We at Temple Beth-El strive to be a warm, inclusive, welcoming spiritual home to all. Jews, Gentiles, people of color, members of the LGBTQ community, interfaith families, spiritual seekers, all are welcome here. “Beth-El” means “House of God.” We are all God’s children. All of our events and programs are open to everyone. We hope to see you soon!
Below are answers to commonly asked questions regarding Keruv and interfaith families:
Can my partner and I attend services if one of us is Jewish and the other is not Jewish?
Certainly! All are welcome to be a part of our worship services. Don’t be put off by the Hebrew: Our prayerbooks include an English translation of all our prayers, and a pamphlet with a phonetic rendering in English letters of our main prayers can be found in the bookrests in both the Kimerling Chapel and the main sanctuary for those who would like to sing along.
Is any special clothing required at the Temple?
Men are requested (but not required) to wear a kipa (headcovering), which serves as a reminder of God’s presence over us. Feel free NOT to wear it if it makes you uncomfortable. Kippot are found in a box by the entrance to the building.
Dress on the High Holidays in the Fall (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) tends to be more formal than the rest of the year: many men wear jacket and tie, and women dress to a similar level of formality. The rest of the year tends to be a little more informal. We ask visitors to follow “tasteful good sense” when coming to synagogue (clothing should be non-revealing, free of offensive language, etc.).
May I attend programs, events and classes offered at the Temple?
Of course. You are welcome to join our adult education classes, social action programs, holiday observances, social events and more. Whether “your thing” is prayer, learning, healing the world or having fun, we have something to offer you.
If we were to join TBE, is conversion necessary?
Our rabbi would be happy to explain what’s involved in conversion, but you’ll never be pressured to convert. God’s house is open to all. Contact TBE Executive Director Bob Greenberg for membership information.
Are there specific rituals reserved for Jewish people?
You don’t have to be Jewish to pray with us, offer English readings or prayers or come up on the bimah (the elevated section at the front of the Kimerling Chapel and sanctuary) at a life cycle event, such as a baby naming, bar/bat mitzvah or other special occasion. Only Jews may lead the prayer service, read from the Torah scroll or recite the blessings before and after reading from the Torah scroll.
Is circumcision (Brit Milah) or a Baby Naming at the synagogue possible?
Certainly! We welcome new children into a covenantal relationship between God and the Jewish people with a Brit Milah, or Bris (ritual circumcision) for boys (when they receive their Hebrew name) or a baby naming for girls. Our rabbi would be happy to help you plan these ceremonies. If the mother isn’t Jewish, Brit Milah is the first step in the conversion of a boy; baby naming for a girl is celebrated as the completion of her conversion rituals. Conversion of children in such a circumstance is a simple process. Our rabbi will gladly explain the details. All family members, Jewish or not, are welcome to participate in these ceremonies.
If we have a child by a surrogate mother or adopt, how is that perceived at the synagogue?
The Jewish tradition considers adoption one of the greatest acts of kindness a person can do. We welcome all adopted children, regardless of racial, ethnic, or religious background. Unless the birth mother is known to be Jewish, adopted children need to undergo conversion prior to a Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony (age 13).
As an interfaith couple, what is involved in wedding planning?
Weddings are always joyous occasions, and our rabbi is happy to meet with any couple considering marriage who are interested in discussing involvement in synagogue and Jewish life. While our rabbi can only officiate at marriages that are between two Jews, he’d be glad to discuss ways to incorporate Jewish elements into your ceremony or ways to bring Judaism into the home after the wedding.
If one of us is not Jewish, how does that affect meeting with the Rabbi?
It does not affect meeting with him at all. The rabbi enjoys meeting everyone connected to our synagogue, including non-Jewish spouses. Please contact the rabbi at any time to discuss any questions or concerns.
If a Jew and non-Jew wed, what is the status of the children?
Traditionally, Jewish law holds that Jewish status is transmitted matrilineally, that is by way of the mother. If the mother is Jewish, by birth or conversion, the child is Jewish. If the father is Jewish but the mother is not, the child would need to go through a fairly simple conversion process prior to celebrating a Bar/Bat Mitzvah.
Can our children attend class at the Religious School?
Yes! All children of intermarried members can attend TBE’s Religious School, regardless of which parent is Jewish. All children are treated equally, whether or not they have been converted if the mother isn’t Jewish.
What happens if there is a death in the family?
The Rabbi provides comfort and support to all mourners.
The Temple Beth-El community is here for you in times of need. In the event that a non-Jewish spouse affiliated with our congregation loses a loved one, our rabbi will be available for comfort and support. Non-Jewish spouses may be buried next to their spouse in the newer section of our cemetery. The rabbi is available to answer any questions you may have about Jewish burial and mourning practices.
May I participate in Adult Education?
Our adult education classes are all free and open to the public. All our welcome at our educational programs.
Where are additional Temple resources available?
A lot of information about our programs and resources can be found on our website. You can “like” our Facebook page and follow us for updates. Whether or not you’re a member, we’re happy to include on our synagogue email list to notify you of events and programs we offer. If you have additional questions or would like to discuss your specific situation, please contact our rabbi by email or by calling the TBE office at 205.933.2740. The Temple Beth-El community looks forward to welcoming you.
Contact the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs for more information on Keruv at www.fjmc.org.