Sign In Forgot Password

Everything you need to know about TBI.

We know that visiting a shul can seem intimidating, and that there are probably some questions you'd rather not have to ask. We want you to feel at home in our community, and we're pretty open about who we are and what it's like here.

If you read through this page, you'll find the answers to questions about whether you have to be a member to visit (you don't), whether you have to be Jewish to participate (you don't), whether we wear suits to services (some do most don't), whether kids have to keep quiet and sit still for hours (they don't, and neither do you), and what to do with your smartphone (short story- keep it silent). 

There's a shul in Highland Park? Since when?

TBI was founded in 1923 by a group of mighty women who wanted a Hebrew school for their children in their growing Jewish neighborhood. We moved into our current building in 1930.

Today, TBI is one of the oldest synagogues in Los Angeles still operating in its original location. Highland Park is once again in the heart of a thriving Jewish community. We operate in a neighborhood traditionally known for its artists and independent shops, and much of our membership lives locally but many drive from as far away as Santa Monica and the East San Gabriel Valley.

What denomination is it? 

TBI was founded as a Conservative congregation, but is no longer affiliated with any movement (such as Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, etc.) We are an independent synagogue with our own unique flavor. 

Okay, but what does that mean?
If you've ever been to a Conservative or Reconstructionist service before, you'll recognize some elements of TBI- our services include prayers in both Hebrew and English and a traditional Torah service (conducted in Hebrew with English guidance and explanations). Women are encouraged to participate equally in all the holiday rites and rituals. 

We encourage congregational participation- reading, singing, offering commentary on the weekly Torah portion, and even running portions of the service- but we make sure that everything is accessible to newcomers with transliterations of important prayers and blessings and our clergy offering a steady hand and guidance to anyone who wants to volunteer for the first time. 

Some members dress casually and some dress more formally, though we encourage the wearing of a Kippa and/or Tallit inside the sanctuary. While some of our members use electronic devices on Shabbat, we ask that cell phones be turned off or silenced inside the sanctuary on Shabbat and holidays. Our kitchen is not strictly Kosher, but it is dairy/vegetarian. Our Saturday morning Shabbat services typically see 20-40 members gather in the sanctuary, while Friday night services range from intimate gatherings of 10-20 to larger events of 50+ people. 

Do I have to be a member to attend services?

Not at first. 

Our doors and our zoom rooms are always open, and we encourage you to try before you buy; on a typical Saturday morning Shabbat service, we have at least one new neighbor come in to see what we're all about. Our services and events are a great way to get to know our community, to make some new friends and see what we keep talking about. You can introduce yourself to one of our members, and they may just do the same. We're a warm and welcoming community, and more than happy to answer questions about TBI, Highland Park, Jewish customs and community.

Our special events and holiday programs usually have non-member ticket prices and discounted ticket prices for members, and we are more than happy to have you. If you like our services and events, we encourage you to make it official and become a member, and though we rely on the generous support of our members we never let financial barriers get in the way of your participation. 

What is included with membership to TBI?

At TBI, membership has a couple of key benefits. Our members get free tickets to our High Holiday services and discounted tickets to events that we host throughout the year. Our Rabbi and Cantoral staff support members with life cycle events (b'nai mitzvah, baby naming, yahrtzeits, hospital visits, funerals, shiva, wedding and anniversary celebrations, etc.) and pastoral care, while our community rallies to support members in times of need such as through our Care Committee making regular calls and check-ins to members and their families during the LA County stay-at-home order. 

Members also participate in the direction and election of TBI leadership. After one year of membership, all members are eligible to run for the Board of Directors, and all members are able to vote in the election of their Board leadership. 

TBI advocates for its members within the Jewish community, and is always able to help connecting members to other Jewish organizations in LA and the San Gabriel Valley. 

I haven't been to a synagogue, or at least not in a long time. What are the do's and don'ts? 

Dress: at TBI, most members dress in business casual (typically something with a collar.) Some more traditional members will wear a jacket and tie, but some members (including Rabbi Rosner) prefer more expressive outfits. Colors and patterns are welcome!

