Congregation Shema Yisrael’s Synagogue Etiquette
The fourth commandment says: Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy… the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. God Himself made the Sabbath a holy day. That means that He set it apart to accomplish His special purposes. And, He commands Israel to keep it holy. The Jewish people set this day apart in a number of ways – we don’t work; we eat the nicest foods; we assemble to pray and worship. One of the ways we keep the Sabbath (and other holidays) holy is dressing nicely when we assemble together. The purpose is not to have a fashion show, but show respect for the Sabbath (and other holidays), God and one another.
In our culture, we dress up for special occasions. Think of it this way: if you were invited to the Governor’s Mansion in Lansing, or to the White House in Washington, how would you dress? If you would dress up to honor the Governor or President, how much more the King of kings and Lord of lords?
Another reason to dress nice is for the sake of our witness. Congregation Shema Yisrael has a special calling. One of our goals is to reach out with the Good News to the Jewish people. We want to set the proper decorum so that Jewish people who are seeking God and the Messiah, and who come to our services and are used to people dressing nicely for religious services, won’t be offended. We are asking nothing more than what Rabbi Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:20: To the Jewish people, I became like a Jewish person, that I might win Jewish people.
With that in mind, we want men and boys to wear nice slacks, nice shoes, and a nice shirt. The ladies and girls should wear a dress, longish skirt, or dress pants, in keeping with Rabbi Paul’s admonition found in 1 Timothy 2:9: I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly… as befits women making a claim to godliness.
Please, no jeans, tennis shoes, sneakers, sweat pants, shorts, and no shirts with any writing or pictures on them, even if they have a Biblical message, including our Jesus Made Me Kosher shirts.
Head coverings (kippahs, yarmulkas) are not required for men or women.
A tallit is not required for men.