Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Where does Westminster Synagogue stand in the Anglo-Jewish Community Spectrum?

  2. What are the Principles and Policy of Westminster Synagogue?

  3. When was the congregation founded?

  4. How are the services conducted?

  5. Is there a kindergarten?

  6. What is provided in the way of religious education for children?

  7. Are there any activities for teenagers?

  8. What are the arrangements for bar and bat mitzvah?

  9. Do you provide distance learning?

  10. I am married to a non-Jew who does not wish to convert; can our son/daughter have his/her Bar/Bat Mitzvah at Westminster Synagogue?

  11. What is provided in the way of adult education?

  12. What about baby blessings?

  13. What about marriages?

  14. Will someone visit my elderly or sick relative?

  15. Do you help with funeral arrangements?

  16. What are the benefits of membership?

  17. Can I come and see what it is like before joining?

  18. What are the membership fees?

  19. Is there a Burial Scheme?

  20. How do I apply?

  21. How do I pay?

  22. Do I need to give to the synagogue? Isn’t my subscription enough?

    Where does Westminster Synagogue stand in the Anglo-Jewish Community Spectrum?

    It is an independent progressive congregation, with close links both to Reform Judaism and to Liberal Judaism.

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     What are the Principles and Policy of Westminster Synagogue?

    In 1961, the members adopted a Statement of principles and policy, which continues to guide the congregation’s approach to every aspect of Synagogue life and is provided to all members. This statement affirms a belief in Judaism as a relevant motivating power in members’ lives and calls for participation in the life of Jewry as a whole and in human endeavour in the wider community; for services giving voice to the authentic Jewish tradition in a manner suitable to the present time; for a democratic administration, and for a sense of congregational responsibility.

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    When was the congregation founded?

    The Congregation was founded in 1957 by a group of families who pledged “to create a Synagogue which would be an instrument for the pursuit of religious truth, a source of encouragement to human progress and of comfort to individual men and women.”

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    How are the services conducted?

    The services are conducted in an atmosphere of decorum. Men and women sit together and participate equally. All members are encouraged to take an active part in the services. The Synagogue has its own Daily & Sabbath and Three Pilgrim Festivals prayer books. Services are read in both Hebrew and English. There is an organ accompaniment. Kippot are worn by men and they wear a tallit when playing an active role in the service. A cantor generally leads the singing but members are encouraged to sing too.

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    Is there a kindergarten?

    An independent kindergarten, Eaton Square Knightsbridge, operates at Kent House in our basement classrooms. They offer both morning and afternoon sessions. For more information, contact ESKN http://www.eatonsquareschool.com/ direct.

    Emily Moxon runs a Tots Shabbat on the first Saturday of each month during term time for tots and toddlers up to 3 years old. For more information on our toddler activities click here

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    What is provided in the way of religious education for children?

    Or Shabbat, our Shabbat morning learning programme, has special classes for children aged 3 to 11. Classes operate from 10.00 to 12.30 during school term times. The curriculum incorporates Jewish studies, small group Hebrew tuition and a whole school approach to assembly, singing, festivals and other topics.  There is a special programme for  B'nei Mitzvah for children aged 11-13.

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    Are there any activities for teenagers?

    Yes, Westminster Synagogue offers many oppertunities for teenagers to study and to get together. This includes our GCSE course, Residental Weekends, Leadership training within Or Shabbat and our Teenagers group who meet up both in and out of the synagogue. We also encourage our teenage members to play an active role in our services, and for more information, please click here

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    What are the arrangements for Bar and Bat Mitzvah?

    Bar or Bat Mitzvah follows a two-year period of preparation, following attendance at Or Shabbat. Students aged 11+ follow a weekly B'nei Mitzvah programme. The programme includes family learning opportunities, residential weekends and festival activities.

    B'nei Mitzvah graduates are invited to read from the Torah on the anniversary of their portion.

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    Do you provide distance learning?

    Distance learning can be arranged for students attending boarding school and who are away from London during school term time, in conjunction with Nick Young.

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    I am married to a non-Jew who does not wish to convert; can our son/daughter have his/her Bar/Bat Mitzvah at Westminster Synagogue?

