GUIDE TO SERVICES
By Rev. Dr. Louis C. Gerstein
Entering the Synagogue
The synagogue is a place of holiness where we come for inspiration and spiritual stimulation, a "makom kadosh," where we stand in God's presence.
"Know before Whom you stand," are the words inscribed atop the Ark containing the Torah scrolls. Upon entering the synagogue it is customary for one to bow and to recite words in Hebrew, a translation of which is: "Lo, in Your abundant love I enter Your House; in reverence to You I bow towards Your holy temple." In this way we help evoke within ourselves the feeling of reverence that should be ours as we enter a house of worship. Similarly, as we leave the synagogue, we do not go out with our back to the Ark. As we approach the doors to leave we turn about momentarily, facing the Ark, bow and say: "Lord, lead me in Your righteousness ... make Your path straight before me." The sense of dedication to religious principles should not leave as we depart from the house of worship but should remain in our hearts always.
Attire and Decorum
The rule of proper attire in keeping with the dignity of a religious service is observed by men, women and children. A suitable head covering is worn at all times in the synagogue. At services taking place in the morning, the Tallith, is worn by all males. Since worship is a deep inward expression and requires sincerity of heart and spirit there should be no conversation during the service, but complete attention should be given to the recitation of the prayers and the reading from the Torah scroll.
Congregational Participation at Services
From earliest days, our services emphasized the participation of all in chanting the prayers. The congregation's participation continues to be an important feature of our services.