Maybe you're coming to visit our Synagogue to find out more about it. Maybe you've been invited to a Bar Mitzvah. Or maybe you're just interested in seeing what an Orthodox Synagogue is like. As we are an Orthodox Synagogue, we would be most appreciative if you could please take note of the following guidelines.
We appreciate this is quite a long list. However, we would like both our members and guests to be comfortable while in our Synagogue, and these guidelines will help everybody - regular attendees or occasional visitors - to have an enjoyable and spiritually fulfilling time.
1) All boys and men must wear a "Kippah" (a skullcap) while in the Synagogue and its surrounding grounds. If you do not have one, there are some available at the entrance to the Synagogue.
2) All Jewish married ladies must wear a hat or other head covering (not just a "fascinator") while in the Synagogue. If you do not have one, there are some scarves available at the entrance to the Synagogue.
3) Everybody is asked to dress modestly. For men this means trousers (shorts are acceptable for young children on hot days) and shirts (long or short sleeved). Many men, especially if they are attending a special event such as Bar Mitzvah, will wear a suit and tie.
4) Ladies are asked to wear tops which are not low cut, and which cover their shoulders. Trousers are inappropriate, and skirts or dresses should cover their knees.
5) As is the case with all Orthodox Synagogues, men and women sit separately. Please ask someone if you are not sure where to go.
6) Some Orthodox Jews prefer not to touch someone of the opposite sex (apart from their immediate family) so please do not be offended if, for example, you are a woman and a man does not greet you with a handshake.
Please note that if you arrive dressed inappropriately, we may ask you to put on a coat or to leave the Synagogue. This is to maintain an appropriate level of respect for the holiness of the Synagogue and for G-D.
Coming to the Synagogue
1) Being an Orthodox Synagogue, if you are Jewish and coming on Shabbat or a Yom Tov (Festival), it would be better for you to walk to the Synagogue and not to drive.
2) If you are planning on driving to the Synagogue, please bear in mind that it is in a residential area. The Synagogue car park is not open on Shabbat or Yom Tov and there is limited local roadside space available. Please be considerate when parking and ensure that you do not block driveways or restrict access in other ways.
3) The Police have been called by residents in the past in response to inconsiderate, illegal or dangerous parking. This has resulted in cars being ticketed or towed away, and damages our relationship with our neighbours.
4) Please DO NOT park in the Aberford Park Community Centre car park (behind the Shul). This car park is for the users of the hall and park only.
5) The use of mobile phones and other electronic devices (eg cameras, digital or otherwise) is forbidden on Shabbat and Yom Tov. You are kindly asked not to bring them into the Synagogue grounds.
6) As is sadly now the case at Synagogues around the country, security can be quite tight. There are security guards who will be on the gate to the Synagogue. If they do not recognise you, please do not be alarmed if they ask you questions or check any bags you might bring.
While at the Synagogue
The most important point is to maintain the dignity of the Religious Service. This is for the benefit of the people leading the service, the regular attendees, and other visitors.
1) If you have inadvertently brought a phone, camera or other electronic device with you, please ensure it is off or on silent, and do not get it out or use it, in Shul or in the Kiddush, until you are completely off the premises.
2) Applause is not appropriate at any point during the service.
3) There are certain points during the service where talking is absolutely forbidden. This includes the whole of the Leining (the reading of the Torah) and whenever the Ark (containing the Torah scrolls) is open. It is also disrespectful to talk during the Rabbi's sermon. At other parts in the service, talking should be kept to a minimum to ensure that everybody can hear, enjoy and participate in the service.
4) Please be aware of the proceedings - for example, please stand up when everybody else stands up, and face the Ark when it is open.
5) Please do not walk across the front of the Synagogue during the service - please go around behind the Bimah (the reading desk in the middle of the Synagogue).
6) Most of the books contain English translations to help you understand the prayers and Torah reading. Please feel free to ask the page number from those sitting around you.
7) The throwing of sweets is not permitted, both for reasons of dignity and the safety of our members.
8) Smoking is not allowed at any time anywhere in the Synagogue buildings or grounds.
People who persist in disturbing the service may be asked to leave the Synagogue.
If you are visiting and would like someone to sit with you to explain the various parts of the service (as almost all of the service is conducted in Hebrew), please contact the Synagogue office beforehand at .
We have also published a "Visitor's Guide" booklet. This is available in the Shul, but can also be downloaded here.
Whatever your reason for coming, we look forward to seeing you and we hope you enjoy your visit to BES.
Rabbi Chaim Kanterovitz - Senior Rabbi
Benjamin Arnold & Simon Mitchell - Wardens