Home > About KI > Welcoming Guests

If you are visiting a Jewish service for the first time (and/or this is your first visit to KI), here is some information that you may find useful.

  1. We have brochures available that describe the service and the congregation.
  2. Our main service on Saturday mornings begins at 10:00 am and lasts between two and 2-1/2 hours. It is normal for people to arrive late and to step out for a break as needed during the service.
  3. The services are predominantly in Hebrew, but we provide translation and transliteration.
  4. We do not preach a sermon as such. Rather, one of our members gives a short talk related to the scriptural reading, which we call a “D’var Torah.” This is usually followed by a discussion period.
  5. There are certain ritual functions that are reserved for members of the Jewish community. In order to recite certain prayers, we are required to have a quorum (called a “minyan“) of ten Jewish adults present. Only Jewish adults may wear the traditional prayer shawl (tallit). Also, when we read the Torah, some people are called up to bless sections for the Torah reading, or to lift or dress the scroll. This is all based upon ritual practices dating back to antiquity.
  6. Feel free to participate fully with us in prayer, song, and discussion. The only ground rule (other than addressing others with respect) is that we ask people of other faiths to respect our tradition by not proselytizing or affirming faith in Jesus. For reasons that may or may not be obvious, Jews are extremely sensitive to being preached to from a Christian perspective and take offense at efforts to convert them to Christianity. If you need an explanation of this sensitivity, we invite you to ask the rabbi or a member.
  7. While our canonical texts are basically identical with the Christian “Old Testament” (with the exception of the order of some of the books and not including the Apocryphal books), our practice may be very different from what you might expect from a literal reading of the Torah (the first five books of the Bible). There are several reasons for this; here are a few:
    • Jews believe that the Torah is a very subtle and complex text that can be interpreted in countless ways and at several different levels.
    • The Hebrew language is full of ambiguities so there are many possibilities what any verse is actually saying.
    • The rabbinic tradition dramatically reinterpreted Jewish practice after the Temple was destroyed from a tradition based on ritual sacrifice to one based on responsibility for holiness resting on the shoulders of every Jew and every community. This restatement of laws and practice, based on the Talmud and other texts, has enabled Judaism to thrive for 2000 years of exile.
    • Except for a small Orthodox minority, most Jews practice one of several more liberal forms of Judaism where the emphasis is more on social justice and responsibility than on literal adherence to the laws of Torah.
  8. Our visitors are always invited to stay after services for for a light kiddush lunch. There you can meet our members and clarify any questions you might have.