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Overview of Services

Beth El offers a variety of different services and worship-related activities. These include:

Service and Activity Offerings


Daily Morning and Evening Minyan

Morning and evening minyan is held in the Levine-Shein Chapel each weekday and also held via Zoom. The morning minyan is held at 7:00 a.m. Monday through Friday, and at 8:45 a.m. on Sunday. The evening minyan is held at 5:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday.

Each minyan includes Kaddish for those in mourning and those observing yahrzeit and incorporates some English readings. We read Torah on Monday and Thursday mornings, as well as on Rosh Chodesh (the new month). At each service we read a list of names of those loved ones for whom yahrzeit is being observed. Our minyans are very welcoming to those who are saying Kaddish or simply want to sit in the comfort of a prayer community.

Friday Evening Services

Our Friday evening service begins at 5:45 p.m. It is held in the Levine-Shein Chapel every week, even when other special programming such as Shabbat Live! or Shabbat Under the Stars takes place. Periodically throughout the year there are also services at 7:30 p.m. that include programming or special music, such as Veteran's Shabbat, speakers or forums.

Shabbat Morning Services

A traditional service is held each Shabbat morning from 9:30 a.m. until noon. We are an egalitarian congregation and invite broad participation. Congregants frequently read Torah and, when there is no Bar or Bat Mitzvah, chant Haftarah. If you would like to participate in our services, please contact Rabbi Howard Sowalsky at (860) 233-9696. Children are also encouraged to participate in the sanctuary service by chanting Ashrei or other prayers. Please contact Rabbi Howard Sowalsky at (860) 233-9696 if you would like your children to participate. All children under the age of Bar/Bat Mitzvah are invited to the bima for Adon Olam at the end of the service.

What is appropriate dress for Shabbat?

Appropriate dress would include a suit, sport jacket and slacks, or dress/skirt (we tend to be more informal during warmer months). Individuals should refrain from wearing miniskirts and sleeveless, strapless or revealing clothes (even with a shawl). If you are attending an evening service, tuxedos are not considered appropriate.
Men and boys will need to wear a head covering (kippah) as a sign of respect. Women are not required to wear a head covering unless coming up to the Bima (pulpit) although at Beth El many women do wear a tallit and/or kippah. There is a basket of head coverings on the table near the Sanctuary.
If you expect to come up to the Bima (for an aliyah for example) dressing appropriately is especially important. Men who will be on the Bima must also wear a tallit. These are available just outside the Sanctuary.

Shabbat Mincha/Afternoon Service

We gather for Shabbat Mincha, the brief afternoon service, every Saturday at 12:15 pm. We read from the Torah, often honoring an upcoming Bar/Bat Mitzvah student or those with yahrzeit.

Services and Activities for Preschool Children

Parents and their youngest children are welcome to attend our main services on both Friday night and Shabbat morning. In addition, preschoolers and their parents can join us for Shababa on special Friday nights and Mazel Tots every Shabbat morning.

Shababa:  Kids age five and under experience the joy of Shabbat with dancing and singing with Rabbi Zerin, followed by a free child-friendly dinner. In summer months, we run in the sprinkler after dinner.

Mazel Tots, 11:00 a.m.:  Mazel Tots is the spot for kiddos on Shabbat mornings! Parent volunteers lead songs, prayers and stories. This program is geared for children from birth through kindergarten with their parents, but all are welcome. Please bring a small, kosher, nut-free snack for your child.

Services and Activities for School-Aged Children

Our weekly Shabbat Club makes it cool for kids @shul, starting at 11am each week. SC is for kids in grades 1-5. Songs, prayers, stories, games, snacks and more make Shabbat Club the place to be!

For more information about our children’s programs, please contact Rabbi Rachel Zerin at 860-233-9696.

Special Shabbat Services and Activities

Beth El offers different services and activities during the year:

Shabbat Under the Stars: an outdoor service preceded by a bar-b-que. Welcome Shabbat and schmooze with friends at this fun and festive evening, under the stars.

Special Adults’ Service: Once each month Beth El and our JCL (Jewish Association for Community Living) friends join together to explore the morning service through prayer and Torah, story, signs and songs. We follow with a kiddush luncheon.

Shabbat Yoga: Wear yoga clothes (yes, to synagogue!) and bring a mat if you have one. This all-levels class incorporates yoga poses and Hebrew prayers. Open to all (children too, if they can participate in a quiet yoga class). Check Temple Topics or the Shabbat Leaflet for dates.

Women’s Circle: Women join together in prayer, song, study and movement. Check Temple Topics or the Shabbat Leaflet for dates.

Festival Services

Our Festival offerings range from the traditional services on Sukkot, Passover and Shavuot, to Sukkah Dinner/Services, Simchat Torah Live! with a band and Hakafot, and even a Tikkun Ley'l Shavuot each year with guest speakers and teachers. In traditional manner, we read from Kohelet at Sukkot, Shir HaShirim at Pesach, and the Book of Ruth at Shavuot.

Purim keeps us smiling and dancing. Our annual carnival is always a big hit with our families. Two Megillah readings are held on Purim eve. Our Mishpacha program, for families with children (and anyone who wants to have a good time!), combines reading and shtick. Later in the evening, we offer a full Megillah reading for adults.

In a more reflective mood, Beth El participates in community-wide services for Tisha B'Av that generally take place at night with the reading of Eicha and during the day with a community Mincha service. We also participate in the community-wide Selichot service.

Evening minyan for festivals often begins at 6 p.m. Temple Topics will have specific minyan times for each festival.

What guidelines should you observe during the service?

We ask you to follow a few guidelines during all of our services:
-When the congregation is standing or the Rabbi is speaking, please wait to be seated.
-Please be sure to turn off all cell phones and electronic devices during the service.
-On the Sabbath (sundown Friday until after sundown Saturday), please do not bring gifts to the synagogue. Smoking, telephoning, electronic music and games, tape recording, photographs and videos are also not permitted.

Beth El Temple is Fragrance Free

Inclusiveness is one of our core values at Beth El; we do everything we can to make our community welcoming to all. In response to an increasing number of people who have mild to severe sensitivity to fragrances, we – and many other places of worship – ask all who come into the synagogue to avoid wearing products with fragrances. Our theme: Let’s keep the air we share healthy and fragrance-free for all. Below is the kind of information we hope those who have a simcha at Beth El will share with their guests:

We are happy you will be attending our special event at Beth el Temple.  Inclusiveness is one of our core values at Beth El. We do everything we can to make our synagogue open and welcoming to all. In response to an increasing number of people who have mild to severe sensitivity to fragrances, we ask you to avoid wearing products with fragrances.
Fri, June 14 2024 8 Sivan 5784