News Roundup: Texas Jewish Communities Remember Pittsburgh Victims With Solidarity Shabbat Services

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelOctober 30, 2018 6:21 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

The first funerals are being held Tuesday for the eleven people shot and killed at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue – and Jewish communities throughout Texas have been holding or planning their own memorials to honor the victims. In Houston for example, synagogues will be holding Solidarity Shabbat services this Friday and Saturday.

Houston Public Media’s Andrew Schneider reports.

Joel Dinkin, chief executive of the J-CC, is a Pittsburgh native who grew up attending the Tree of Life Synagogue. He told Houston Matters he was heartened by the strong show of support from local leaders and people of all faiths.

“What I’m hearing from people is just a frustration over when will this frustration and violence come to an end,” Dinkin said. “How will it come to an end? And what can we do as individuals, as the Jewish community, as the city of Houston to begin to make a difference so that these things don’t continue to happen?”

The Anti-Defamation League’s Southwest Regional Office tracks anti-Semitic incidents across the southern half of Texas. According to the ADL’s Dena Marks, the number of anti-Semitic incidents in that region doubled last year compared to 2016. For the U.S. as a whole, anti-Semitic incidents rose nearly 60 percent over the same period.

A Texas city has received $1 million for a plan to install solar panels and batteries at people’s homes, to meet energy demands.  

Georgetown is one of nine cities in the country, and the only one in Texas, to win the Bloomberg Philanthropies U.S. Mayors Challenge. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who founded Bloomberg Philanthropies, made the announcement Monday.

The yearlong competition encourages local leaders to come up with solutions to some of the toughest problems facing cities, such as homelessness, the opioid crisis, and climate change. 

Jack Daly is the assistant to the Georgetown city manager. He says Georgetown, which is already the first city in Texas to purchase all of it energy needs from renewable sources, was looking for a way to have more of those resources closer to home.

“So, we thought instead of going out and investing in another large-scale energy generation site like a natural gas plant, or a solar farm, or a wind farm, we thought what if we could incrementally grow access to energy and do it locally, so this is what this virtual power plant idea attempt to do,” Daly says.

Daly adds that while Georgetown is growing rapidly, it’s exciting to see it win the competition alongside larger American cities. 

 “To use a boxing metaphor, we’re punching above our weight class a little bit because we’re with the likes of Los Angeles, and Denver, and Philadelphia. So, we’re really excited and these grant dollars provide a little more flexibility to test the bounds of innovation that we would otherwise not be able to push as aggressively using the public’s dollars,” he says. 

Daly says they expect to start installing the solar panels and accompanying batteries next year. 

Wednesday is Halloween, but one Austin couple got a jumpstart on the festivities. For their party this past weekend, Nicole Jensen and Cheri Horner turned their home into a “Whataween” restaurant, modeled after – what else? – Whataburger. ABC affiliate KTRK reports that Whataburger even lent a helping hand, giving Jensen and Horner some signage to make sure it was an authentic experience. They also ordered up $500 worth of treats for their Halloween guests.