First Time Visitors
For First Time Visitors
PJTC welcomes students and other visitors, and we invite you to participate with us in our religious services. We hope this introduction will provide you with the information you need to understand, feel comfortable, and get the most from your visit.
PRAYER SERVICES AND BOOKS:
As Jews, we pray directly to God, without an intermediary such as a minister or priest. The Rabbi, meaning "teacher," leads the services, announces which prayers are being said, provides explanations, and tells the congregants which prayers should be said while standing. If the Rabbi is unavailable, a lay member of the congregation will lead the services. The prayer books are written in Hebrew and have English translations for each prayer. Some books also have transliteration, i.e., Hebrew written in Roman letters. Since Hebrew reads from right to left, the books will appear to open from the wrong direction, but the pages are numbered so you will be able to follow the services.
TYPES OF SERVICES:
There are three types of services at PJTC each week, and you may attend any of them. While all services contain the same
principle elements, there are some differences in the form and specific prayers. The Jewish Sabbath begins at sunset each Friday and concludes at
sunset each Saturday. Therefore, the Sabbath services occur on Friday evening and Saturday morning. Visitors are encouraged to participate in the services, including the refreshments and/or meals following them.
Friday evening services begin at 8:00 PM, last 60 to 90 minutes, and are followed by an "Oneg Shabbat," a reception starting with blessings over wine and bread, and continuing with refreshments.
Saturday morning services begin at 9:00 AM and last about 3 hours. The service is followed by the blessings over wine and bread, and refreshments or a buffet lunch in the Social Hall.
Sunday morning minyan is a service held from 9:00 to 10:00 AM. It is an opportunity for people to say the Mourner's Kaddish, the special prayer recited on the anniversary of a loved one's death, in the presence of the Jewish community.
CUSTOMS AND PRACTICES TO BE AWARE OF:
As in religious services of all faiths, there are certain customs and practices we follow. Most of them are required by Jewish law, and we appreciate your also observing them while at the Temple. (While you may be visiting in order to observe and learn, the synagogue is not a museum, and congregants are there to worship. Therefore, it may be offensive or disruptive if you do not respect the following.)
When attending services, please dress modestly (e.g., no mini skirts, short shorts, or sleeve-less blouses or shirts). Boys and men are asked to cover their heads as a sign of respect in the Sanctuary by wearing kippot (also known as yarmulkes or skullcaps). They are available in the foyer. Women may also wish to cover their heads, but it is not required. You'll notice that Jewish men and some women wear a Tallit (prayer shawl) during services where the Torah is being read, but since that serves a religious purpose, non-Jews do not do so.
Observant Jews do not work, conduct business, or create anything during the Sabbath, observing it as a complete day of rest. Therefore, while in the Temple on the Sabbath, please do not write or take notes, use cell phones or other electronic devices, use a camera or take pictures, or smoke (actually, the entire synagogue is tobacco-free at all times).
SPECIAL NOTE FOR STUDENTS:
We understand that you may have an assignment to write a paper on what you observe and experience. Please wait until after you leave the Temple before you write down your observations. While you are at the Temple, feel free to ask the Rabbi, ushers, or congregants any questions about the services or Judaism. (Please remember that there is a wide range of knowledge and understanding about Judaism, and varying degrees of religious observance among Jews. Therefore, you may wish to clarify whether their answers reflect the personal beliefs and practices of the individuals you talk with, or whether they are universally accepted within Judaism.) The web site myjewishlearning.com is especially useful in getting explanations and obtaining information about Judaism.
SPECIAL NOTE FOR CLASSES OR GROUPS:
When you call the office, please let them know you'd like to attend as a group. If possible, we'll arrange for someone to talk with the group after the services, to provide additional information about the Sanctuary and Judaism, and to answer questions.
Throughout history, Jews have remained firmly rooted in Jewish tradition, even as we learned much from our encounters with other cultures. Nevertheless, since its earliest days, Reform Judaism has asserted that a Judaism frozen in time is an heirloom, not a living fountain. The great contribution of Reform Judaism is that it has enabled the Jewish people to introduce innovation while preserving tradition, to embrace diversity while asserting commonality, to affirm beliefs without rejecting those who doubt and to bring faith to sacred texts without sacrificing critical scholarship.
Reform Judaism affirms the central tenets of Judaism - God, Torah and Israel - even as it acknowledges the diversity of Reform Jewish beliefs and practices. We believe that all human beings are created in the image of God, and that we are God's partners in improving the world. Tikkun olam — repairing the world — is a hallmark of Reform Judaism as we strive to bring peace, freedom and justice to all people.
Reform Jews accept the Torah as the foundation of Jewish life containing God's ongoing revelation to our people and the record of our people's ongoing relationship with God. We see the Torah as God inspired, a living document that enables us to confront the timeless and timely challenges of our everyday lives.
In addition to our belief that Judaism must change and adapt to the needs of the day to survive and our firm commitment to Tikkun Olam, the following principles distinguish Reform Jews from other streams of Judaism in North America.
Reform Jews are committed to the principle of inclusion, not exclusion. Since 1978 the Reform Movement has been reaching out to Jews-by-choice and interfaith families, encouraging them to embrace Judaism. Reform Jews consider children to be Jewish if they are the child of a Jewish father or mother, so long as the child is raised as a Jew.
Reform Jews are committed to the absolute equality of women in all areas of Jewish life. We were the first movement to ordain women rabbis, invest women cantors and elect women presidents of our synagogues.
Reform Jews are also committed to the full participation of gays and lesbians in synagogue life as well as society at large.