Rabbi Gidon Moskovitz, a Jerusalem Kollel Alumnus, arrived with his family in South West Texas in 2005 to lead the Meyerland Minyan, a fledgling Houston synagogue. Since he joined the shul, membership has increased from 25 to 94 families and his influence has extended to all aspects of Jewish life in the community. The shul used to meet in the local JCC, but moved to its own premises almost two years ago, enabling them to increase the frequency of their services as well as the number of people attending them.
One of Rabbi Moskovitz’s priorities has been to expand the educational programming available to the shul and the community. Although his more traditional classes like the Shabbos afternoon in-depth “Laws of Shabbos” class are popular and well received, Rabbi Moskovitz has introduced some out-the-box thinking into his roster of classes as well. One such class is the “Sip of life” program which splits its forty to fifty participants up into small groups to study various aspects of Judaism while sipping Starbucks coffee. This class has become so popular, that one regular attendee remarked, “you’ll need to call it “a GULP of life” due to its popularity.”
One achievement that has been felt across the community is his initiative to restore the Eiruv that had fallen into disrepair over the years. After making the necessary repairs, he organized a crew that checks the Eiruv weekly to maintain its kashrus. This move has revolutionized the Shabbos experience of the people in his area. Now they can carry things to shul, and parents of young children can push their baby-strollers. It has suddenly become much easier to observe Shabbos, and much more opportunity has been added for community socializing and more potential for Shabbos enjoyment.
The Moskovitz’s have built many new relationships with people of varied levels of religious observance. One couple, who were advancing in their commitment to Torah and Mitzvos, discovered that their initial wedding ceremony might have been performed incorrectly. Some time after they got to know Rabbi Moskovitz, they began to consider having another chuppah. One morning, they decided that this was the day that they were going to ‘get married again.’ That evening, Rabbi Moskovitz was running an event at the local Fiozza Coffee House. A coffee house wedding was quickly arranged! With thirty people in attendance, Rabbi Moskovitz performed a deeply moving kosher wedding service for the couple, with a running commentary on the significance of each part of the ceremony and its meaning and origin. Many people were left in tears by this most emotional of life events and the beautiful way in which Rabbi Moskovitz brought meaning and depth to this couple’s new commitment to each other and to their enhanced appreciation of the place of Torah observance in their life.
Upcoming events: Internationally renowned speaker Lori Palatnik is coming to the Meyerland Minyan to conduct a special Shabbaton with the theme will be ‘Bridging the Gap’, focusing on building the relationship between those newly observant, and their friends and family who are dealing with this transition. Also, for Chanukah, a special singles Shabbaton is planned, and singles are expected from all over the country (as well as Mexico). There will be other special Chanukah events for both adults and children.
The Moskovitz family, with their warmth and sincerity and in their own unique style, are slowly but surely raising the flag of Judaism in this corner of South West Texas.