Synagogue Etiquette

What's wrong with this setup? It's obvious... James needs a yarmulke.

  • Services begin at the time noted; please try to arrive promptly and be seated. [Candy's note: "Jewish time" is infamous; during normal Sabbath functions virtually everybody is fashionably late. Please don't do this at the wedding.]
  • All men are asked to wear a head covering while in the synagogue building... Married women are expected to cover their heads as well in the sanctuary. Head coverings are provided for everyone. [Please note that this includes non-Jewish males of any age. Widows have the option of wearing head coverings, either hats or lace coverings provided onsite.]
  • Talitot (prayer shawls) are provided and must be worn by all adult Jewish males above Bar Mitzvah age. [If you're not Jewish this doesn't apply, but the corellary is to please try not to wear a garment with four distinct corners, like the Tallit shawl, without a specific religious reason.]
  • Persons entering the sanctuary must dress in a conservative manner. [Specifically, in addition to not coming dressed for a Betazoid wedding, this involves covering your shoulders. Open-toed shoes, such as sandals, are all right.]
  • The use of cameras, telephones, handbag or carrying cases as well as smoking is strictly prohibited in the synagogue on Shabbat and Holidays [and weddings. Weddings, as solemn occasions, are subject to many of the restrictions of the Jewish Sabbath. Basically, don't carry items into the sanctuary unless they're needed for your health and welfare. No photography please. Professional photography will be done through the door of the sanctuary.]
  • Ushers are available to assist you with any questions or needs as well as assure the smooth flow of worship. Please do not hesitate to call upon them.



    More notes:

  • Congregation Agudath Achim is primarily a "family seating" shul, and men and women are welcome to sit together. There are also separate seating provisions.
  • Head covering for everyone is provided.
  • Please don't bring food into the synagogue.
  • Kids are welcome in the sanctuary.
  • Notice the little boxes hung diagonally on the door frames? These are mezuzot, Biblical passages written on tiny scrolls and rolled inside a protective cover. The letter shin is written on them, alluding to the totality and oneness of G-d (the Hebrew word for one, starting with shin, is Sh'ma.) Observant Jews indirectly kiss the mezuzah out of respect by touching the cover with their right hand (regardless of dominant hand) and putting their fingers to their lips.
  • If you have any questions or concerns please email us as soon as possible. We'd like to make the synagogue experience comfortable and memorable for everyone.



    Jordan Wagner's The Synagogue Survival Kit is an excellent in-depth reference. While it doesn't provide any quick overviews, it ably tells the complete when, how and why of synagogue ritual and etiquette.

    Adapted from a publication by Freehold Jewish Center. Reproduced with kind permission.