PDA

View Full Version : Visiting a synagogue advice



Pages : 1 [2] 3 4

paskatefan
06-20-2012, 10:37 AM
Lots of good advice here, so I don't have much to add. I'm a product of the Conservative movement, and belong to what I consider a very welcoming/inclusive synagogue. Our Friday evening Shabbat service is fairly short, and once a month we have "Shabbat with Strings Attached," during which the cantor plays guitar to accompany the prayers, followed by a thematic Oneg Shabbat. Our Shabbat morning services run about 2 & 1/2 hours (a little shorter during the summer). Each synagogue is different, of course, but I feel the Reform movement is a good place to start, and I think you'll feel pretty comfortable there. .

Reuven
06-20-2012, 10:58 AM
Probably should explain about the music thing-Orthodox and most Conservative don't allow musical instruments on Shabbat. It is connected to not doing any work on Shabbat which is from about 15 minutes before sunset on Friday to about a half hour after sunset on Saturday. The Reform movement does use instruments. They came up with the idea of a song leader, that's how Debbie Friedman (z"l) got her start. So now there are all kinds of contemporary Jewish music performers and song writers, and they are mostly Reform Jews.

paskatefan
06-20-2012, 11:13 AM
Probably should explain about the music thing-Orthodox and most Conservative don't allow musical instruments on Shabbat. It is connected to not doing any work on Shabbat which is from about 15 minutes before sunset on Friday to about a half hour after sunset on Saturday. The Reform movement does use instruments. They came up with the idea of a song leader, that's how Debbie Friedman (z"l) got her start. So now there are all kinds of contemporary Jewish music performers and song writers, and they are mostly Reform Jews.

I should add here that my childhood synagogue merged with our current synagogue (demographic changes in the neighborhood). My childhood synagogue did not allow musical instruments to be played on Shabbat & major holidays, but our current synagogue does allow it. There is a professional choir that accompanies some Shabbat services with an organ) and the major festivals (Passover, Sukkot, Shavuot, Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur), but it is done in a very understated way. I have no problem with musical accompaniment, but I imagine some of the older, more "traditional" congregants needed time to get used to it. I learned a lot of music of the Reform movement thanks to taking some Jewish music courses At Gratz College in the Philly area, and through my niece and nephew, whose parents belong to a Reform congregation. Now I have quite a few CDs from "NIFTY (The Reform Movements Youth Group for teenagers), not to mention Debbie Friedman. Love the music! Reuven, are you familiar with Safam (not officially affiliated with the Conservative movement, but their individual members are, I believe)?

Reuven
06-20-2012, 12:19 PM
Very familiar with Safam. I think most New England Jews are as they are a Boston group.

paskatefan
06-20-2012, 12:27 PM
Very familiar with Safam. I think most New England Jews are as they are a Boston group.

Love their music, and have lost count how many times we've seen them in concert.

This is OT, but are you planning on attending US Nationals when it comes to Boston in 2014?

Reuven
06-20-2012, 08:45 PM
Hope to, we'll see.
OK, folks, back to our regularly scheduled thread.

ilovepaydays
06-20-2012, 10:04 PM
You guys have given good insight so far, thanks! :)


Well, evangelicalism/fundamentalism is a culture unto itself ;).

It's not considered putting people on the spot, but rather welcoming them publicly. The idea is for guests/visitors not to get lost in the crowd, but rather to be recognized so that people can make a point to greet them, and if there are special needs, for those to be met (eg, having just moved into the area).

For more conservative churches, the born again question is asked because there are restrictions on who can partake in Lord's Supper and donate to the church. It's also a mechanism to identify people who are in need of evangelism :shuffle:. The exception to that would be mainline churches that are predominantly African-American and/or Native. You see the public greetings there too.

Anyhow, that's just what popped into my head as a point of divergence between synagogues and evangelical churches, so I thought that may be what ilovepaydays was thinking of.

I was referring to the "meet & greet" or "passing the peace" part that is in a lot of Evangelical/Protestant worship services. I always felt that they could make people feel welcome or make me feel "on the spot". Sometimes those discusses get into "When I met the Lord, What the Lord did for me this week, etc." I was also referring to if someone were to ask me about myself before/after service.

barbk
06-20-2012, 10:09 PM
Thanks for asking such great questions, Ilovepaydays, and thank you to all those who provided answers. I learned a lot.

heckles
06-21-2012, 04:40 AM
I'm guessing ilovepaydays is thinking about the part of the service where visitors in many evangelical churches are made to stand up and introduce themselves and say a bit about their background (sometimes explicitly asking whether they've accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior).

