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Many Orthodox Jews live in one of two pockets in the Meyerland neighborhood.
The more strictly observant synagogues are located to the southwest, where members often adhere to the codes of behavior and dress—wigs for women, black hats and visible shirt fringes for men—that one might find in a place like Borough Park in New York.
On its face, this seems like a generation-defying choice.
Young Americans are moving away from traditional religious observance in large numbers, and Jews are no exception.
But the choices they’ve made about how to live—like keeping kosher homes, largely observing the rules of the Sabbath, and moving into homes within walking distance of a synagogue—define the patterns of their days and weeks and years.
This is part of “the conservative, with a small ‘c,’ nature of Houston,” she said; people tend to gravitate toward the institutions they’re used to. The group meets in various people’s houses on Friday nights for Kabbalat Shabbat, the songs and prayers that formally welcome in the Sabbath.Like the rest of their generation, they are largely nonconformists—just traditionally minded, rule-bound nonconformists.It takes particular chutzpah to choose Orthodoxy in the context of what one might call the “deep diaspora”—places like Houston, Texas, which has a long-standing and vibrant Jewish community but also sits squarely in the Bible Belt.Fresh-baked challah laid waiting on the counter for dinner, next to rows of casserole dishes filled with kosher food.Men and women belted the Hebrew of the psalms, with melodies alternately mournful and full of rhythmic, sing-song patterns.