We have many visitors to our synagogue, both Jewish and non-Jewish, and many wonder about the etiquette. Here’s what you need to know when visiting Congregation Ahavas Israel.
If you are coming as individuals, you are welcome anytime for any service. If you are coming with a group, we ask you to call the office and schedule your visit. We limit groups to five people at a time. If your group has more than that, we ask that you divide your group and schedule your visit on more than one Shabbat.
If you visit on Shabbat or a holiday, please understand that Ahavas Israel strives to create an atmosphere of Shabbat within our walls, a “bubble of Shabbat space.” Please help us by turning off cell phones and other electronic devices. Texting, audio or video recording and photography are prohibited on Shabbat and Jewish holidays. In consideration of traditional Shabbat practice, we also ask that you not write in the synagogue.
Jewish adults are encouraged to wear a tallit. All men should wear a head covering during worship. Kippot are available in bins outside the sanctuary or chapel. Women’s head coverings are only required when leading a service or taking an aliyah. For services, we usually have conservative dress, appropriately modest. Men wear anything from a suit, to a nice shirt and slacks or clean jeans. Women can also wear a suit, dress, or slacks.
Our services start at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday mornings and end at about about 11:45 a.m. The service consists of 4 parts:
- (9:30 a.m.) Preliminary service, consisting of mostly of chanted Psalms;
- (9:45 a.m.) The Shema and Amidah – The core of Jewish prayer
- (10:15 a.m.) The Torah service – a reading from Torah, Prophets (the Haftarah), and a bit of learning (D’var Torah)
- (11:30 a.m.) An additional Amidah prayer and concluding prayers
A service Guide, called Tefillah (Prayer) Tidbits, is available at the back of the Sanctuary or chapel or can be read or downloaded online here.
We use a prayer book that has both Hebrew and English. Services are in Hebrew, with some prayers in English. If you don’t know any Hebrew, you can read along in the English translation. Please follow along where you can.
If you need some extra help following the service, please let the usher know. Many times a member of the congregation will sit beside you and help you understand the service, including where we are in the prayer book as well as “what’s happening now.”
After services we have kiddush, which is a light communal meal/snacks. You are welcome to attend; we would like to get to know you, whether you are Jewish or not.
We look forward to meeting you!