What I don't respect is the bait-and-switch that some evangelical churches do: everyone's told to close their eyes, and people who want to get "saved" are told to raise their hands, assured that they have privacy to do so since everyone's eyes are closed. Then, after everyone's eyes are opened, those who raised their hands are aggressively hustled to the front by ushers and put on display. It seems that a lot of evangelical churches are big on having getting impressive numbers for their "altar calls" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yr5Q3ve8hIU), and this is a questionable method that some of them use to attain those numbers.

AxelAnnie
06-21-2012, 05:11 AM
That doesn't happen.

Well, I have seen it happen... But I am in California.. What can I say.

As a convert to Judaism (my husband too) I will tell you that at we were terrified to go into a synagogue... And the first one we went to was Reform...and horrid for us. We were studying the religion and my dearly beloved was not bout to commit... But this service broke every "law" we were learning.... Like writing on Sabbath.. They passed out pencils so we could make a donation to something

The dear, dear Rabbi we were studying with sent us to a Conservative Shul with the fabulous Rabbi and it was heaven... We were there for years.

I was so surprised that people get up and move around during the service. I will obviously these people were not schooled by nuns and priests!
And at the end they passed out candy.... I am thinking ooh! What fun... A sort of intermezzo course...... Oops... They were for the Bar Mitzvah.

I have (except for that first one) never felt out of place at shul... People daven (pray) along quietly or silently... Read other passages.... Looking things up and go at their own pace... So you really can't run too far amok.

Just stand when they stand, sit when they sit, and you will fit in like a pro. If they ask who is here for the first time.. Don't answer if you don't want to.

I love Shul, and have a wonderful fit for me and my family within Judaism... Enjoy your journey

AxelAnnie
06-21-2012, 05:33 AM
Very familiar with Safam. I think most New England Jews are as they are a Boston group.

OMG! Safam! I didn't realize they were really a group that was still together, or that anyone knew besides me. My daughter went out with the son of one of them, and he gave me one of his dad's tapes.....as a lark.

I LOVE them! Their songs always make me sooooooo happy.

vesperholly
06-21-2012, 08:26 AM
It's the difference between our mainstream churches (and yours, are you Lutheran?) and our evangelical churches.

I was raised Lutheran, and no one did that at my church! :eek: Maybe I'd have stopped reading The Babysitter's Club and paid attention if they had.

Years ago, Glamour magazine ran an advice column in which questions were answered by a priest, a pastor and a rabbi. The rabbi always, always had the best advice. :lol:

Please come back and tell us of your experiences. I've been to quite a few bat/bar mitzvahs. The temple in my city is stunning (https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&safe=off&gl=us&biw=1366&bih=643&tbm=isch&sa=1&q=temple+beth+zion&oq=temple+beth+zion&aq=f&aqi=g2g-S8&aql=&gs_l=img.3..0l2j0i24l8.1221.3662.0.3793.16.15.0.0. 0.0.189.1298.7j7.14.0.eish..0.0.O7IPLfpP_7I), with gorgeous stained glass (http://www.flickr.com/photos/36950174@N02/sets/72157616902790607/with/3452617417/). It was built by Max Abramovitz, the architect who designed Avery Fisher Hall (part of Lincoln Center).

Vagabond
06-21-2012, 03:05 PM
I was raised Years ago, Glamour magazine ran an advice column in which questions were answered by a priest, a pastor and a rabbi. The rabbi always, always had the best advice. :lol:

What was the name of the column? "Advice from the Bar"? ;)

cruisin
06-21-2012, 03:09 PM
It's the difference between our mainstream churches (and yours, are you Lutheran?) and our evangelical churches. Believe me, no-one in an Episcopalian church calls people out publicly, if they did the poor ladies would pass out in the pews. The evangelical churches have a different culture.

And no, no-one would ever ask a stranger in a synagogue to stand up and declare his or her beliefs. Not in any denomination or on any occasion. This I'm sure of.

:lol: Having been raised Episcopalian, I can attest to that. Though, it is not unusual for the minister to notice a new person, on the way out. The minister always waits at the door to greet all of the parishioners leaving. They would welcome a new person and offer information, should they want to join the parish. But, it's not high pressure.

I have been in several Synagogues. All for Bar/bat Mitzvahs, so I was with others who were not Jewish. But, I thought the services were beautiful and felt very welcome.

Ilovepaydays, you should go. I am sure you will be made to feel welcome. And I don't think it would be necessary to hide the fact that you are searching for a religious home. I think you would be encouraged and respected for that. But, I don't think you will be interrogated, in any way.

heckles
06-21-2012, 04:42 PM
I was raised Lutheran, and no one did that at my church! :eek:

I like the way a lot of the "mainline" Protestant churches have a point in the service in which everyone stands up to shake hands, say "Peace", or whatever.