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Welcome to Congregation Sha'arei Shalom!

Below is a list of Frequently Asked Questions to assist you in learning more about who we are and about our community life together.


Our Shabbat worship service is central to the life of our community.  Everyone is Welcome!  If it's your first time joining with us for worship on Shabbat morning, you’ll probably have a few questions about what to expect. Services are on Saturdays at 10am. Most people come to our services “dress casual,” but you’ll notice variety in what people wear. So, relax, you'll look just fine! When you arrive, you'll probably be greeted by some people in the lobby. They can help answer any questions you might have.

Step One: Getting Settled

What items will I find in the foyer before the service?


  • Flyers announcing upcoming holiday observances and special events.

  • A Kippah (for men). All men are encouraged to wear a kippah while in the synagogue building. A kippah is a reminder that G-d is above, and a sign of submission to Him.


Is childcare available for babies and toddlers?

Yes, the nursery opens at 9:45am and it is available every Shabbat of the year throughout the entire service for babies and toddlers, ages 0-3.

Is there a children’s program?

Yes, during the academic year, children ages 4-11 participate in the main service until they are dismissed for what we call “Jr. Shabbat” at around 11:15am. We have two different classes that are age appropriate.

How long is the service?

It lasts from 10am until about 12pm.

Step Two: Understanding the Service

How do I follow the service?

To facilitate following the flow of the service we project prayers and song lyrics at the front of the sanctuary. These contain English, Hebrew and transliterated text. Scripture readings, message outlines, and other helpful directions are also displayed on the screens. 

What is the outline of the service?

Although our services are different each week, you will find that the outline of the service is consistent:

  • Morning Blessings

  • Verses of Song

  • Shema (Hear O Israel!)

  • Amidah (Standing Prayer)

  • Torah (Readings from the Torah, Prophets, and New Covenant)

  • Drash (Sermon)

  • Closing Prayers


What is the etiquette during the service?

  • Singing and Praying. Join in with Hebrew and English songs and prayers as much, or as little, as you feel comfortable. The “lai, lai, lai’s” aren’t difficult! We ask that you not play musical instruments such as tambourines or shofars.

  • Standing and Bowing. We stand a lot during worship. There will be clear cues for you to rise (if you are able) during specific portions of the service. You will notice many people bowing as an act of reverence before the L-rd at different times during certain prayers. If this is unfamiliar to you, do not feel obligated to bow. You’ll get the hang of it over time!

  • Dancing. We incorporate Israeli-style folk dance as a worship expression during certain parts of the service. We ask that you participate only if you are already familiar with the dance steps.


What are the meanings of some Hebrew words I’ll encounter in the service?

  • Bimah—Raised platform at the front of the sanctuary and/or the table on which the Torah is read

  • B’rit Chadashah—New Testament

  • Challah—Traditional braided bread enjoyed on Shabbat

  • eSiddur—Electronic prayer book projected at the front of the sanctuary (Power Point)

  • G-d/L-rd—“God”/“Lord” written respectfully so as not to treat the use of God's Name lightly

  • Haftarah—Weekly reading from the biblical Prophets that coincides with the Torah portion

  • Kiddush & Motzi—Special blessings for joy and sustenance said over bread and wine at the end of the service

  • Parashah or Parsha—Weekly reading from the Torah

  • Ruach HaKodesh—Spirit of G-d

  • Shabbat—Sabbath, Saturday

  • Shalom—Peace, Hello, Goodbye

  • Siddur—Prayer book

  • Tanakh—Jewish Bible, the Old Testament

  • Torah—First five books of the Bible (Genesis through Deuteronomy)

  • Tzedakah Box—Offering box located at the back of the sanctuary for tithes, offerings and visitor’s cards

  • Yeshua—Jesus

What is the significance of the Torah Processional and what should I do during it?


After the Torah scrolls are removed from the ark, they are processed around the sanctuary. For us, the Torah Scroll is a visible reminder of the entirety of God’s Word (Tanakh and B’rit Chadashah), as well as Yeshua, “the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). When the Torah goes out into the congregation, you are invited to come out into the aisles. When it passes by you, you are welcome (but not obligated) to reach out with your Bible or Siddur, touch the mantle of the Torah Scroll, and then bring your Bible or Siddur to your lips as a sign of love and devotion to the L-rd. This is an application of Psalm 119:103, which calls G-d's word "sweet as honey to the lips." You are encouraged to continually face the Torah Scroll as it makes its way around the sanctuary and back up to the bimah.

Can my children participate in Parshah Partners?

After the Torah is returned to the ark, we call up our “Parshah Partners.” This is a time for the children to answer questions, discuss, and interact concerning the weekly Torah reading, as well as to be prayed over prior to being dismissed for Jr. Shabbat. Any child age 3-11 is invited to come forward and participate … even if he or she has not yet studied the parshah!

What is the Mourner’s Kaddish that is recited at the end of the service?

The Mourner’s Kaddish is a prayer traditionally recited by those mourning the loss of a close family member. The beauty of the prayer is that it never mentions death or sadness; rather, it is packed full of words that exalt G-d. By praying it, we publicly affirm that even in the midst of sadness and loss, we will not lose faith in G-d’s sovereignty, power, and goodness. Feel free to stand during the Mourner’s Kaddish if you are mourning the loss of a loved one.

Step Three: Getting Connected

How can I meet people?

Join us after services for oneg. “Oneg” literally means “delight,” and it is a time to schmooze, enjoy some light refreshments, and get to know people.

How can I learn about upcoming events?

Sign up for our eNews letter. 

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