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Temple FAQ

I heard you have two campuses. That’s pretty fancy. But where are services?

Our weekday (M-Th), Shabbat, and holiday services (as well as many of our adult education classes and other programs) are held at our historic and inspiring Temple building, located at 3330 Grove Ave. in the heart of Richmond’s famed Museum District.

Our other campus, located at 601 N. Parham Road, houses our exceptional Jacob & Selma Brown Religious School, where we enrich our families’ Jewish lives with joyful and inspiring Jewish learning.  We also utilize our Religious School building for Sunday morning services as well as Temple meetings, programs, adult learning, and other special events.

What if I’m not a member? Can I still come to services? 

Of course. We’d love to have you. Services are always free and open to all, and we love to welcome guests! Our monthly Friday night Pre-Negs and weekly Saturday afternoon Kiddush lunches are always free and open to all. When there is a Friday night dinner, we’d be thrilled for you to join us.  To find out when the next dinner will be and to RSVP, call the office 804-355-3564.

What’s a “Pre-Neg”?

An opportunity for noshing and schmoozing before services on Friday night. The term is a riff on the Hebrew term “oneg Shabbat,” which means “enjoying Shabbat.” Many congregations have a reception following services on Friday nights filled with food, drink, and friends and call it an “oneg Shabbat.” We flip the script and have our “oneg Shabbat” before Friday night services; hence, “Pre-Neg.”

Are your services kid-friendly?

Absolutely.  We welcome kids of all ages! Our social, musical, and lively services are designed with the whole family in mind.  Our sanctuary is their sanctuary, too, and we love hearing the sounds of children laughing, singing, playing, and, yes, even crying, during worship.  Kids are frequently invited to join in various parts of services on both Friday nights and Saturday mornings. They are free to explore the sanctuary during services and even visit with the clergy on the bimah (where they might even get a special treat, if it’s cool with the parents). We also have designated play spaces in the sanctuary with toys, books, and games. For parents who like a little more structure, we feature regular Tot Shabbat services (designed for families with kids age 0-6).

What should I wear?

Most people dress "business casual",  but there are some who dress up, and some who wear jeans!  No matter what you wear,  you won't feel out of place!

What if I don’t believe in God? 

We like the way a Jewish organization in California called The Kitchen puts it: “Let’s not start with whether you believe in God or not. Let’s start with whether or not you want to do Jewish and be connected to a bunch of other people who are trying to do the same thing. We can get to the God thing later or never. The place to start should probably just be: ‘Do I want to do Jewish stuff?’”

What if I have no idea how to pray? 

Again, the folks at the The Kitchen put it perfectly: “If you are new to praying, or can’t read Hebrew, or don’t even know the difference between Shabbat and Shalom, just give it time. It is normal for it to be difficult in the beginning, like a yoga class would be if you had never taken yoga. If you just keep showing up and trying, you will begin to get it....If it’s too much to sing the words, just sing the melody to yourself. Or, rather than conquering the whole service, start by praying one prayer with intention or even a single word.”

I want to know the tunes. How can I learn the music? 

You can listen to our service music on our Music Page,  and we periodically hold classes and Learner’s Services in which we teach the melodies.  But the truly best way to learn our tunes is to come for Shabbat services as frequently as possible. You’ll pick it up more quickly than you think!

What if I / my girlfriend / boyfriend / Uncle Steve is not Jewish? 

We welcome anyone and everyone, regardless of religious background, who wants to do Jewish and be connected to others trying to do the same thing. We welcome you and everyone you love! The rest, as the Talmud says, is commentary.

Are you LGBT friendly? 

Of course. 

Are you affiliated with a movement or denomination?

We are proudly affiliated with the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the association of Conservative Jewish congregations in North America.

Conservative? What does that mean?

The “Conservative” in “Conservative Judaism” is about trying to conserve the values and practices of our beautiful ancient tradition even as we strive to make sure we’re fully in step with realities of the modern world. As a Conservative congregation, we’re all about fusing spirituality with social justice and yesterday’s wisdom with today’s insights. We’re taking an old tradition and making it relevant and alive.

That’s a terrible name for a movement.

 Yes, we know. As the Mishnah teaches, “Look not at the flask, but rather at its contents.”

I hated going to Religious School as a kid. How is yours different?

Our Jacob & Selma Brown Religious School is stimulating, interactive, and inspirational. With our nationally recognized curriculum, warm and nurturing learning environment, and stellar faculty, we make Jewish learning fun and meaningful for kids of all ages, helping our students grow into committed and thoughtful young Jewish adults. And, sure, we’ll kvel a bit: we think we have the most awesome, most mensch-y students in Richmond! Our Religious School is further from the Religious School of your youth than a hassid from a BLT. You can find out more here.

What if I’m a Grown-Up and want to learn more about Judaism? Do you have classes for me?

We are proud to be Richmond’s vital center for adult Jewish learning. We have classes for rookies and pros, seekers and skeptics. Find out about our current offerings here.

Do you do Weddings and Bar Mitzvahs?

Of course! And our clergy are the best in the biz (sorry, we’re kvelling again). But having our clergy officiate your lifecycle event (baby-naming, bris, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, wedding, funeral, shiva minyan) is a perk of being a member.

How do I find out more? 

Best thing to do is come check us out!  For our schedule of services, please call the office at 804-355-3564.

What if I am ready to join?  

We are happy to have you! Click here for information

Wed, July 24 2024 18 Tammuz 5784