Serving the Jewish Community of Central New Jersey for Over a Century

Phone: (609) 443-4454 | Fax: (609) 443-2887 | Email: admin@bethel.net
50 Maple Stream Road, East Windsor, NJ 08520

Service Etiquette

shabbat-photoWhen you come to Beth El to pray, we hope that your visit with us will be an uplifting experience.  In addition to it being proper etiquette to refrain from using technology, attending a service is a good time to “unplug” and take a break from the rigors of everyday life and recharge your spiritual battery.

To help us all maintain an atmosphere worthy of a house of God, we would appreciate your cooperation with the following:

 

  • Despite the jokes about “Jewish time,” services do start on time at Beth El.  Our Torah service on Saturdays can start as early as 9:30 or 9:45, so do not plan on arriving late for a Bar Mitzvah, or you may miss the big moment!
  • Jewish law prohibits the use of electronics on Shabbat and on many holidays.  On Shabbat (including Friday night), please turn off all cell phones and electronic devices.  For the courtesy of others, if you need to use an electronic device, please do so outside of the synagogue building.  No photography or video games are allowed on Shabbat or observance days.  If you do not know whether the holiday is an observance day, please ask one of our ushers.
  • We request that all males wear head coverings (kippot), and adult Jewish males wear a tallit (prayer shawl) for morning services.  Kippot and tallitot are optional for women.  Kippot and tallitot are located outside the doors of the main sanctuary.
  • All men and women should be dressed appropriately for a synagogue service.  On Friday nights and Simchat Torah, Beth El is business casual – people coming from work attend in suits, and those who wish to can come in business casual, or even nice jeans (use your judgment).  On Saturdays, we are more traditional, with men in suits or slacks, and women in skirts or slacks.  Women should wear a dress or shirt that covers the shoulders, or wear a sweater or shawl.  Children should dress neatly, but casual clothes are fine.
  • Our services are haimish – we welcome all children and expect that they will make noise from time to time.  During regular and even holiday services, it is not unusual to see little ones making their way up the aisles or up the steps of the Bimah to say “hi” to the Rabbi and Cantor.  Don’t worry – we all think it’s cute!  Although we love kids, if your child is noisy during the Rabbi’s sermon or the Amidah, or is being disturbingly noisy, we ask that you relocate to the room adjacent to the back of the sanctuary (the gan yeladim, which can also be accessed from the hallway near the bathrooms) so that others can concentrate on prayer and hearing the Rabbi’s sermon.  
  • A Shabbat service involves a lot of standing, sitting and bowing. Whenever the curtain of the Ark is opened to reveal the Torah, the congregation stands until the curtain is closed, and no one is allowed to enter the sanctuary during this time.  Standing is also required when the Torah is lifted.  An announcement will be made whenever standing is required.  
  • Only Kosher food may be brought into the synagogue, and no food other than that set up by the Kiddush Committee should be brought into the social halls.
  • Please keep conversations to a minimum.  We know that services are a time to connect with friends and family – but try to wait for the kiddush!
  • Most of all, enjoy being with us!  If you feel unsure what to do, ask someone – we will be happy to help you, no matter what the question.