Customs & Policies
Affiliation and Language
Our community is non-denominational and independent — not bound to one strand of Jewish practice. We warmly embrace the breadth and diversity of Jewish life, in the style of Jewish Renewal. Our services are accessible in English and selected Hebrew within the matbeah (structure) of traditional liturgy. Similarly, we combine traditional nusach (liturgical melodies and forms) with modern and inclusive interpretations to bring prayers to life.
Family Life and Inclusion
We fully honor the participation and blending of our diverse families and communities. Women and men participate equally. We warmly welcome LGBT members and their spouses and partners. (Our community was among the first in New York to solemnize a same-sex marriage.) We warmly welcome non-Jewish members and guests who wish to join us in celebrating and honoring Jewish life in its many forms – whether exploring Jewish life for themselves or joining us as fellow seekers practitioners of other faiths.
Sound and Children
We warmly welcome children of all ages: our community is informal, loving, caring and enfolding of all. By the same token, we thank all participants for their awareness that noise can impact the community’s overall spiritual flow. Please feel free to exit and enter services and events as would best serve your and the community’s holistic experience.
Cellular Phones and Photography
To honor the kedushah (holiness) of our sacred space and shared experience, we ask that members and guests please shut off cellular phones and other hand-held devices before entering the synagogue. For the same reason, we ask that members and guests not take photographs during services without advance approval of clergy.
Some members and guests are sensitive to scents, especially during “allergy season.” For the health and comfort of all, we ask that members and guests kindly refrain from wearing perfume and cologne.
Life Cycle Events
We invite members and non-members to honor their life cycle events with us. For more information, please visit our Life Cycles page.
Music and Electricity
To uplift the musical joy described in Psalm 150, our services feature instrumental and vocal music, and we use modern amplification for the benefit of our members.
Our community kitchen is kosher and maintained under rabbinical supervision. To preserve kashrut and ensure that our facility is welcoming to all, we ask members and guests to please refrain from bringing personal food items into the synagogue. For potlucks and oneg celebrations, we ask that members and guests bring dairy or pareve foods only. Please contact us with any questions about food preparation.
Guide and Therapy Dogs
Certified and licensed guide and therapy dogs are welcome in accordance with our enduring commitment to being open and accessible to all. Because several members and guests may be allergic, however, we ask that persons intending to bring a guide or therapy dog to services kindly inform us in advance.
In keeping with our enduring commitment to being open and accessible, we are working to install disability-access to our entire facility, built during the 1950s at a time before the advent of modern awareness and technologies. Persons requiring mobility assistance should please contact us so we can make supportive accommodations. We look forward to welcoming you.
As a heart-centered and close-knit community, we have a heart-centered process to address disputes that may arise. Our process is called teshuvah – literally “return,” but more broadly repair and healing. Consistent with Jewish law and custom, a community member who seeks teshuvah arranges to sit privately with clergy, who will hear the seeker fully for what he or she wants and needs, and what he or she feels able to contribute to the teshuvah process. In some cases, there may be more than one discussion with clergy over time to allow the heart process to evolve; in other cases, a seeker feels wronged and wants a result (e.g. correction, recognition, justice, restoration, etc.) but does not see his or her own role in the conflict. Depending on how discussions unfold, clergy then reaches out to the other party to begin a similar private dialogue. When both parties are ready, clergy arrange a three-way structured dialogue. If there is a “glitch” in the process (e.g. resistance), clergy address that “glitch” using tools of hashpa’ah (spiritual direction) in the way that makes emotional, spiritual and practical sense under the circumstances. Anyone wishing more information, or seeking to invoke our teshuvah process, should please contact Rabbi Shohama or Rabbi David.