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Creating Our Sacred Space

Kehilat HaNahar is affiliated with the Reconstructionist movement. An essential feature distinguishing Reconstructionism from other Jewish paths is our approach to halakha, Jewish law. The rabbi functions not as the halakhic decision-maker but as the educator and facilitator of a congregation that, through study and discussion, puts its values into guidelines. In this document you will discover the results of our Little Shul's engagement with traditional texts, mixed with a frank discourse about our ethics, values, and priorities. 
Please respect these guidelines and feel free to discuss them with Rabbi Diana Miller.  

Guidelines for Prayer Services

Since we first created our Sanctuary in 1998, we have been dedicated to ensuring that it remains a sacred space -- one that acknowledges the rituals and customs of Jewish law and, at the same time, respects the communal values of the diverse congregation we are today. These guidelines, first developed under the leadership of Rabbi Sandy Roth (zikhronah livrakha) and most recently shaped under guidance from Rabbi Diana Miller and the Ritual Committee, are intended to accomplish these objectives. 
To enhance our experience in the Sanctuary, we refrain from: 
  • Using cell phones, PDAs, and other electronic devices 
  • Using flash photography 
  • Writing, smoking, or loud talking 
  • Entering or leaving when the congregation is standing or the congregation is being addressed from the Bimah 
Please consult with the Rabbi in advance about recording or photography during services of any sort. 

Participating in a Prayer Service (B'nai Mitzvah, Shabbat, or Holidays)

  • The person who leads a Prayer Service is the formal representative of and public facilitator for the Jewish community in prayer. For that reason, this person must be Jewish. 
  • The person who performs any of the following tasks must also be Jewish:
  • Opening the Ark 
  • Chanting Torah or Haftorah 
  • Reciting the traditional blessing before or after Torah reading (aliyah
  • Lifting the Torah (hagbah
  • Dressing the Torah (g'lilah
  • Delivering a talk about the Torah portion (d'var Torah
  • Leading the Prayer for Healing (m'shebairach)
  • The person who leads the congregation in a public recitation of a blessing must be Jewish. A blessing is that which 1) includes the words asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav ("who has sanctified us with G-d's commandments") and 2) asks for the congregation to respond "amen". 

Roles for Non-Jewish Participants

  • We invite those who are not Jewish to perform the parts of the service that are more universal rather than focused on strictly Jewish elements such as Torah. These include poems, contemporary readings, and most psalms. 
  • We invite those who are not Jewish to accompany a Jewish participant who is involved in the Torah-related activities listed above, as an affirmation of respect. 
  • We invite the non-Jewish parent of a Bar or Bat Mitzvah to recite a special prayer in English as he or she joins the Jewish parent receiving an aliyah
Wed, June 12 2024 6 Sivan 5784