Interviewing a Synagogue
A questionnaire to help you decide on a shul to attend
Observance of Jewish Law
- Is the facility kosher? What are its policies regarding food consumed on the premises?
- To what extent does the synagogue observe Shabbat and holidays in its facility? Does it allow the use of electricity? Do members drive to synagogue?
- What is the range of observance among congregants?
- Is the synagogue welcoming to families at differing levels of observance?
Education for Children
- Does the synagogue have a Hebrew School?
- What grades does the school include? How many hours per week are students in classes?
- What subjects are covered, and what are the teachers' qualifications?
- Is there a bar/bat mitzvah preparatory program?
- Are there educational opportunities for children after their bar/bat mitzvahs?
- Does the synagogue offer adult education programs? Are there classes in learning Hebrew or Torah study?
- Does the synagogue offer education and resources for potential converts?
- Are there youth groups and other social opportunities for children and teens?
- Is there a sisterhood and/or brotherhood?
- Does the synagogue feature guest lectures or scholar-in-residence programs?
- Does the synagogue hold social events for different groups, like singles or young couples?
Social & Political Issues
- Does the synagogue hold itself to environmentally friendly policies regarding recycling, water-usage, lighting choices, and the like?
- Does the synagogue have a specific political or religious position in relation to Israel? Is there an Israel-interest group through the synagogue?
- Does the synagogue take part in any regularly scheduled (weekly, monthly, annual) social action activities (feeding the homeless, assisting in building projects, food collection)?
- Do the rabbi and/or others often speak from the pulpit about political issues? If so, what are their political leanings and what issues are most central to them?
Costs & Fees
- How much are dues and how are they paid?
- Is there a building fund payment required? What is the schedule for its payment?
- Is financial aid available? Is the process respectful?
- If there is a Hebrew School, how much does it cost?
- Do member need to pay extra for tickets to High Holiday services?
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