Q. What do I wear?
A. Men, a jacket and tie are most appropriate. A small head covering called a yarmulke or kippah is required. They are available just outside the sanctuary. Women, a dress, skirt and blouse, or pants suit. In general, clothing should be modest. A tallit (prayer shawl) is traditionally worn by all Jewish men. More and more Jewish women are choosing to wear a tallit as well. A tallit should only be worn by a Jewish individual.
Q. What time should I arrive?
A. The service begins at 9AM and usually concludes at Noon. It is not necessary for you to arrive by 9:00. The individual with whom you are coming to celebrate will participate in the Torah service which generally begins at about 9:45AM. If you arrive between 9:45 or 10:00 , you will be certain not to miss him/her.
Q. Where should I sit?
A. Adult guests may sit wherever they are most comfortable. Child guests will likely be directed to sit with the other children, usually towards the back of the same section in which the Bar/Bat Mitzvah family is sitting.
Q. If arriving late, are there times when a guest should not enter the sanctuary?
A. Do not enter when the congregation is standing or when the sanctuary doors are closed. If you are uncertain, you may always ask one of the greeters.
Q. May I bring young children into the sanctuary?
A. Yes. We are always happy to welcome children at Temple Beth El. Please leave “noisy” toys at home. Additionally, writing and coloring is not permitted on the Sabbath, so please leave coloring books, crayons, markers, etc. at home. If you child gets restless, feel free to step outside the sanctuary with him/her. The library is usually open and is a common place where parents bring children who need to stretch their legs. Ask a greeter for directions to the library.
Q. Is there a hearing loop?
A. Yes. If you require the use of the loop, you should make every effort to find a seat around the outside perimeter of the sanctuary, where reception is the strongest.
Q. Are there times when a guest should not leave the service?
A. Don’t leave when the congregation is standing, when the Torah is being taken out or returned to the ark, when the rabbi is speaking, or when the specific ceremony during the service for which you have been invited is taking place.
Q. Will a guest who is not Jewish be expected to do anything other than sit?
A. Guests are expected to stand with the congregation. It is optional for guests to read prayers aloud and sing with the congregation if this would not violate their own religious beliefs. Kneeling is not part of any Jewish service.
Q. Will contributions be collected at the service?
Q. Is it okay to leave early?
Q. Is there usually a reception after the service?
A. Yes. This is called a kiddush. Pastries, and sometimes light lunch foods may be served. It is okay to leave the kiddush at any time.
Q. Is there anything else of which I should be aware?
A. Please do not bring food into the synagogue. Because Temple Beth El adheres to the Jewish dietary laws of kashrut, no outside food or drink may be brought into any part of the synagogue facility. Electronics of any sort are not permitted for use in any part of the synagogue facility during the Sabbath, including cameras, video cameras, video game systems, pagers or cell phones. If you must carry a phone or pager, please keep it on silent mode. If you must take or make a call, we ask that you step outside the synagogue facility. If you are upstairs, you may use the Winton Road entrance, and if you are downstairs, you may use the parking lot entrance.
If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact Temple Beth El on a weekday prior to your visit, or ask one of our greeters upon your arrival.
*“TBE FAQ for those who RSVP” was adapted from How to Be a Perfect Stranger: A Guide to Etiquette in Other People’s Religious Ceremonies, edited by Arthur J. Magida.