We love to have visitors at B’nai Sholom!
All of our services and classes and most other activities are open to everyone, Jewish or not. Whether you are looking to join others in prayer or study, seeking a warm community, exploring Reform Judaism, curious about our synagogue or Judaism, hoping to become a member of our community, or just passing through, we are happy to have you with us. Click on the following for additional information.
We have Shabbat services every Friday evening at 7:00 p.m. On the second Friday of each month, we also have a “Tot Shabbat” program with a kid-friendly service from 5:30 to 6:00 p.m. (contact the synagogue office for details, as we sometimes meet outdoors or offsite when the weather is nice).
Saturday morning services are held monthly or when there is a bar/bat/brit mitzvah, a religious school class service, or for other special occasions; check the synagogue calendar on the website to see when the next Saturday morning service is scheduled. Saturday morning services start at 10:30 a.m. Currently, our weekly Shabbat morning Torah study meets via Zoom.
Services for the Days of Awe (the “High Holy Days,” Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) require advance registration, for security and planning reasons. There is no charge for visitors, though donations are welcome.
Our building is easily accessible to those in a wheelchair, with a level approach from the handicapped spaces in the parking lot to our entrance walkway and through the main doors, which can be operated electrically. We have a handicap accessible, gender-neutral restroom. Seating in our sanctuary consists of individual chairs rather than pews, so we can easily accommodate a wheelchair or service dog (or a stroller).
Our adult classes, movies, lectures and other activities are also open to all. Some might require pre-registration, possibly with a fee. Check the Bulletin or our Adult Education webpage, or call or email the office (518-482-5283; email@example.com) for more information. Shabbat morning Torah study is always free.
Weekday office hours are Tuesday-Friday, 9:30-4:30. The office is closed on Mondays. If you’re coming by on a weekday to meet us or pick up information, it’s always a good idea to call first, since our small staff may be running an errand. Just because you get voicemail doesn’t mean no one’s around!
A member of our Board of Trustees will be greeting everyone at the door as you arrive ahead of the start time for the service. They can help show you the coatroom and the restrooms, usher you into the sanctuary, and make sure you have the proper prayer book for the service.
Our service follows a prescribed order set out in our prayer book, Mishkan T’filah, published by the CCAR Press (the publishing arm of the Jewish Reform Movement). We say or chant some prayers in Hebrew and some in English. All Hebrew in the service is both transliterated phonetically and translated into English in Mishkan T’filah, so you can follow along, participate, and understand in whichever language you are most comfortable. Our Rabbi, or occasionally a lay leader, guides everyone through the service, announcing page numbers and indicating when to rise or be seated. At those moments, congregants are invited to “rise” in the way that they are able – in body (by standing) or in spirit, if standing for parts of the service is not a comfortable option for you.
Typically, our Friday night service includes a sermon, which is usually a “d’var Torah,” an explanation/interpretation of the week’s reading from the Torah (the first five books of the Hebrew Bible), and the entire service lasts an hour. We do not usually read from the Torah on Friday nights; when we do, the service may go a bit later. When we have a Saturday morning service, it includes a Torah reading and a d’var Torah and generally lasts an hour and a half. Sometimes on Friday nights we have a special program with a featured speaker, who may speak during the service in place of the sermon or immediately following the service.
Our services are relatively informal. We are an engaged, participatory group, joining robustly in the singing and sometimes posing questions or making comments during the service. Often our singing is accompanied by guitar or tambourine. We especially love having children present. Babies making ordinary baby noises are apt to be met with broad smiles from fellow worshipers. We also have a lounge, a library with a children’s corner and a classroom where anyone needing a break from the service can retreat as needed.
After the service – COVID Community Level permitting – there’s typically a reception of pastries, beverages and other noshes, known as the Oneg Shabbat on Friday evening and the Kiddush on Saturdays or festivals, to which everyone is invited. This is our opportunity to perform the mitzvah of Hachnasat Orchim, our Jewish obligation to welcome guests, so we sincerely hope you’ll stay after the service so we can meet each other!
Dress however you are comfortable, with due reverence for the place and occasion. You’ll see some congregants wearing jeans and others in business attire.
We do not require head coverings (kippot/yarmulkes), but congregants and visitors of all gender identities are welcome to do so. There are extras on the bookshelf outside the coatroom if you forgot to bring yours.
Prayer shawls (tallitot) are not worn at Friday night services. Some people choose to wear them at morning services, but many do not. Again, we have some available on the bookshelf.
We especially welcome visiting groups from other faiths, whether adults or teens. It is best that you call before you set a date for your group so that we can make sure the service is in fact a good one for your group. Our Rabbi will be pleased to meet with your group after the service to answer questions.