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Why is it that some people won't set foot in another's sanctuary, even if it was for a non-prayer function? Can an orthodox person be in a reform style temple sanctuary for a lecture or concert? I understand possible discomfort with prayer services but sanctuaries are often used for other purposes.

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Hi, joeyb! Welcome to mi.yodeya! Thanks for jumping right in with such an excellent and power-packed question. I wouldn't be surprised if it takes some time and maybe iterations before there's a complete answer. If you feel the need to respond to any of the answers, I recommend leaving a comment on the answer. Please consider registering your account so that you'll have access to all of mi.yodeya's features. To do this, click on register or login at the top of the page, click on the icon for a service you use (eg GMail), and follow the prompts. – Isaac Moses Dec 23 '09 at 6:34
It appears to me that there is no problem in a place that doesn't worship avodah zarah – b a Jul 23 '12 at 7:37
I have the same question regarding a Kaplan Course for SAT given in a temple – user2983 Jul 9 '13 at 3:16
@regina Check out our other question on that topic specifically: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/31977/759 – Double AA Oct 29 '13 at 16:49

Rav Moshe in his Igros Moshe EH 2:17 second paragraph he seems to make it clear that for davening it is for sure assur, and even when it is a wedding an Orthodox person should not go. This tshuva was regarding Conservative synagogues; I am guessing that all the more so this would apply to Reform.

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You are "guessing forsure"? – Hacham Gabriel Jul 23 '12 at 17:52
Reform has deviated more than conserv.sry writing from phone – sam Jul 23 '12 at 17:53
Sam, I think @HachamGabriel was pointing out the inherent contradiction of your certain guess. – Seth J Jul 23 '12 at 19:25
@SethJ yea I got that . – sam Jul 23 '12 at 19:33

I believe R' Moshe Feinstein has a responsum regarding an Orthodox rabbi performing a wedding at a heterodox synagogue, in which he says "your job as rabbi is to perform weddings, regardless of location", but I don't recall if he addresses the sanctuary-vs-social-hall aspect. Hopefully I'll find it later?

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See haoros.com/Archive/index.asp?kovetz=862&cat=9&haoro=3, haoros.com/Archive/index.asp?kovetz=866&cat=9&haoro=5, haoros.com/Archive/index.asp?kovetz=867&cat=9&haoro=3, and haoros.com/Archive/index.asp?kovetz=868&cat=9&haoro=5 for various points/counterpoints on this, including a discussion of R' Moshe's various teshuvos relating to this issue. – Alex Apr 27 '11 at 23:07
I don't have a source available, but this is what I have seen in practice: in smaller Orthodox communities, where Orthodox synagogues don't have ample space to host events (Bar/Bat mitzvah, wedding, etc.) they will often rent the social hall of a large Reform or Conservative synagogue. HOWEVER - they will never enter the sanctuary, for any reason. I have seen a chuppah set up in the lobby, with guests packed in tightly, while on the other side of the double doors, a large empty sanctuary room sat unused. (The reception was in the social hall). – user1095 Feb 13 '12 at 20:23

I don't have a citation (if somebody else does maybe they could edit it in, otherwise I'll keep looking) but R' Moshe Feinstein z'l rules that kefira (heresy) is the same as avoda zara (idol worship) with regards to the halachos of entering a place of worship, and that since reform and conservative reject many if not most of the Rambam's 13 ikarim (principals of faith), they are places of kefira and the actual sanctuary may not be entered.

Aside from this there is the issue of maris ayin (giving the appearance of wrongdoing). Even if there were not a specific law prohibiting entering the sanctuary, reform and conservative are not halachically legitimate movements and entering them as a religious Jew might give the false impression that their breaks with Torah are acceptable.

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Could you clarify your second paragraph? Is that R. Feinstein's opinion, or yours? – Monica Cellio Jul 23 '12 at 12:28
@AdamMosheh why is saying Yigdal any kind of a proof? Are you going to tell me that the reform movement or even any single reform synagogue regards all 13 ikarim as unconditional statements of belief? As for this rabbi who abrogates halacha, that really sounds more like a reform kind of thing... – yoel Jul 23 '12 at 14:54
@MonicaCellio it is also R' Feinstein. – yoel Jul 23 '12 at 14:54
@AdamMosheh Judaism is a religion not only of beliefs. It surely is a religion of belief. Recitation of Yigdal is no proof of belief in the principles summarized therein; and saying mar'is ayin is no concern is rejecting standard halacha, a highly unorthodox thing to do. – msh210 Jul 23 '12 at 16:09
You could improve this answer by citing and optionally translating important quotations from the particular responsum you're referring to. – Isaac Moses Jul 23 '12 at 16:25

R' Moshe Feinstein z'l is no longer with us. This is an excellent question to demonstrate the dictum that you should have your questions answered by your Rabbi, not by a book. Of course, your rabbi will know of R' Feinstein's rulings, but he will also know of your circumstances, the reason for the proposed visit, etc.

A friend of mine, a black-hat from Monsey NY, was recently told by his Rabbi that it was permissible to attend the Shabbat Shareit bat-mitzvah (in a conservative synagogue) of my friend's niece (his brother's daughter). The Rabbi cited issues of peace within the family and not insulting my friend's brother as reasons to trump (in this particular case) the reasons for not attending.

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Who was suggesting that someone should ever rule by a book instead of their rabbi? – Double AA Jul 9 '13 at 10:40

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