In order to make your first visit to a Temple worship service more enjoyable, the following information may be helpful. Every synagogue has its own customs, and these are some of ours.

What should I wear to Shabbat services? 
We strive to create a warm and comfortable atmosphere in our sanctuary. However, because Shabbat is a special time people tend to dress in a way that acknowledges the sanctity and separation of the holiday. Most people wear dress pants, nice tops, suits or dresses. While formal dress is not required, we request that you save your blue jeans, t-shirts, sweatshirts and tennis shoes for other activities.

GiftShop 10Do I need to wear a kippah or tallit?
Men and women may choose to wear a head covering or not. We do provide a basket of kippot if you would like to wear one. Tallit (prayers shawls) are welcome but we do not provide them.

What should I do with my cell phone or pager?
To honor the sanctity of Shabbat and show respect for the service and fellow congregants, please turn off your cell phone or pager upon entering the sanctuary.

Will I be expected to participate in the service? How will I know what to do?
The person who is leading the service will announce the page number and when you are to stand and sit. Please read aloud and sing with the congregation. During the service, congregants may be called to the bima (pulpit) to light the Shabbat candles, bless the wine, or participate in the Torah service. Please know that these honors are prearranged and you will not be singled out and asked to come on the bima without warning. The one exception to this is when the Rabbi or Cantor invites those celebrating a birthday in a certain month to the bima for a blessing. Participating in the birthday blessing is of course optional.

At the Shabbat morning service during a B’nai Mitzvah, there is a procession around the sanctuary with the Torah scroll called the hakafah. You may see congregants reaching out to touch the Torah with either their prayer book or the corner of their tallis. This is a custom that conveys reverence for the Torah, but no one is obligated to participate in it.

When may I enter or exit the sanctuary? 
Please avoid entering or exiting the sanctuary when the Torah is being read. As a courtesy to others and as a sign of respect to the Rabbi or guest speaker, please avoid leaving the sanctuary during the sermon or d’var torah. When the congregation is standing in prayer, we ask that you wait to re-enter the sanctuary until the congregation sits down.

May children attend Shabbat worship services?
Children are definitely welcome to come to Shabbat worship services. In fact, we strongly encourage our school age children to attend so that they learn the Shabbat prayers and music. Plus, it is beautiful for families to be together on Shabbat. Younger children may find services a peaceful and enjoyable experience, but it can be a challenge for them to sit quietly for an hour or more.

Here are some suggestions to help them:

  • Have them bring a few books, or coloring books and crayons so they have something they can do if they get antsy. It is fine for them to bring a stuffed animal, too, but any toy that makes noise, particularly electronic games, do not belong in the sanctuary.
  • Have them visit the restroom and get a drink before the service has begun to cut down on the need to leave the sanctuary during the service.
  • Encourage your child to stand when the congregation stands. This is a built in opportunity for them to stretch.
  • If you child becomes restless or noisy, pleaes take them out of the sanctuary. Remember that others come to services for many reasons - to find spiritual uplift, to enjoy the music, to hear the Rabbi’s sermon, to say kaddish for a loved one who has died. A crying child detracts from the Shabbat worship experience. We do offer sitter service on a regular basis. Please check the sitter service page for more information.
  • Never send your young child out of the sanctuary to roam the halls unattended. We want your children to be safe in our building and we do not have attendants who can watch your child, except for in the sitter service room.

If you have any questions about these guidelines, please contact the Temple Israel Office. Thank you.