Ahavas Chesed Congregation welcomes all individuals and families to be a part of our community.
We recognize that intermarried couples and their families may feel that they have
special circumstances and we seek to make all people feel welcome and comfortable in our
synagogue. We greatly appreciate the support that families provide their Jewish member(s) and
the Jewish community. We hope to see you at one of our services or events soon!
I am not Jewish, but my partner is. Can we attend services together?
Yes! Everyone is welcome to attend and participate in our Shabbat and holiday services. For those who cannot
read Hebrew, pamphlets with phonetic renderings of the prayers accompany the Hebrew-English
prayer books (siddurim) which are in the bookrests on the backs of the seats in both the chapel
and the sanctuary.
Must I wear any special clothing in the synagogue?
Gentlemen are politely requested to wear a Kipa (headcovering) which is a sign of respect before God. If this makes someone
uncomfortable he will not be pressured to do so. Ours is a relaxed synagogue. On the High
Holidays, men often wear jacket and tie and women wear something which is of similar
"dressiness". Throughout the year nearly any clothing is suitable. We request that people follow
the rules of tasteful good sense when coming to synagogue (no holes in clothing, no revealing
blouses, no offensive pictures or wording on T-shirts, etc.)
May I attend classes and events at the synagogue?
Yes! We invite you to participate in our adult education classes, social action programs, holiday observances, social events, and more. Within our congregation there are different levels of observance and participation.
Can I become a member of the synagogue?
Yes! We want our adult spouses to be part of our community. Any adult Jew and her/his partner would be considered members.
Will I be pressured to convert if we join Ahavas Chesed?
Our Rabbi is always happy to explore and explain conversion. However, we will never pressure you to convert. You are
welcome in our synagogue as a supporter of the Jewish people.
What about Services and Life Cycle celebrations in the synagogue? How can I participate in our family’s celebrations?
Your family is invited to worship and celebrate with us! We welcome both Jewish and non-Jewish family members to worship at all services. Weekday, Sabbath and holiday services are open to members of all faiths. Ahavas Chesed's sacred mission is to foster a sense of closeness between people, an awareness of the power of each of us to make the world holy and whole through action and intentionality, the centrality of having God in our lives and the essential import of Torah and Israel to Jewish life.
Honors as a household affiliated with Ahavas Chesed Congregation - You would be welcome to participate in our Torah service and we would be happy to honor you by:
*Being called to the pulpit (bimah) for a Baby Naming/Brit Milah ;
*Being called to the bimah for a child’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah;
*Offering a prayer to your child at a Bar/Bat Mitzvah;
*Being called to the bimah for a special occasion;
Owing to our Rabbi's interpretation of Jewish Law (Halachah) -only a Jewish person actually recites the prayer over the Torah scroll during the scriptural reading. Non-Jewish
spouses/partners would be standing next to their spouse/partner during that part of the ceremony and then would be welcome to fully participate in a prayer, presentation or other portions of the ceremony.
Can our child have a circumcision (Brit Milah) or Baby Naming?
Yes! Brit Milah, or "Bris" (ritual circumcision) is the rite though which a baby boy is welcomed into the Jewish community
and at which he receives his Hebrew name. A Naming is the ceremony during which a girl is welcomed into the Jewish community and at which she receives her Hebrew name. Rabbi Silberman will be happy to assist in the planning of these ceremonies and to participate in the celebration with you and your family. If the mother is not Jewish, the Rabbi will officiate at the Brit with the understanding that this is the first step in conversion of the baby boy, and will happily officiate at a girl’s Naming after a full conversion of the baby girl. The Rabbi can also suggest meaningful English readings to be offered at the ceremony by both the parents, and both sets of grandparents and other family members.
What happens if we adopt a child?
Adoption brings God's holiness into the world and adding children to our community is a blessing. We welcome and embrace adopted children of all racial and ethnic backgrounds. Like children of non-Jewish mothers, adopted children would need to undergo conversion. The Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony is an important rite of passage. As a Jewish child becomes a Jewish adult we share opportunities with all family members to participate in the service. On the morning of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah, Jewish and non-Jewish relatives may take part in the presentation of the tallit (prayer Shawl) and accompany Jewish family members in various honors on the bimah. During the service, both parents will be invited to share a blessing with their child, and to stand beside their child as s/he has an Aliyah to the Torah.
As a dual faith couple, what choices do we have in planning a wedding?
The union of a couple is always a celebratory event. Rabbi Silberman will be happy to meet with all couples contemplating marriage and will discuss opportunities for involvement in the synagogue and in Jewish life. In all Conservative congregations, weddings are performed only between two members of the Jewish faith. Conservative rabbis are not permitted to officiate at an interfaith civil ceremony. We recognize that some congregants and children of congregants will enter into interfaith marriages. Rabbi Silberman can assist the couple in exploring Judaism and ways to create a meaningful wedding ceremony. Rabbi Silberman is available to offer a special prayer, uniquely composed for each couple. This prayer is preferably offered prior to their actual wedding ceremony. Please contact Rabbi Silberman directly to arrange this special ceremony.
Is it difficult to meet with the Rabbi since one of us may be Christian?
No! Rabbi Silberman genuinely wants to meet all of the synagogue members and become better acquainted with them in order to offer support and to assist in building a greater sense of communal identity. All members are encouraged to contact Rabbi at any time to discuss any questions or concerns.
If a Jew marries a non-Jew, what are the children?
Jewish law says that membership in the Jewish people is matrilineal, that is, passed through the mother. Therefore, if the mother is a Jew (by birth or conversion) before any children are born then the children are automatically Jewish. If the father is Jewish but the mother is not, the child would need to go through a formal conversion process in order to become Bar or Bat Mitzvah.
Can our children attend Religious School?
Yes! All children of intermarried members can be included in our Religious School. All children are treated equally, whether or not they have been converted. We extend our gratitude to you for raising your children as Jews, as our children are our most precious blessing.
What if there is a death in our family?
The Rabbi is available for comfort and support to all mourners.
Our congregation will also be there 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. Judaism offers much in the way of mourning practices. Many Jewish traditions are universal in their ability to provide comfort at a time of loss. Non-Jewish spouses may be buried next to their spouse in the newer section of our Synagogue Cemetery. Rabbi Silberman will be available to explain any questions dealing with mourning traditions or cemetery procedures to any who may be interested. The rabbi is also available to discuss rituals and observances that may be helpful in a time of mourning.
May I take part in Adult Education?
One need not be Jewish to take advantage of the many educational opportunities offered by the synagogue. Everyone is welcome to our adult education programs and classes.
Where can I find additional resources?
If you have any further questions or would like to discuss your particular situation,
Rabbi Steven Silberman would be happy to meet with you.
Please contact him by calling the Synagogue office at (251) 343-6010 or by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Rabbi Silberman and our synagogue family want to meet you!