“My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”
(Isaiah 56:7) Inscription on the bema of University Synagogue
University Synagogue has, over its many decades, cultivated an atmosphere of warmth and welcome to all who enter its doors. The inscription on our bema, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” (Isaiah 56:7) eloquently sets forth our guiding principle.
Our clergy and congregants consider it a privilege to perform the mitzvot of ahavat ger (loving the stranger) and keruv (drawing near all who are far). We ourselves are a community of Jews by birth, Jews by choice, those in the process of conversion, those who are still deciding whether conversion might be the right choice for them (now or in the future), and those who, along with the Jewish members of their family or partnership, have been embraced by our congregation.
University Synagogue is a Reform congregation that is committed to building vibrant, inclusive congregational communities. We celebrate and cherish Jewish history, traditions, music, and culture. We have a deep commitment, as well, to tikkun olam (repairing the world), and our congregants consider community service, social action, and environmental sensitivity to be sacred duties. We love being Jewish, and we hope that the joy that we derive from our religion and our traditions will infuse all who join us at the synagogue.
Frequently Asked Questions:
My spouse/partner is Jewish and I am not. If we join will I be welcomed at University Synagogue?
Yes! All family members are warmly welcomed at University Synagogue. At all times, alone or in the company of your family, you are welcome within our doors.
Do you have other interfaith families at University Synagogue?
Yes. University Synagogue has many couples and families who have one Jewish partner. We welcome all individuals who come in search of a sacred community, education, and uplift. At University Synagogue, these individuals are warmly welcomed. Their presence enriches us all. Their enthusiasm is infectious. They and their families are part of the bedrock of our synagogue; many of our Preschool volunteers, Mitzvah day food sorters, Torah-study commentators, Shabbat evening greeters, and even some Synagogue Board members, have not (yet) chosen to convert to Judaism. But they remain valued members of our congregation. We are grateful for their presence.
Will my child(ren) be considered Jewish if one us is not Jewish?
The Reform Movement recognizes patrilineal as well as matrilineal descent, meaning that the children of either the Jewish parent (mother or father) are Jewish when they are raised and educated as Jews. There are many children in our Early Childhood Learning Center and our Religious School who have one Jewish parent. Our Religious School welcomes all such children, equally. The presence of other religions in some students’ extended families is a commonplace here. Because of this, and also because of the sensitivity and special training of our wonderful teachers, issues of a child’s interfaith roots do not give rise to strain or discord. Our Religious School classrooms are welcoming and free of all prejudices.
Will my non-Jewish partner be able to participate in our children’s bar/bat mitzvah?
Yes. The entire family is included in the celebration including the child’s Jewish and non-Jewish grandparents. Further discussion as to the various roles will be discussed during the family meetings with our clergy.
If we join University Synagogue, will my non-Jewish partner be considered a full member?
Yes!!! When a family or a couple joins University Synagogue all immediate family members are considered full members. They can attend services, attend classes and participate in synagogue programs and holiday celebrations, and have a role in our synagogue committee structure. We encourage our interfaith members to attend synagogue events and services as a family. Sharing Jewish liturgy, history, traditions, music, food, and culture can draw families together in a very beautiful way. Family unity is fostered here at University Synagogue, with unsurpassed music, great food, and Israeli dancing for all generations to enjoy together.
Are your services all in Hebrew? If I don’t read or speak Hebrew can I still attend?
Our prayer books have Hebrew, transliteration into English and an English translation of the prayer. Throughout the service the clergy will read or sing prayers in English and in Hebrew, but the most important part of prayer is the one that comes from the heart. The pages will always be announced so that you will be able to follow along with the entire congregation. We have also created a Shabbat Service Navigator which will help explain the various parts of the service.
I have more questions. How can I learn more?
Call any of our clergy; Rabbi Feinstein, Cantor Frailich, Rabbi Simonds at 310-472-1255 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org. We also have an active Outreach committee comprised of our congregants who are here for you.