FAQ

Altshul’s practices have evolved over our history to meet the needs of our community. We often get questions about exactly how Altshul works and why we made the choices we did. Answers to some of the most common questions are below. If you need a definition of a term, check the glossary below. And if your question isn’t here, we’d love to answer it for you! Please contact us at info@altshul.org.

  • When and where does Altshul Meet?

    Altshul meets the 2nd and 4th Saturday of every month. We also meet on the High Holidays and most of the other major Jewish holidays. See Altshul calendar for the full schedule.

    Altshul meets at Congregation Beth Elohim located at 274 Garfield Place in Park Slope, Brooklyn on Saturday and Holiday mornings.

  • How do I find out current “happenings” at Altshul?

    An Altshul e-newsletter is sent out weekly. To be added to the list please sign up here.

    Altshul Facebook page is another great way to learn about events or other community activities. You can join the Facebook page.

  • Does Altshul have programming for children on Shabbat and holiday mornings 

    Yes! Altshul features two kindershul services: one for young children, and one for elementary school age children. Please see our Families page for more information.

  • How can I volunteer at Altshul?

    There are a myriad of ways that we would love for you to become involved at Alsthul. Any member on the Altshul Leadership team would welcome this conversation or point you to the appropriate team member leading the charge. Please email info@altshul.org to find out more.

  • How accessible is Altshul to those who are fully Shabbat observant?

    There are shabbat friendly restrooms on the second floor of the building. If you have other concerns regarding your shomer shabbat experience while attending Altshul services, please speak with one of the Leadership Team members.

  • How can I support Altshul financially?

    Beginning in summer of 2018, Altshul to announce a new way to support the community. See our partnership page.

  • How can I find out more about Altshul’s policies?

    Many of our policies can be found on our Website. If you have questions about these policies and/or specific question please email info@altshul.org to be in touch with the Leadership Team.

  • Who is Altshul’s Halakhic authority?

    Altshul consults Rabbi Ethan Tucker from Mechon Hadar on most Halakhic issues. While the Altshul community does not have a Rabbi, we are happy to put you in touch with a Rabbi if you have a Halakhic question or need pastoral guidance.

  • What’s the deal with Altshul’s “blue sheets”?

    It can be distracting to those davening/praying to continually announce page numbers, and interrupting davening to speak also presents Halakhic complications. However, it is extremely important to us that everyone feel comfortable and welcome in our space and have the opportunity to know where we are in the service. The blue sheets are intended to help our community find their place. The prayer for the State of Israel is on the back of the blue sheet.

  • Why doesn’t Altshul always say Aleinu out loud at services?

    A part of the Altshul community found the liturgy in Aleinu challenging, and a decision was made to give people the choice of saying Aleinu out loud or not when they lead services.

  • How does Altshul operate as an egalitarian minyan?

    Altshul is an independent, egalitarian minyan that is guided by halacha (Jewish law) and follows the traditional liturgy. Women participate fully in the services and there is no mechitza (partition) separating women and men.Altshul leaves the decision up to the person leading tefilot (prayer) as to whether or not they include the Imahot in the opening lines of the amidah. However, the Imahot may not be included in the closing blessing of each paragraph of the amidah.

  • Does Altshul ever skip prayers?

    Our outline includes most of the prayers that are part of the Shabbat day service. In a rare moment, when services are extremely long, we will omit Anim Zmirot at the end of services, which is not a Halakhic requirement.

  • What is Altshul’s Kashrut policy?

    Please refer to Altshul’s Kashrut policy for general information.

  • Why doesn’t Altshul serve bread or bagels at Kiddush?

    Unless Altshul is having a sit-down meal, we do not serve bread or bagels at Kiddush as they require a ritual hand-washing and blessing that would make the meal count as a lunch.

  • How can I be sure to have a Shomer Shabbat (halachically observant sabbath) in the CBE Facilities?

    The bathrooms on the first floor have lights and paper towels that run on an automated sensor, but the bathrooms outside of the ballroom on the second floor do not have a light sensors, so those are options for people who would like to avoid turning on motors.

    The drinking fountain on the first floor also has a motorized sensor, but you can get water from the sinks in the second floor bathroom.

    The Chapel where Altshul services are held does not require the use of any electronics.

  • How are gender non-binary people included in Altshul services?

    When you are given an honor, such as an aliyah (called to say the blessings before and after the Torah reading) or a special mishebeirach (blessing), the gabbai will ask you for your preferred gender pronoun. We have appropriate versions of the text to be recited in gender neutral, female, and male formats.

Glossary

  • Aleinu: The prayer said near the end of each service that refers to, among other themes, God’s special role for the Jewish people.

  • Amidah: The prayers, usually said silently while standing, that form the central part of the three daily services in Judaism. On Shabbat, the Amidah consists of seven prayers, and on weekdays, of nineteen. In the morning, the Amidah is repeated out loud by the leader of the service.

  • Davening: Praying.

  • Egalitarian: In Jewish communities, this usually refers to the idea that women should be able to fulfill the same roles and religious requirements as men. Altshul is an egalitarian Minyan, which means that all of our roles — including reading from the Torah and being counted for a Minyan — can be fulfilled by any of our adult community members.

  • Halakha: The body of Jewish law, starting with the Torah and Talmud and continuing through subsequent Rabbinic legal opinions, that traditionally define the rules for fulfilling Judaism’s commandments. Altshul as a community is guided by — but not bound to — halakha.

  • Hechsher: A mark indicating that a product has been examined by a Jewish authority and determined to be Kosher. In general, for packaged foods, this involves a supervisor (“mashgiach”) inspecting the facility occasionally. For certain kinds of foods (meat, cheese, and grape products in particular) the process is more complex. Food does not have to be blessed by a Rabbi to be Kosher, and many foods (such as raw, uncut fruits and vegetables) do not need a hechsher at all.

  • Imahot: The matriarchs of Jewish tradition: Sarah, Rebecca, Leah, and Rachel. Traditionally, the first prayer of the Amidah, the “avot” prayer, mentions the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) but not the matriarchs, and many egalitarian communities extend this prayer to mention the matriarchs as well.

  • Kiddush: The sanctification prayer we say over wine on Shabbat and holidays, and by extension the event at which this prayer is said. At Altshul, we say Kiddush after services on Shabbat mornings and have sponsors who volunteer to bring snacks and drinks for people to eat afterwards.

  • Leyning: Publicly reading Torah (or any other part of the Bible, for instance the Haftarah or the Five Scrolls we read on certain holidays). Torah is usually read with a particular musical system called “trope”. Altshul’s leyners are all community members who volunteer to learn Torah portions on the weeks that we meet. If you are interested in leyning for Altshul, contact gabbai@altshul.org.

  • Minyan: A Jewish community. “Minyan” also specifically refers to a community gathered for prayer, and in particular to the ten Jewish adults who must be present in order for a group praying together to be considered a community.

  • Tefilot: Prayers.

Comments are closed.