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October 7, 2015 | 24th Tishrei 5776
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Worship Space--Churches and Other Alternatives


See also "High Holy Day Venues"

  1. What is the feeling of conducting services in the sanctuary of the church? [A local church] has extended their friendship to our congregation in every way possible. We are proud and thankful for a wonderful relationship; and, members of the church participate in many of [our temple's] activities. The church sanctuary has been neutralized--in other words the crucifix is covered with a "banner," and in its place a banner with a large Magen David.
    100 households

  2. Ours is one of at least two synagogues in our community that, when founded, held Shabbat services in a church (interestingly, we both used the same church--one several years after the other). We also hold an "alternative" (family-oriented) service on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur mornings in the same church. We have a banner to cover the crucifix and nobody seems to mind at all. My main issue is that when Jewish services are held in a church there should not be any of the iconography that is common, for example, in Catholic churches. The church we use for High Holy Days has very nice geometric stained glass, but no images of Jesus or Mary.
    900 members

  3. We worshipped in a church for seven years before having our own building. Having services is what is paramount, not where you have them.
    approx. 150 households

  4. I recollect from past sermons that in the Torah (the Mah Tovu section-"how lovely are your tents...") the interpretation is that God's temple is where ever the Jews are and worship God, so that could also be in the sanctuary of a church.

    The situation you describe is very much like the situation where I am a cantorial soloist. We have about 85 families, most from mixed marriages. We meet in a modern church, which has been the home of this Reform synagogue for a number of years now. (This is certainly not a new concept. In fact, the Reform synagogue in Ann Arbor, Mich. started out that way and then built a building with the host church and, last I heard, they share the building. You can probably find info about it on the Web. I know years ago there was an article in the paper about it.) Back to the topic, there is one huge cross in the sanctuary where I sing, and our synagogue designed an arc with a back that rises and covers the cross during services. The rest of the church, which is Presbyterian, has very little obvious Christian symbolism elsewhere. On a similar note, in the summer for the past two years, I have sung as guest cantorial soloist at the Chatauqua Institute, which was begun as and still is basically a Christian organization. However, there is a Hebrew organization there and there are Reform services every week, held in a church on the grounds. There is minimal Christian symbolism and what is there is hidden during the Jewish services. The atmosphere in both these places is very Jewish.


  5. For many years a temple that I belonged to met in a church. I see nothing wrong with the concept as long as their religious symbols are not in view when your congregants are in the "house of worship."


  6. As I'm sure you'll hear from a number of other congregations, we have shared the hospitality of church sanctuaries in the same spirit your neighbors have offered. While we have our own building, because of the number of people who attend High Holy Day services, we have to use a larger facility for those services. Until this year, we held our High Holy Day services at the Catholic church next door to our building. This year, we moved to a different Catholic church (with a larger sanctuary) for our High Holy Day services. Both churches accommodated us by tastefully removing church banners, where possible, during our use.

    I will note that the next-door church remodeled this year and now has a crucifix in the middle of the sanctuary that would have been before us during our worship. Many of us did have a problem with that symbol; in the other church, we do face a very large cross set in tile in the wall, but the coloring is subtle (and thus the cross does not "stick out" too much) and the church, at their own suggestion, took down the Jesus statue on that cross for our services. While other symbols of the church remained in view, they were not in the line of sight during worship. My impression is that congregants were not troubled by those items. We too are proud and thankful of our relationship with these churches that make such accommodations possible.


  7. Sept 2006 Digest 138

                Several years ago we held services in the cafeteria of the County Office Building while we were renovating and putting an addition on our Temple. In creating sacred space we purchased…a lamp that had orange bulbs and blew silk pieces that when running looked like a flame. It was a smaller version of what I think was used at the Boston Biennial. We sat it on top of a portable ark in a corner of the room. It really worked and helped in making the space feel sacred. The lamp, or a similar one, can probably still be purchased...By the way, we are still using it in our Alternate Worship Space when we hold services in there. It's no longer in a corner but still does the job.



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