Houston Jews - Rebuild in Israel!

Your future is here, in Israel. Come to the place where you belong.

Tags: Aliyah Houston
Tzvi Fishman

OpEds Tzvi Fishman
Tzvi Fishman

Hundreds of Jews have been left homeless as the once carefree Jewish community in Houston was devastated by a raging flood, two days before the Passover holiday commemorating the Exodus from Egypt. Orthodox synagogues, the last line of defense of against the widespread flood of assimilation which is ravaging American Jewry, were also severely damaged. This is the second time this year that flooding has overturned the quiet lives of the Jews of Houston.

“As we’ve done before, this community is going to pull together like no other community in the country. We are looking forward to a strong rebuild,” said Rick Guttman, president of the United Orthodox Synagogues.

Dear Rick and the Jews of Houston:

G-d wants us to trust in Him more than we trust in the dollar.
The people of Israel are with you in your tragedy. But as you contemplate the task of rebuilding, why waste your time rebuilding your lives in exile. Your tragedy will only happen again. Whether by flood or fire, earthquake, persecution, or assimilation, the future of Diaspora Jewry is doomed. What point is there in rebuilding your houses and shuls in Houston, Texas when you can build new homes and synagogues in Israel?

A Jew belongs in Israel. Nowhere is Houston mentioned in the Torah. Hashem told Abraham to go to Israel. He promised the Land to Isaac and Jacob. Our Forefathers lived there even though the Land was filled with idol worshippers. After a long exile in Egypt, Hashem told Moses to bring the Jews home to Israel.

All of the Torah comes to teach us that a Jew is to make the Land of Israel his home. As we say at the end of the Passover Seder, “Next year in Jerusalem!” Why waste your time and money rebuilding in a place that is destined to disappear?

Brothers and sisters, don’t be like the Jews who wanted to remain in Egypt, slaves to a foreign culture, dreaming to be accepted by the idol worshippers as loyal Egyptians. Remember what happened to them. They were lost in the plague of darkness, the darkness of swimming pools, and Volvos, and Jewish Federations who promise a wonderful future for the Jews of America.

Brothers and sisters, the choice is before you. You can rebuild your shuls and houses until the next disaster hits, or you can dedicate your lives to helping to rebuild the Jewish Nation in the Jewish Land and thus become an active player in Jewish destiny. Yes, moving to a new place is difficult. But hundreds of thousands of European, and Russian, and Moroccan, and Yemenite, and Ethiopian Jews have done it. You can too!      

Yes, there are also dangers in Israel. There were dangers when Hashem told Abraham to move here. There were dangers when Hashem commanded Moses and Joshua to bring the Jews to Israel when Israel was filled with savages.

Hashem tests us through dangers. He tests our faith in Him and our love for Him through the dangers we have to overcome, and through the sacrifices we have to make on His behalf. This is how he builds us into being His people. He doesn’t want one-day-a-week Jews, lovers of Texas six days a week, and lovers of Hashem on Shabbat.

He wants us to love Him completely, with all of our hearts, with all of our souls, with all of our might, even more than we love our mansions, and swimming pools, and Cadillacs, and cheerleaders. It isn’t enough to say, “In G-d we trust,” by stockpiling dollars in the bank. G-d wants us to trust in Him more than we trust in the dollar.

So to Rick, and the United Orthodox Synagogues, and all of the homeless Jews of Houston, when you gaze at the ruins of your community, be happy. The exile isn’t supposed to last forever. Step out of the darkness of the Astrodome and become a rebuilder of Jerusalem! Your future is here.

Tzvi Fishman was awarded the Israel Ministry of Education Prize for Jewish Culture and Creativity. Before making Aliyah to Israel in 1984, he was a successful Hollywood screenwriter. He has co-authored 4 books with Rabbi David Samson, based on the teachings of Rabbis A. Y. Kook and T. Y. Kook. His other books include: "The Kuzari For Young Readers" and "Tuvia in the Promised Land". His books are available on Amazon.Recently, he directed the movie, "Stories of Rebbe Nachman."