We are delighted to welcome you to Hampstead Synagogue whether your visit is for a particular celebration or you have moved into the area and are looking to join a local synagogue. You can be assured of a warm welcome, whatever the occasion or event.
Perhaps you are familiar with Jewish practice elsewhere but new to Modern Orthodox Judaism, or perhaps your visit will be your first time in a synagogue. This page, along with our guide, aims to offer a few explanations about what to expect at a Shabbat morning service at Hampstead Synagogue and to help you to feel comfortable while you are with us. If you would find it helpful, we would be more than delighted to sit you with one of our existing members and suggest you contact our Community Manager in the synagogue office to let her know you are coming.
Members of our security team will be on the door and will be pleased to answer any questions and to direct you into the synagogue. Please take a copy of the siddur (prayer book), along with a Chumash for the Torah reading (don’t worry if you can’t read Hebrew – prayers are written in both Hebrew and English). Men are requested to wear a kippah (skull cap) and we have some spares in the vestibule if you do not have your own. As a Modern Orthodox synagogue, men and women sit separately with men sitting downstairs and women sitting upstairs in the gallery. There is however a disabled seating area for women downstairs – just ask a member of the security team to direct you to the appropriate door.
We invite members of the community (men or women) to give a short summary of the day’s Torah reading (sedra) just before the Sefer Torah (Scroll) is taken from the Ark. As the Sefer is taken in procession around the congregation, some congregants will bow to the Sefer Torah or touch it with their Tallit or Siddur to show respect as it goes around the room. It is customary to face the Sefer Torah as it processes around the synagogue.
The Rabbi will normally give his sermon just before the additional service (musaph). If there is a Bar/Bat Mitzvah he will also address that young person directly, as he/she takes on the responsibility of becoming an adult member of the Jewish community.
Once the service is over, the community is invited into the Community Centre for Kiddush. Although the tables are laid, please do not eat or drink anything until the Chazzan or Rabbi makes kiddush (blessings over wine and bread).
We hope you will enjoy talking with members of the congregation, friends and family in this very sociable conclusion to the Shabbat morning service.
You will find more information about the service here.