Is this your first time visiting Temple Beth Israel? Visiting any synagogue? We hope the information below helps give you an idea of what to expect. Because Shabbat is a day of rest, when no business is transacted, synagogues do not pass a “collection plate” or accept donations at services. Visitors are not expected to bring anything with them, except a kippah (a yarmulke, or skull cap), if they own one. TBI provides extra kippot for visitors.
Reconstructionist Judaism, the newest of the three liberal branches of Judaism, is a progressive, contemporary approach to Jewish life that integrates a deep respect for traditional Judaism with the insights and ideas of contemporary social, intellectual and spiritual life. The Reconstructionist movement has its own siddur (prayer book), Kol Haneshamah, which we use at Temple Beth Israel. For services, our Reconstructionist approach means several things:
Women and men participate, and are counted, equally in all aspects of worship and community life. You will see both men and women wearing tallit (prayer shawls) and kippot (yarmulkas, or skull caps).
Traditional & Creative Liturgy
The Kol Haneshamah siddur we use, featuring gender-neutral English text, contains new Hebrew and English liturgy as well as transliterations of all communally spoken prayers. The siddur reflects our ongoing interaction with the Divine – ancient texts are complemented by contemporary midrash, poems and commentaries, engaging the central themes of each portion of the service, and encouraging participation.
Participatory & Bilingual
We use a mixture of Hebrew and English during services, and encourage congregational participation. In general, most of our singing is in Hebrew (you will be directed to transliterations in the siddur), while responsive readings and midrash or commentaries are usually done in English.
TBI is welcoming to all Jewish and interfaith families and individuals, as well as to non-Jewish visitors exploring our community for the first time. TBI does not discriminate against anyone on the basis of age, race, sexual orientation, or gender. We will ask new visitors to introduce themselves, so we can get to know you during the oneg.
On a Typical Shabbat
On Friday nights, our Kabbalat Shabbat services begin at 7:30 pm and generally run for 1½ to 2 hours, followed by a small Oneg Shabbat (literally “Joy of Shabbat”) with juice, challah, cookies, and other small snacks). Services for families with young children are scheduled throughout the year.
On Saturday mornings, Torah Study begins at 9:00 a.m. Our Kol Haneshamah service begins at 10:00 a.m. Saturday morning services may last 1 1/2 to 2 hours, incorporating a full service, and are followed by kiddush.
Dress is generally casual to semi-formal, and be prepared for lots of singing – Temple Beth Israel is a very musical congregation!
For a Bar/Bat Mitzvah
Is a friend or family member celebrating a Bar or Bat Mitzvah? Mazel Tov! On these Shabbats, Torah Study takes place at 8:30 a.m., and services begin at 9:30 a.m. Please respect the sanctity of Shabbat and refrain from taking pictures, using your cell phone, or writing during the service. It is customary to dress up a little for such an occasion, as you would for any other important life-cycle event.
If you are also attending Friday night services, the bar or bat mitzvah will probably be asked to introduce all of his or her guests to the congregation, so be prepared to stand up and wave!