Temple Sinai Welcomes You! Our Doors Are Wide Open!
Yours, mine, ours: Every couple begins with two individuals from different backgrounds. Reform Judaism has made a commitment to welcoming interfaith couples into congregations, embracing them and their children and offering support and education to their extended families. Each interfaith love story is unique, but many of them share common themes and concerns.
I am Jewish; my partner is not. Are we welcome as a couple to attend worship services in the Jewish community?I am not Jewish. Are there parts of the service reserved only for Jews?I don’t read Hebrew. How can I possibly follow the service?What is the best way to learn more about Judaism? I don’t want to take a “conversion” class.I want to learn more! Is there a Judaism 101 course offered by the synagogue?Do I have to be Jewish to belong to Temple? Do I have to be Jewish to serve on a committee or on the Board?Will I be pressured to convert if we join a synagogue?If a Jew marries a non-Jew, what are the children?So if religious identity involves making a choice, how do we choose? Who should make the decision?We are considering enrolling our child in a religious school. Are parents who are not Jews welcome to participate in religious school classrooms and events?Can my non-Jewish partner be buried in a local Jewish cemetery?I have questions that do not appear in this brochure. How can I learn more?
I am Jewish; my partner is not. Are we welcome as a couple to attend worship services in the Jewish community?
Yes! The prophet Isaiah said: “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” (Isaiah 56:7) We know from the Torah that from the very earliest days, there have been individuals who lived with the Jewish community but who were not themselves Jewish.
Please join us! Temple Sinai hosts Shabbat worship services on Friday evening at 8.00 p.m. and on Saturday morning at 10.00 a.m. Additionally, there are monthly Shabbat activities for young families.
I am not Jewish. Are there parts of the service reserved only for Jews?
You are welcome at all regular services in the synagogue and, of course, at any life-cycle events to which you are invited (for example, a wedding). Temple Sinai has its own specifications regarding who may lead services and perform certain roles, but you are welcome to participate in everything that is done or read by the whole congregation at a service. If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to ask our clergy or lay leaders.
I don’t read Hebrew. How can I possibly follow the service?
Temple Sinai uses both English and Hebrew in our worship services and we provide English translations for many of the Hebrew prayers and readings. These translations convey the meaning of the prayers.
It is perfectly acceptable to read only the parts of the service with which you feel comfortable or to just sit and listen. If you need help finding the place in the prayer book, simply ask someone nearby. Temple members want visitors to feel welcome and at ease during services.
What is the best way to learn more about Judaism? I don’t want to take a “conversion” class.
One of the best ways to learn about Judaism is to attend activities at the synagogue. Temple Sinai offers many adult education sessions. Worship services are also a great opportunity to learn about Judaism. Our clergy are happy to meet with you to answer your questions and explore Judaism together.
I want to learn more! Is there a Judaism 101 course offered by the synagogue?
Reform congregations in Toronto join together to offer a year-long course entitled the Jewish Information Class (JIC). The classes cover such topics as Jewish ideas about God, Torah and other Jewish texts, how to celebrate the holidays and Jewish life-cycle events. Hebrew is also taught each week. A practice Passover seder or a Shabbat event is often featured. Such classes provide you with an opportunity to pose your own questions about Jewish life, belief and practice. As part of the experience, students are asked to attend Shabbat services regularly in order to become a part of the community.
Couples are asked to take the JIC course together. Each student or couple in the class has a mentoring rabbi to sponsor them. The clergy of Temple Sinai regularly sponsor students. Temple Sinai also hosts a support group for JIC students so that they can process their experience with peers. Students are asked to register at their earliest convenience as class size is limited. The class cycle begins in September, and a separate class begins in January. The JIC course is meant to be a committed year of study.
While some of those who take JIC classes may be considering conversion, many take them for other reasons. The classes can be particularly helpful to those who are not Jewish themselves but are considering raising a Jewish child and to those who wish to be more comfortable at Jewish family events, such as a Passover seder.
If you are interested in taking the JIC course, please make an appointment to see one of our clergy members.
Do I have to be Jewish to belong to Temple? Do I have to be Jewish to serve on a committee or on the Board?
Temple Sinai includes interfaith couples as members as part of family memberships. We welcome your participation on committees and in other facets of congregational life.
However, there are restrictions when it comes to leadership or serving on the Temple Board. Feel free to ask our executive director Rayner Conway any questions you have about membership and participation or call the temple office and request to be directed to the proper person.
Will I be pressured to convert if we join a synagogue?
The Jewish community takes delight in welcoming those who choose to embrace Judaism as their own religion. Our Sages however, have made it very clear that a conversion is not valid if it results from any pressure or coercion. You are welcome in Reform synagogues as a friend of the Jewish people. You do not have to convert.
If a Jew marries a non-Jew, what are the children?
Traditional Jewish law says that membership in the Jewish people is matrilineal, that is, passed through the mother. Therefore, matrilineal descent means that if the mother is a Jew, the children are automatically Jewish, too; but if the father is the Jewish parent, the children will need to formalize their Judaism. Our clergy can explain the steps involved.
So if religious identity involves making a choice, how do we choose? Who should make the decision?
Children depend on their parents to teach them about identity in many areas of life. Interfaith couples must make this decision for themselves and their children. It is our experience that children who are given roots in one tradition are more likely to feel a secure sense of belonging. Children who are raised in both traditions too often feel that they do not truly belong in either community. This is a highly personal decision for parents to make and should be approached with respect for both traditions. Often couples find it helpful to contend with these issues in a facilitated manner. For help, please contact one of our clergy for a referral to our member specialist.
Many interfaith couples have chosen to raise their children as Jews, and the Reform Movement welcomes them and their children. In those families, non-Jewish parents often play a key role in providing for their children’s Jewish education and in creating a Jewish home environment. If you have decided to raise your children as Jews, contact Temple Sinai as early as possible to find out what support programs and which people are available to assist you in learning about Judaism and raising your Jewish children.
We are considering enrolling our child in a religious school. Are parents who are not Jews welcome to participate in religious school classrooms and events?
Jewish tradition puts a high value on family life. We encourage both parents to be involved in their child’s religious school experience and we welcome your participation. A number of our religious school programs are designed for family participation.
If we decide to raise our children Jewish, can the non-Jewish parent be involved in life-cycle events such as Bar/Bat Mizvah?
Yes, both parents are respected as full partners in raising their children. Though the non-Jewish parent cannot participate in some of the rituals (e.g., an aliyah), both parents and grandparents are welcome to be on the bima to support and celebrate their children and grandchildren. Non Jewish relatives are often invited to open and close the Torah ark. If you have more specific questions, please feel free to speak with our clergy.What about the non-Jewish grandparents? Can they be part of my Jewish child’s life?
Yes! A child who knows his or her grandparents is a fortunate child. All grandparents are welcome to attend services and events at the synagogue and your child’s religious school. Shabbat dinner on Friday nights constitutes a special time for family gatherings that can include grandparents. Grandparents can share family stories, customs and jokes. A child’s relationship with a grandparent is a treasure and should be nurtured.
Can my non-Jewish partner be buried in a local Jewish cemetery?
Yes! Temple Sinai has made provisions for the burial of interfaith couples at Lambtom Royal York Jewish Cemetery.
I have questions that do not appear in this brochure. How can I learn more?
Our doors are always open! Each member of the Temple Sinai team would value meeting with you. Please feel free to make an appointment with any of our senior staff who are listed on the back cover.
Temple Sinai Congregation of Toronto 210 Wilson Avenue Toronto, Ontario M5M 3B1 P: 416.487.4161 F: 416.487.5499
Programs416.487.4161 ext. email@example.com