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Temple Beth Shalom

  • Will I be welcome?

Absolutely! Temple Beth Shalom warmly welcomes all races, religions, children, interfaith families, individuals with special needs, and LGBTQ individuals.

  • What is Conservative Judaism?

Judaism consists of three major denominations: Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox. The Conservative movement is appropriately named because it strives to “conserve” the thousands of years of Jewish tradition in ways that apply conditions of modern life to observances and practices.

For more information on Conservative Judaism, please visit Faith Street.

  • Do you keep kosher?

Yes, we do! Please don’t bring any food into the synagogue without the Rabbi’s approval.

For more information on Kosher foods, please visit my Jewish Learning.

Shabbat Services

  • What should I do to be ready for services?

Men (optional for women) of all ages and faiths should make sure there is a kippah (yarmulke/head covering) on their head. Also, Jewish men (optional for women) of Bar Mitzvah age should wear a tallit (the four cornered garment required for morning prayer). On Shabbat, cell phones should be turned off. Electronic gadgets should not be used in the building because of the Sabbath. Finally, make sure you have a prayer book and Chumash (Torah book) in the pew in front of you. You are ready!

  • What are the two books in the pews?

The prayer book (Siddur in Hebrew) is a red book entitled Siddur Lev Shalem. Remember that Hebrew is written from right to left so the book opens “backwards.” Reading Hebrew can take years to learn because it has a totally different alphabet and vowel structure. Luckily many of the pages in our prayer book have transliteration, where the Hebrew words are written using the English alphabet.

The big maroon book is called a Chumash. Chumash comes from the Hebrew word Chamesh, meaning five for the Five Books of Moses. This book contains the text of the Torah plus the Haftarot, associated reading from the book of Prophets.

Many of our melodies repeat and are quite catchy, so try to use the books, follow along and feel free to join in whenever you are ready!

  • What is the Torah?

The Torah is a handwritten scroll that contains the five books of Moses. The scroll is housed in the ark which is the large “box” at the head of the room. Out of respect, it is kept covered and adorned with silver when it is not being read or studied. The Torah is so important that we stand up when the Ark is open and when the Torah is lifted or carried.

Twice during our service, the Torah will be passed around the congregation. Out of a sign of respect, Jews touch the scroll’s cover with a tallit or Siddur, which is then kissed.

The Torah is read each week. Synagogues around the world will be reading the same portion we are reading here in Mahopac. On Shabbat morning there are eight sections to be read and blessings to be recited before and after each reading. Eight different people will be honored by being called up to recite the blessings before and after the reading. Torah reading is quite a difficult skill as there are no vowels or musical notes in the text. The reading needs to memorize the correct pronunciation and melody.

  • What is the mourner’s Kaddish?

Kaddish is a prayer that is recited numerous times throughout the day. Twice during the service, however, the kaddish is reserved for mourners. The kaddish is Aramaic and is about memory and remembrance. We remember our loved ones who have died (we do this on the yearly anniversary of their passing, called a yahrzeit) through this act of prayer. This deeply personal prayer can only be said with a group of ten or more Jewish adults so that the mourner is reminded that they are still surrounded by family, friends and their community.

  • What is Kiddush?

Kiddush is what everyone waits for… it is the time when we exit the sanctuary and enter our social hall for food and schmoozing. Kiddush actually refers to the specific blessing over the wine or juice which is said by all. Before you eat or drink at our Kiddush, make sure that the prayers over the wine and challah bread have been said (often time we will do them from the bimah in the sanctuary). Every Jewish event ends with food and our services are no exception!

  • What if I don’t believe in God?

Totally fine. We probably don’t believe in the God you don’t believe in too.

  • Do I have to be a member to come to service?

No! We’re looking forward to getting to know you

  • What do I wear?

Business casual is encouraged, but come as you are! Jeans or a suit, it’s all the same to us.

In Case of an Emergency or Death

  • What should I do if I’m sick and need help?

If it’s during regular business hours, call or email the TBS office or Rabbi Sarah (845) 628-6133, or If it’s after business hours, please email Rabbi Sarah.

  • What should I do if I have a death in the family?

If it’s during regular business hours, call or email the TBS office or Rabbi Sarah (845) 628-6133, or
If it’s after business hours, please email Rabbi Sarah.

You should also contact a funeral home.

a) Balsamo Family of Funeral Homes

b) Cargain Funeral Home

c) Joseph J. Smith Funeral Home

What if I have a different question?

Feel free to contact the TBS office with any additional questions you may have (845) 628-6133 or

Sun, June 16 2024 10 Sivan 5784