Why I Spent The High Holidays At A Mega-Church

Things were a little different in Houston, Texas this year...

Living in Houston, Texas, when the High Holy Days arrived this year, we were still in recovery mode. People’s homes were damaged in the storm and the floods that followed, and so too were our institutions. My own home congregation, Congregation Beth Yeshurun, was unable to open its doors to welcome the new year.

So another local house of worship opened its doors. That’s how we wound up at Lakewood Church for the holidays.

Congregation Beth Yeshurun is the largest Conservative synagogue in the United States, so hosting us is no small feat– but Lakewood Church is not a small institution, either. You may have heard of its pastor, who made an appearance to welcome us: Joel Osteen.

The church did everything possible to make us feel at home. They even projected the mosaic tiled walls that flank the bima of our synagogue on the “bima” of their church!

As we heard the sound of the shofar, and welcomed the new year, it didn’t feel like we were doing so at a mega-church. It felt like we were doing it together, with our home congregants, displaced from our building but not from our community.

The way our entire community has come together in the wake of Hurricane Harvey has been inspiring. As other visitors have noted, there’s a lot to be proud of here. We truly are stronger together, and getting to celebrate the holidays in our neighbors’ congregation bonded us more deeply with them as well as with our own traditions and celebrations. It truly was lovely.

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