Customs & Etiquette
May this synagogue be, for all who enter, the doorway to a richer and more meaningful life. – Mishkan T’filah, our prayer book.
All are welcome to worship at Temple Beth El, though we recognize that some worshippers have more experience in Reform Jewish religious services. If you are new to Jewish worship in general or to Temple Beth El in particular, we want to help ease your transition to the customs of our prayer service.
When are Jewish prayer services?
The Jewish Sabbath begins Friday night at sundown and concludes on Saturday evening at sundown. Synagogue worship services for the Sabbath – Shabbat – are typically held on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings. Similarly, holiday and festival worship services are held on the evenings and mornings of those days. See current worship schedule and the Jewish holiday calendar.
How do I greet people?
The customary greeting on Shabbat is “Shabbat Shalom” – “a peaceful Sabbath”. The appropriate response to this greeting is simply to reply, “Shabbat Shalom”.
Will prayer books be provided?
At Temple Beth El, we typically use the Reform Movement’s prayerbook, Mishkan T’filah, which will be found in a book rack under your chair. We employ many creative worship techniques and may project some prayer texts on the walls at the front of the sanctuary or provide you with additional materials. While we announce page numbers regularly, we encourage you to always ask a neighbor with help finding the spot.
Are prayer services in English?
At Temple Beth El, we pray in Hebrew, English, and Aramaic. All page numbers and instructions are given in English. If we are offering a prayer in Hebrew, the phonetic transliteration and the English translation will be provided.
How will I know what to do during the service?
The Jewish prayer service does involve some choreography: standing and bowing, most commonly. The congregation will rise when the ark is open or if the Torah is being carried.
What about ritual attire?
The tradition regarding the wearing of a kippah (head covering) and tallit (prayer shawl) vary widely in the Reform Movement. Both men and women may choose to wear these ritual garments during prayer. Kippot and tallitot (worn only during morning services) are provided at the entrance to our sanctuary for those who wish to wear them.
What should I wear?
We want you to be comfortable! Most synagogue-goers at Temple Beth El wear business casual to semi-formal attire for Shabbat; however casual clothing is perfectly acceptable. Standards of modesty vary widely among congregants, though most people do refrain from flip flops, shorts, and bare shoulders.