US/World News

Houston megachurch opens to Jews whose synagogue was flooded

(JTA) – Televangelist Joel Osteen opened his Lakewood Church in Houston to a Jewish congregation in need of a place to hold High Holidays services. Congregation Beth Yeshurun was completely flooded during Hurricane Harvey, 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 said “Beth Yeshurun’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. … 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.”

Osteen was scheduled to speak during services on Thursday.

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