Houston’s Largest Shul Set For Demolition Following Damage From Hurricane Harvey


A Shul in Houston that has served members for generations will soon be demolished, reports ABC 13.

During Hurricane Harvey, United Orthodox Synagogues (commonly referred as UOS) – was hard-hit, taking on six to seven feet of water. Located in the flood-prone Meyerland neighborhood, it was the third time the Shul flooded in as many years.

UOS is led by Rabbi Barry Gelman. It was formed by a merge of three separate Shuls almost 50 years ago. The oldest of those Shuls dates back to 1905.

The final prayer at the Shul is scheduled for Sunday morning.

“I think we all will be saying a special prayer to give everybody strength and fortitude to continue on,” said long-time member Linda Freedman Block, whose relatives helped build the synagogue decades ago.

Countless life cycle events were held in the sanctuary: brissim and baby namings, bar mitzvahs, weddings and funerals.

In December, the congregation decided it was time to demolish the main building, including the sanctuary, offices and classrooms.

“It’s like any place that you love, that you spend a lot of time in. It will be sad,” said Freedman Block.

Damage from the floodwaters caused extensive damage to the facility. Everything the water touched was ruined, including thousands of siddurim and seforim. The Sifrei Torah were b”h rescued unharmed.

“We will continue to be a religious center for the Jewish community of Houston,” said Rabbi Barry Gelman, who has insisted a rebuilding is in progress. “The only question is, what the new building is going to look like. Where precisely it’s going to be.”

The congregation is made up of more than 300 families who live nearby.

Gelman said they have not decided if they’ll elevate and rebuild on their current campus or maybe close by.

Members are looking at the devastation as a chance to start over, a rebirth and recommitment to their faith.

“The synagogue is not really just about the building. It’s really the people in it,” insisted Freedman Block.

Members are encouraged to bring pictures and share stories of fond memories. No date has yet been set for demolition. The congregation is in the process of raising more than $6 million for new construction.

(Nat Golden – YWN)