20 votes
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"Qof, Qof" What does this mean?

Likely, it is an acronym for קְהִילָה קְדוֹשָה k'hila k'dosha (lit: holy congregation), a title for Jewish communities whose use dates back to the Talmud (Tamid 27b).
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20 votes

What halachic issues are involved in turning off a mobile phone while praying the quiet Amidah?

In Lma'an Yishme'u #267 (page 2) Rabbi Chaim Hillel Raskin says that it is a Halachic obligation to quiet or turn off a cell phone before starting to Daven. If he did not, and his cell phone rings, ...
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  • 31.3k
20 votes
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What do I do if I do not have nice clothes to wear when visiting an Orthodox synagogue?

You are a very responsible and respectful person for inquiring about whether wearing your current clothes would be disrespectful or not to the synagogue. I really have to hand it to you, not everyone ...
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  • 17.5k
18 votes
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Can a service dog enter a Temple during service?

Yes. The Jerusalem Talmud (Tractate Megillah) quotes Rav Imi telling his assistant that if a scholar should visit and need to sleep in the Synagogue, he should let him, and allow him to bring ...
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  • 9,630
16 votes
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Why do many non-Orthodox Jews come to shul regularly only after a parent's death?

It's something like that, based on my observations of my local Reform and Conservative communities. What I notice in particular with the Conservative daily minyan is that there are some regulars, some ...
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16 votes
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Touro's Synagogue's trap door

This is actually an interesting question. The Department of the Interior's Office of Archeology and Historic Preservation (in its Historic American Buildings Survey) records (in 1972): The bema, or ...
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  • 20.8k
15 votes

Joining a synagogue after two generations non-practising

Yashar koach on becoming more involved in Jewish life. We can't say what they will do (only they can answer that), but I'll address how you can approach it. You are Jewish because your mother is (...
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14 votes
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Reform Shul- going?

Quite aside from any issues of appearance (which I understand to be quite serious, among the Orthodox, with respect to non-Orthodox services), you will not be yotzei because they will not do the ...
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13 votes
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Are Synagogues "holy ground," offering protection from evil creatures?

The Babylonian Talmud (M'gila, page 3 column 1) relates in the name of Ravina: One who is afraid [for no apparent reason] — although he doesn't see [anything], his mazal sees [something]. The ...
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12 votes

Can a gentile pray in a synagogue?

Refer to Kings I chap. 8 v 41-42. After completing the building of the First Temple in Jerusalem, King Solomon prays to God: "Also to the stranger who is not from the nation of Israel who comes (to ...
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11 votes
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Davening with a Minyan in China

I don't know if there's such a system available at the moment but I came across a project on Kickstarter [ JPal ] that aims to automate this process. According to the developers people can create a ...
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11 votes
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No kissing one's young children. What about kissing others?

In sefardi communities, it is very common for parents to kiss their children, and for men to kiss each other, e.g., as congratulations after an alyah laTorah. That surprised me and I had looked up the ...
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  • 43.3k
11 votes
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Catching up the missing weeks of Krias Hatorah

The Rama to Orach Chayim 135:2 writes that if a whole tzibbur missed last weeks laining they should lain both this weeks parsha and last weeks. With regards to a tzibbur missing many shabbasim it is a ...
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  • 39.5k
10 votes
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What is the difference between a temple, a synagogue, and a congregation?

A synagogue is a Jewish house of prayer. The term refers to both the building and the institution. You'll also hear the Yiddish word shul, which is actually derived from "school" but has come to ...
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9 votes

Do mourners change their seats in shul today?

When I was an aveil (for each of my parents), I changed my seat for the entire year. That is also the general minhag in my shul. This included Shabbosa as my new seat became my makom kavua for that ...
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9 votes

Where does "probeh" come from?

פּראָבעה is apparently a Yiddish word meaning "test" or "tryout". See Google Translate. I don't actually speak Yiddish, but the etymology is probably from German Probe (approximately pronounced ...
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  • 22.8k
9 votes

Why do many non-Orthodox Jews come to shul regularly only after a parent's death?

I wholly agree with Monica's excellent answer, but I would like to point out another phenomenon. Many non-Orthodox Jews go through a portion of their adult lives without giving much thought to ...
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  • 4,999
8 votes

Online tool for minyan management?

JPal should solve this issue. Please check this thread on SE: Davening with a Minyan in China Details: Minyan On Demand let's you create a minyan anywhere in the world and instantly have ...
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  • 324
8 votes
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In an average shul, how long before sunset does a combined weekday Mincha/Maariv service start?

The proprietors of goDaven were kind enough to supply me, for the purposes of answering this question, with their table of 5,960 mincha and/or maariv services. I used a Perl script to extract 1,046 ...
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  • 73.4k
8 votes
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Walking out of shul backwards

Orach Chaim 132:5 Magen Avraham 6 says that one should not walk out of the Shul with his back to the Heichal.
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8 votes

Are Synagogues "holy ground," offering protection from evil creatures?

Also to the contrary, see Talmud Kiddushin 29b, where the story is told of a demon that attacked people who entered the study hall. הוה ההוא מזיק בי רבנן דאביי דכי הוו עיילי בתרין אפי' ביממא הוו ...
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  • 81
8 votes
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Is it acceptable for a Gentile to attend a service at a Synagogue without intent of conversion?

We've had related questions from prospective converts and one that asks specifically how to behave in a particular group's shul. This answer will overlap with answers there, but I'm going to focus ...
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8 votes
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What is the Punishment for talking in Shul?

The Mishna Berurah (124:27) quotes the Elya Rabbah (124:12, that is himself quoting the Kol Bo) that a number of shuls ended up being destroyed on account of talking during davening: מנשוא - כתב בא&...
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8 votes

How many rabbis does a synagogue have and what is their role?

This answer is based on my experience only, which is primarily with Orthodox synagogues. Many synagogues have many members who happen to have completed the requisite course of study and become rabbis,...
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  • 73.4k
8 votes

How did they use to sleep in the shul?

The Shaarim Metzuyanim Bhalacha page 264 writes that it is lav davaka that he slept in the shul, but rather slept in a room near the shul. Text:
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  • 39.5k
7 votes

What was the shape of the Luchot?

I heard in a recording of R' Akiva Tatz that it is a nice incorporation of a verse in Mishlei (3:3): כתבם על לוח לבך Write them on the tablet of your heart The curved top luchos are an interpolation ...
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7 votes

Ostrich eggs in Shul?

The Etz Chaim Synagogue in Chania, Crete has ostrich eggs hanging from its main chandelier (can be seen here).
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  • 71
7 votes

Messianic Jew and Wine

Wine becomes yayin nesech when it is open and then is handled by a non-Jew or by a Jew who violates Shabbat or participates in avoda zara. "Messianic Judaism" could certainly be considered a form of ...
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  • 24.3k
7 votes
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How Can One Know If A Synagogue is Orthodox or Modern Orthodox?

The question mistakenly assumes that every Orthodox synagogue is either Modern Orthodox or not. This is not the case. The MO and charedim mix to a large extent. There are shuls with a charedi rabbi ...
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  • 4,091
7 votes

Sources to encourage returning s'farim to their places

Kraina D'Igrasa 1:59 - Rabbi Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky Zatzal writes that one who does not return the Seforim to its place is doing a Midah Achzorios and is a Rasha. Alternatively you can print one of ...
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