how we can all learn from each other,” said Rabbi Gordon. “We need to open our ears and our hearts while recognizing that theological disagreements are not barriers to human dignity and respect.” Since 1983, TDT has been the only synagogue serving the Jewish communities of Northeast Houston and in recent years has grown in both numbers and reputation. Several activities throughout the year qualified TBT for this award. Three different Methodist church groups of confirmation students attended the temple’s Friday night Shabbat services welcomed by the temple members, enjoying special services that helped teach about Judaism and Jewish worship. In August, Rabbi Gordon spoke on a panel with a Methodist minister and a Muslim imam at a program sponsored by the Institute for Interfaith Dialog, as each member of the clergy taught about “Resolving Conflicts in the Abrahamic Traditions.” In September, in cooperation with Compassionate Houston, TBT religious school students participated in two community service programs: younger children prepared soup packages for Humble Area Assistance Ministries (HAAM) and older children visited Family Time’s women and children’s shelter to lead games and crafts for the families residing there. An ongoing food drive for HAAM was also included among the many things the temple does to help with the larger community. Temple Beth Torah is located at 320 Shallow Drive in Humble. Photo: From left are Rabbi Dan Gordon of Temple Beth Torah, Congregation President Dan Kullman, ADL board member Dr. Bruce Edison, Rev.Kimberly Orr, Pastor Windsor VIllage United Methodist Church.