Houston: The Nation’s Next Voucher Battleground?
The Jewish Press
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
The national debate over the school voucher program rages on, and Houston’s Jewish community is playing an active role. Area synagogues collaborated recently to send buses to a rally in the state capital that was organized by many lobbying groups, including Agudath Israel of America.
“It’s natural for Houston to get involved – we’re a city of 55,000 Jews,” says Rabbi Aryeh Wolbe, executive director of the Torah Outreach Resource Center of Houston (TORCH). “We’re following the OU’s urging to ’embrace and support school choice efforts’ like vouchers. It makes financial sense for a lot of people, and as one of the larger Jewish communities, we need to take a leadership role.”
Indeed, Houston’s Jewish community has been increasing steadily for the past decade. New families are drawn in by the housing market – values have increased significantly, but homes are still much more affordable than in most other parts of the country – and the variety of jobs available.
“A lot of people don’t realize that Houston is home to one of the largest medical centers in the world where cutting edge research and technologies are developed,” says Dr. Mordechai Lynn, a neurologist who relocated to Houston several years ago. “The hospitals alone offer a variety of jobs and academic opportunities, and related service industries are also major employers,” he says. In addition, over 20 companies on the Fortune 500 list are headquartered in Houston.
The community’s expansion has produced for its residents a choice of day schools, new yeshiva learning opportunities, and additional minyanim at established synagogues.