Here are some of the questions we remember having, along with a few answers:
1. Do I need to call ahead?
Simple answer: Of course not – just come! Longer answer: You don’t need to call ahead for Shabbat, most holidays, or most classes, but we love it when you do, so that we know to look for you and make you feel welcome. Occasionally, we do have meals where we ask people to RSVP so we order the right amount of food, and on the High Holy Days, we have a few services that require tickets because we need to make sure we have enough seats. But if you’re not sure, just see the simple answer! And then come up and introduce yourself.
2. What if I’m not Jewish? Or if I want to come with a partner, friend, or family member who isn’t Jewish?
We’ll look forward to meeting all of you. If you’re part of an interfaith relationship or family, you’ll be in very good company in our diverse community. And if you’re not Jewish but are curious about Judaism as a spiritual path and/or are thinking about converting to Judaism, then by all means, come see how it feels to be here, and please reach out to our rabbi or cantor, too.
3. And what if I haven’t been in a synagogue for years and years? Or if I don’t believe in God?
You’ll be in good company! Some of us have been lifelong synagogue members, and even third-generation Beth David members, but plenty of us discovered synagogue life late in life. We think you’ll be happily surprised with what you find here. Some of us are believers, some of us are skeptics, and we come to Beth David because we believe that Judaism is about asking big questions and wrestling with God.
4. My family doesn’t look like what I imagine the typical suburban synagogue family looks like. Will I feel comfortable at Beth David?
We think you will. Our membership includes straight couples, gay couples, single people of all orientations and experiences, people with and without kids, and all sorts of other families; cisgender and transgender folks; adults and kids with different kinds of physical and intellectual abilities; people of different races and ethnic backgrounds; people in a range of different socio-economic situations; people facing different health challenges; believers, skeptics, and everyone in between; and a healthy spectrum of political opinion, too. We’re all made in the image of God, and we all eat the Oneg (coffee and snacks) after services together.
5. What do I wear?
Different people feel comfortable wearing different things, and we’re not too concerned with it. Wear what feels respectful and appropriate to you. But if you want to know what to expect, then people tend to get more dressed up for the High Holy Days and B’nai Mitzvah. On Friday nights, the majority of people are somewhere in the business casual zone, with others in jeans and some in suits. Adult Ed classes, Religious School, Tot Shabbat, and most other programs are casual.
6. What should I expect when I come for Shabbat services?
Services are a mix of Hebrew and English with lots of singing. No worries if you don’t know Hebrew – everything in the prayerbook is transliterated into English letters. If you are mourning or remembering a loved one or praying for someone in need of healing, you will be invited to share names out loud. Evening services are typically an hour, followed by an Oneg (coffee and dessert), while B’nai Mitzvah morning services are about two hours. Unlike morning services in Orthodox synagogues, most people arrive when services begin. If you’re early, you’ll nab a good parking spot; if you’re late, our greeters will help you find the page.
7. Do I need to be a member?
Not at all, although we hope you might be inspired to join!
8. Wait – I followed my GPS,but am I in the right place? Is this a church? Or a driveway?
Never fear! You are in the right place. One of our neighbors is the rectory of St. John Vianney, a local Catholic Church that we often partner with for interfaith programming. And Vaughan Lane may look like a driveway, but keep going and you’ll see us at the end of the block.