We are affiliated with the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the association of Conservative congregations in North America.
The Huntington Jewish Center Warmly Welcomes INTERFAITH FAMILIES
My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples… Isaiah 56:7
The Huntington Jewish Center is fully committed to a tradition of Keruv (outreach and welcoming) to all who seek the spiritual comfort found within our sacred community. We warmly welcome interfaith families and support your decision to be involved in the Jewish religion and/or raise your children in the Jewish faith. At all times we respect and appreciate thoseof other faiths, and encourage them to participate in as much synagogue life as they chose within the framework of Conservative Judaism.
We have among our membership, a growing number of supportive, non-Jewish spouses and parents. They take advantage of, and contribute to our spiritual, cultural, educational, community service, and recreational initiatives.
We realize that many questions arise when choosing a synagogue community. We hope this brochure will answer these questions and you will consider choosing the HJC as your spiritual home.
The HJC welcomes both Jewish and other family members to join with us at all services. Weekday, Shabbat (Sabbath), and holiday services are open to members of all faiths, regardless of background or faith tradition. While much of our service is in Hebrew, all of our prayer books include English translation, and transliteration as well. Shabbat services include a Torah dialogue or sermon in English and all directions, discussions, and announcements are conducted in English. All worshippers are encouraged to offer silent prayers and thoughts of their own during any part of the service.
At the HJC, we recognize that children need to connect to God at their own spiritual level and we offer weekly Shabbat services as well as holiday services aimed specifically to their age group. Babysitting is available to parents with very young children.
At the end of Shabbat services, everyone meets for a light Kiddush lunch, where we have the opportunity to come together socially as a community.
We also offer special programs that involve the whole family such as our family friendly Friday night and Saturday morning services, Friday Night Live service where music takes center stage in our prayer service, and Havdallah Under The Stars, where we mark the end of the Sabbath by conducting a brief service under the night sky.
Baby Naming Ceremonies
Baby namings for girls take place in our synagogue, while boys have their baby naming at the time of their ritual circumcision. When a baby is named in the synagogue, it is traditional for one of the Jewish parents to be given an Aliyah (called to the Torah). Traditionally, only a Jew takes an Aliyah because the Aliyah recognizes the particular covenant between God and the Jewish people. After the Jewish parent takes the Aliyah, the other parent (Jewish or not Jewish) is also invited to the Bimah (pulpit) for the Misheberach prayer. This prayer asks God for blessings for the child being named. At that time, the child is given a Hebrew name which usually includes “daughter/son” of [parents’s names]. Both parent’s names may be used in the blessing in English.
Children Attending Our Nursery School
The Early Childhood Education Center fosters the social and emotional development of our children in a loving supportive environment. We encourage a love of Jewish tradition and rituals, through age appropriate activities. Our children celebrate Shabbat (Sabbath) every Friday afternoon with prayers over wine and challah (bread). They hear the sound of the shofar before Rosh Hashanah. They eat a meal in the sukkah (temporary dwelling) during the holiday of Sukkot. They help light Chanukah candles. They passionately boo the tyrant Haman on Purim. They talk about Pharoah and the exodus from Egypt at model seders (Passover meals).
All children whose families want them to share these experiences, including interfaith families, are welcome at the Early Childhood Education Center at HJC .
Children Attending our Religious School
Children in kindergarten and first grade attend religious school on Sunday mornings. In second through seventh grades, they attend on Sunday mornings and Tuesday afternoons. All children whose families want them to have a Jewish education are welcome in our religious school and may participate in all of its activities.
At a Bar/Bat Mitzvah at the HJC, the child will participate in reading from the Torah and chanting the Haftarah, and will be called to the Torah for an Aliyah. The celebration of a Jewish child becoming Bar/Bat Mitzvah is an important rite of passage, as the child becomes an adult in the eyes of the community. The HJC welcomes the participation of the child’s entire family in this meaningful service. Both parents may present the tallit (prayer shawl) to the child on the bimah (pulpit). At the conclusion of the service, both of the child’s parents and all grandparents, regardless of religious faith, are invited to the Bimah as the Bar/Bat Mitzvah student recites the blessings over the wine and challah. In sum, the participation of the parent of another faith in the celebration of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah of their child is very similar to the participation of a Jewish parent, in recognition of their support and involvement in enabling their child to reach this day.
Participation in Synagogue Life
When a family/couple joins the Huntington Jewish Center, spouses/partners of other faiths are welcomed and encouraged to participate on all levels including our committees, social action initiatives, theatrical productions, attending classes and holiday events. Our goal is to welcome and include all members regardless of their religious upbringing.
Conversion is a personal decision made only after heartfelt consideration. There is no requirement or pressure from the clergy or membership to convert to Judaism. We are grateful for the support given to the Jewish spouse/partner and the participation at the Huntington Jewish Center. If and when the decision is made to convert to Judaism, our Rabbi will guide you through the conversion process and the congregation will joyfully celebrate with your family.
This brochure provides only a taste of the richness of our Jewish heritage as it is honored and celebrated by our congregation. We invite you to learn more. You are welcomed to contact our spiritual leader, Rabbi Neil Kurshan at email@example.com or at 631-423-5355, or Elaine Kleinmann, our Membership Committee chairperson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
HJC welcomes all levels of participation by interfaith families. We encourage questions and are happy to discuss any issues or answer any questions about involvement with our community, or about Judaism and the Jewish people. We encourage your interest. In this spirit, we believe we can all learn together and grow as a welcoming community.
Quotes from interfaith HJC members
While I have always felt accepted at HJC, it was even more important to me that my child felt accepted. Sophie has felt completely comfortable at the religious school and by the HJC community from the very beginning. Betty Borden
I was initially concerned that I would not be welcomed at a Conservative place of worship, but from the beginning, I have been warmly received by Rabbi Kurshan and the HJC community. I have learned over the years that with regard to all life cycle events, both happy and sad, the HJC community shows up to lend a hand. I have never felt like an outsider. Patricia Schoeffler
My strongest feeling of belonging was at my children’s Bat Mitzvahs. My family members who were not Jewish, were invited to stand with our children on the Bimah (pulpit). This was very meaningful to me. Kim Willen
You do not have to be a regular synagogue service attendee to be a part of the HJC community. There are many avenues of belonging and feeling like a part of the community. You can be on the Religious School Board, a member of Sisterhood, or the Men’s Club, or you can do good deeds to help the less fortunate in our area. Kim Willen