Beth Israel Synagogue in Wallingford will host an open house the weekend of September 8-10, to give prospective members a chance to experience its variety of services and programming prior to the high holidays.
“We’re an intimate congregation,” says synagogue President Phyllis Gordon. “We’re always trying to provide our members with a rich Jewish experience that nourishes the mind, the body and the soul. And the best way to learn about us is to participate. That’s what this weekend is all about.”
The weekend begins Friday evening, September 8, with Shabba services at 6 pm, followed by an ice cream oneg. On Saturday, September 9, Shabbat morning services begin at 9 am. Beth Israel uses its own siddur that draws on elements from all three of American Judaism’s major movements, together with prayers and reflections written by the rabbi and members of the congregation. “Our services contain a lot of singing,” says Rabbi Bruce Alpert. “The more voices we have, the more meaningful our prayers become.”
Torah Study follows the service at around 10 am.
“Torah study really is the heart of who we are,” says Rabbi Alpert. “We use both ancient and modern Jewish texts to try and plumb the depths of the weekly portion. The discussions are almost always stimulating, which is why our study has been going strong for 16 years now. Or maybe it’s the lox and bagels.”
On Sunday morning, September 10, 11 am to noon, kids may experience Beth Israel’s Hebrew school taught by Beth Israel Education Director Marcy Thomaswick. “Our focus in the Hebrew school is on growth, on getting kids comfortable in a synagogue and helping them to be proud of their Jewish identities.”
On Sunday afternoon at 3 pm we will enjoy a screening of Ushpizin, an Israeli film that focuses on holiday themes of faith, repentance, relationship and starting over. Plus, all the freshly-popped popcorn you can eat!
“We are a small, 125-year-old congregation,” says Rabbi Alpert. “We are always mindful of our traditions, and always seeking to make those traditions engaging for our members.”