The most important information to share with our visitors is that we are an unafilliated, all-inclusive congregation. We hope this Web site will answer the majority of questions visitors might have about our synagogue and its membership. Please see About Adas Yoshuron, History and Activities in particular to learn about who we are and what our shul offers its members. A look at our monthly newsletter, Hashofar, and Calendar will give you an overview of the current month’s events and services. See Contact if you would like to speak directly with someone from our office.
Adas Yoshuron Synagogue warmly welcomes everyone to all services and events we hold. For visitors who are unfamiliar with Jewish services, customs, prayer books, and life-cycle events, we’ve prepared a brief and we hope helpful guide that will enable you to enjoy your visit.
• Please turn off cell phones, pagers and beepers before you enter the sanctuary.
• Please do not smoke near or inside the building.
• Applause is generally inappropriate, but follow the congregation’s lead (as during a Bar or Bat Mitzvah).
• Photography, filming, videotaping from cell phones or cameras, or using any electronic devices that could disturb the solemnity of the service are not allowed unless the Board of Directors has approved these activities before the service.
WHAT SHOULD I WEAR?
There are no restrictions regarding clothing at Adas Yoshuron. Although it is a custom (minhag) at Adas Yoshuron for men and young boys to wear a head covering (kippah) while in the sanctuary, and many women in our congregation also wear a kippah, covering one’s head is optional. If you choose to wear a kippah, you may borrow one from a bin as you enter the synagogue. On Saturday morning, men who are a Bar Mitzvah usually wear a prayer shawl (tallit); in our congregation some women also wear a tallit. Non-Jewish visitors are not expected to wear a tallit. During a Bar or Bat Mitzvah service, a non-Jewish parent who is called to the alter (bimah) will be asked to wear a kippah and a tallit while on the bimah when the Torah is out of the ark.
WHEN SHOULD I ARRIVE?
Our Friday-evening services typically begin at 6:30 p.m. and last about 1 hour. Shabbat-morning services begin at 10:00 a.m. and last about 3 to 4 hours. People often arrive after the service has begun and come and go during the service. Jewish services follow a specific order, so it is possible for people to gauge when they should arrive if they wish to participate in a particular part of the service. People also leave early and might return for the community blessing and meal (oneg).
HOW DO I FOLLOW THE PRAYER BOOKS?
Jews consider their prayer books to be holy and treat them with respect. We have a custom of kissing a prayer book if it falls on the ground. To get oriented, note that Jewish prayer books are read from right to left. During the evening service we use one prayer book. For the Saturday-morning Shabbat service we use two books: the prayer book (siddur), which contains the liturgy; and a chumash, which contains the Hebrew and English texts of the Five Books of Moses. We turn to the chumash during the Torah service. The siddur contains Hebrew text, transliteration and translation of the Hebrew, and English text, as well as commentary on the prayers. Our songs are also in the siddur.
WHAT IS “THE TORAH SERVICE?”
During the Torah service, we turn from the prayer book to the chumash, to read a selection from the Five Books of Moses (the exact content of the Torah scroll that the service leader chants from). The Torah is divided into portions (parashot), which are read in a yearly cycle. A typical portion is three or four chapters long, and the leader chants the portion in sections, each of which is preceded and followed by a Hebrew blessing. It is an honor to be called to the Torah to read the blessings, an act we call an aliyah, which means “to go up.”
The congregation stands after the reading is complete, when the Torah is lifted. It is customary for the service leader or a member of the congregation to hold up the scroll, to show the congregation the portion that was just read. After the Torah is wrapped in its special cover and returned to the ark, the congregation is seated.
Sometimes a Haftorah, a passage from one of the books of the Prophets is read in Hebrew. This reading typically relates to the Torah portion.
Following the Torah reading, the leader gives a commentary, called a dvar Torah, on that week’s portion.
WHICH OTHER CUSTOMS SHOULD A VISITOR BE AWARE OF?
It is always acceptable to remain seated if you are unable to stand. Generally, congregants are required to sit or stand at various points in the service. One unwavering rule: Stand when the ark is open and the Torah is being taken out of the ark or carried around the sanctuary. Once the Torah is laid on the Torah table, it is fine to be seated. Some congregants may bow or sway from side to side while standing and praying; however, there is no need to do what others are doing in this regard. Remain standing when the congregation is standing and be seated when some members of the congregation begin to sit down.