The synagogue traditionally has three functions – a house of meeting (Beit Knesset), a house of study (Beit Midrash) and a house of prayer (Beit Tefilah). Prayer is seen by many as the most essential of these three functions, and the Leo Baeck Centre strives to make its regular and festival services engaging, meaningful and stimulating. We are also aware that different age groups are engaged by different approaches. In this section of the website, we present the range of prayer services that we currently offer.
Visitors of all faiths are most welcome to attend our services. If you are not Jewish, we suggest that you contact our Office first, so that we can arrange to have a member of our Congregation to greet you when you arrive.
Our new prayerbook, Mishkan T’filah is full of notes and explanations about the customs found in services and home practices within the Progressive Jewish world.
We expect men to cover their heads and have spare ‘kippot’ available for the purpose. Jewish men usually also wear a ‘tallit’ (prayer shawl) at morning services and again we have these available. Since we practice equality as a key principle of Progressive Judaism, anyone is welcome and invited to use these ‘Jewish prayer garments’.
Out of deference to the Torah, which represents the central truths and framework of Jewish life, we stand when the Ark is opened and when it is taken out, and we turn to face it as it is processed around the synagogue. Some people bow in respect as it passes, whilst others touch it with their tallit.
All participate equally in the services, and we often have a female chazanit (cantor) as well as people of various genders leading the service. We usually have an organ to provide beautiful accompaniment to our singing.