    Yes, if you are a member and your child attends the two-year B’nei Mitzvah programme. The synagogue’s policy is that a child who receives a Jewish education is considered Jewish irrespective of which of the parents is Jewish. Following Bar/Bat Mitzvah, an application is made for a Status Certificate, if necessary and appropriate, confirming the child’s Jewish Status in the eyes of the non-orthodox community in the UK and abroad.


    What is provided in the way of adult education?

    The Synagogue provides learning programmes for all age groups including inter-generational and family learning. We offer an ‘Access to Judaism’ course for all members and prospective members – an insight into Judaism that is both simple and extensive. Our Rabbi and our Head of Education lead sessions for the adult members of the congregation in the study of biblical Judaism, Hebrew and contemporary Jewish life. Jewish parenting courses have been run on Shabbat mornings to parents of children attending Or Shabbat.  There are classes for those who wish to convert to Judaism (and their partners) which are also run on Shabbat mornings. As well as Hebrew classes, a Women's Lunch and Learn and a Women's Bat Mitzvah class for women of any age who have not had their Bat Mitzvah yet. For more information on any adult education classes, please contact the Synagogue Office

  23. We also run an extensive programme of lectures, 'In Conversation' evenings, concerts and other cultural events under our 'Kent House Presents' programme. Please look at our Home Page to find out more about our upcoming events.


    What about baby blessings?

    Baby blessings can be arranged for girls and boys and usually take place during the Shabbat morning service, or privately by arrangement. On request, the Rabbi can also help families by recommending a Mohel and with arrangements for Brit Milah.

     

    What about marriages?

    Marriages can be solemnised under the auspices of Westminster Synagogue when both parties are of the Jewish faith and are members of the Synagogue. The Chuppah can be held in the splendid surroundings of Kent House or a venue of the couple’s choice. Kent House is also available for room hire for family celebration following the wedding service; for more information click here.

    In a marriage where only one partner is Jewish, we do our utmost to assist and sustain in every way those who wish to have a meaningful link with the Jewish community. Following discussion with the Rabbi a marriage blessing can be arranged provided the couple have had a civil wedding before the ceremony. This is a meaningful service where families of the couple are present and it can be held at Kent House or at a venue of the couple’s choice.

     

    Will someone visit my elderly or sick relative?

    If we are notified, our Rabbi or a member of the community will visit members in hospital and in their home.

     

    Do you help with funeral arrangements?

    Rabbi Salamon officiates at both burials and cremation. The Synagogue will help you through these difficult times by providing practical and spiritual support. In the event of a death in your family, contact the synagogue office and the Rabbi will be in contact with the bereaved as quickly as possible.

     

    What are the benefits of membership?

    You and your family can participate fully in all our services including the High Holydays, education programmes, social events and activities and send your children to our lively Saturday morning Or Shabbat classes. You receive our weekly and monthly newsletters which give you up to date information on our upcoming events. Membership also offers the right to join our burial scheme. There are reduced rates for hiring the synagogue function rooms.

     


    Can I come and see what it is like before joining?

    Yes, any time except the High Holydays.  There are also special Open Days to visit or shabbat,our children’s educational facility.  See our Event Calendar or contact the Synagogue Secretary at secretary@westminstersynagogue.org.


    What are the membership fees?

    Details of the fee structure are here.


    Is there a Burial Scheme?

    Yes, there is a burial scheme which provides for a plot at Edgwarebury Cemetery.  For more detail click here.


    How do I apply?

    By calling the synagogue office for an appointment to meet the Rabbi. To download our Membership Application Form, click here


    How do I pay?

    Payment should be made by Direct Debit; click here to download a form.  Or contact our accountant on 020 7584 3953 or by email accountant@westminstersynagogue.org.


    Do I need to give to the synagogue? Isn’t my subscription enough?

    You will know if you look at the synagogue accounts that the income from subscriptions never covers our expenses. To raise the funds we need to function as a synagogue, we rely on donations and fund-raising. There is an annual programme of fund-raising functions but we need to appeal to members and friends for gifts.