Our Community

At Central Synagogue

Central Synagogue is an inclusive and welcoming community. We encourage participation from all who seek a connection to Jewish life and want to be part of our sacred community regardless of religious background, race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, political affiliation, ability, age, sexual orientation, and gender identity. We are committed to being an open tent, a place that welcomes all people, including those who have been historically and institutionally marginalized or excluded from the Jewish community.

If you’d like to learn more about our sacred community, please contact Elizabeth Brown, Senior Manager, Member Experience, via email at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or via phone at 212-838-5122 ext. 2007.

Faith Backgrounds

We are a proud Reform Jewish congregation and a member of the Union for Reform Judaism, but members and visitors from all Jewish denominations find their spiritual home at Central Synagogue. We welcome all people regardless of their expression of faith, including those who consider themselves agnostic, atheist or questioning. Jews by birth, Jews by choice, and non-Jews are all welcome at our services and programs.

Interfaith and Non-Jews

Central Synagogue holds the religious responsibility of welcoming the stranger among the most significant principles of our faith. We welcome interfaith couples and families and non-Jewish parents raising Jewish children, just as we welcome all singles and families to Central Synagogue. People with faith backgrounds other than Judaism or with no faith background are welcome to pray with us, study with us, share in holiday celebrations, and participate in lifecycle events. Interfaith couples and families are eligible for membership on the same basis as all other couples and families.

Every adult member has the same voting rights, regardless of their faith background. In all life cycle events, such as welcoming newborn babies and bar/bat mitzvahs, all family members are invited to the bima (pulpit) to join in celebration, offer congratulatory remarks, and lead English readings from the siddur (prayerbook). Synagogue honors expressed as commandments to Jews (blessing candles or wine, or reading from the Torah) will be offered to Jewish family members.

We encourage all to participate in our worship, regardless of knowledge of Hebrew or Judaism. Page numbers are frequently announced and Hebrew prayers are transliterated (written in English letters) so that all can sing along.

For those interested in learning more about Judaism, we offer Exploring Judaism, a course open to non-Jews alone or non-Jews with their Jewish partners, who are either members or non-members of Central Synagogue. We also offer a holistic Conversion Studies program for those considering conversion to Judaism. Rabbi Lisa Rubin is open to working with anyone exploring a Jewish life (regardless of conversion).

Accessibility

Many of Central Synagogue’s events and programs are open to the public including adult education, social justice, and worship. Our space provides for full access to visitors with unique needs. Our ushers are happy to provide visitors with hearing enhancement devices and/or large print prayer books upon request. Our Shabbat services are accessible via live streaming and call-in for those who may have mobility limitations. Please visit our accessibility page to learn more.

Special Needs

Our nursery and religious school faculty undergo training to ensure that all teachers and staff members are sensitive to differences and foster a welcoming community of inclusion and understanding. Rena Allen, our Director of Special Education and Educator Training, works directly with parents to make our religious school (LCLJ) as accessible as possible for all children. The Nursery School faculty includes an occupational therapy consultant, speech and language consultant, and early childhood development specialist, all of whom work with teachers and parents to help make our nursery school a successful environment for all of our students.

LGBTQ

Central Synagogue welcomes all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, as full participants in all religious practices and in the entire community life of the congregation. We invite gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender members, whether single or as a couple, married or not, with or without children, using the same membership categories applicable to all members.

LGBTQ members are encouraged to celebrate milestones in their lives, including anniversaries, by being called to the Torah for an aliyah. Central Synagogue celebrates with all members: gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and heterosexual, as their life cycle events are shared with the congregation. Our clergy officiate at same-sex and heterosexual weddings.

Our staff, as a whole, is committed to raising synagogue-wide consciousness with regards to LGBTQ issues and inclusion. We are involved with an LGBTQ Inclusion Project through the Jewish Education Project/Keshet, which aims to increase inclusion in our programming, policies, and procedures.

Gender-neutral bathrooms exist in the Sanctuary, Nursery School, and Community House.

Our religious school staff are trained to use gender-neutral language and have sensitivity training regarding special considerations for LGBTQ youth and teens.