Cellphones/Photography: during Shabbat and Jewish holidays, we ask that cellphones and photographic/recording devices not be used inside the Temple building (sanctuary and social hall.) We understand that for family, work or other reasons you may need to keep your cellphone on you- in these cases please keep it silent, and just step outside of the building to answer calls and messages.

While electronics are discouraged during observed holidays, at all other times we encourage you to Instagram to your heart's content- just please tag us too! A good rule of thumb is that if there is a service being led (by the Rabbi or Cantors) inside the sanctuary, it is likely best not to take pictures or use electronic devices inside the building. If you're not sure, just ask first.

Jewish Prayer Dress: all men are encouraged to wear kippot (skull caps) and women/children are welcome to wear them too. Tallitot (prayer shawls) are traditionally worn by anyone over the age of 13 at services in the daytime. Both kippot and tallitot are available at the back of the sanctuary.

Participation in Rituals: we are a hands-on synagogue, which means that if you attend enough services you will likely be offered to participate in a ritual. Some rituals require a bit of strength (like lifting the Torah scrolls) while some require a bit of training (like leading the Torah service), and the service leaders will usually look to those members that they know are able to perform them.

Some rituals, such as an Aliyah (reciting blessings over the Torah), or lighting Shabbat candles, are easier for anyone to do. If someone offers you a ritual that you don't feel comfortable performing, for any reason, you do not have to accept. You can politely decline to participate without any further explanation. If you want to learn on the spot or train for something more involved, our Rabbi, Cantors and leaders will help you every step of the way. 

Moving Around: feel free to get up and walk around our building and grounds during the service- you and your children don't need to sit still the whole time! We only ask that you are respectful of the service. If you need to move around or get some fresh air, we recommend a stroll through our landscaped grounds. The hammocks and furniture are there to be enjoyed!

Writing: to increase the sanctity of Jewish holidays, we discourage writing inside sacred spaces during Shabbat and holidays. If you want to exchange contact information with someone at the synagogue, it is polite to offer a business card rather than taking out your cellphone or a pen/pencil.

Animals: service animals only please!

My family is interfaith- are we still welcome?

Yes!

Interfaith families comprise a significant part of our membership. Interfaith families have been part of Jewish life continuously, from the beginning of our history, and we strive to make all members of any family feel at home at our services and events. All our prayer books have full English translations and we do our best to offer transliterations of important prayers and blessings,  while the Rabbi and Cantors offer context and explanation throughout.

Certain rituals are reserved for people who identify as Jewish. These rituals are: wearing a prayer shawl (tallit), reciting the blessing over the Torah, reading the Torah, and leading prayers in Hebrew or prayers that are English translations of traditional Jewish prayers. Interfaith partners are welcome to join their Jewish partner on the bima for the recitation of these prayers.

Everyone is welcome to join in a communal recitation of Jewish prayers or to respond with “amen.” Several parts of the service are open to everyone to lead: the prayer for peace, the prayer for the government, certain psalms, and poetry readings.

Are children welcome at all services?

Absolutely!

Children are welcome at all services. They are not expected to sit still the whole time, but should be respectful, and they don't need to wear a tie either. If your child needs a break from services, we have a comfortable library space outside the sanctuary with couches, toys and Jewish books, as well as outdoor resting areas within our landscaped grounds.  

We welcome children at TBI because we know how important it is to grow up feeling accepted in a synagogue space.

I'm not Jewish and I might be interested in conversion. What should I do?

You’re definitely welcome at TBI! We have a large community of Jews By Choice, and they will be happy to talk to you about their experiences.

First, you should attend some services and other events at TBI and get comfortable with the community. If you have questions about anything that’s happening, please ask - people are always happy to help. When you feel ready, talk to the Rabbi and he can point you toward conversion programs in the area (or the one that will begin soon at TBI). You will have support from the community throughout the process!

I'm not Jewish and I'm not interested in conversion. Am I still welcome?

Yes!

Judaism is a non-proselytizing religion, and you are welcome to participate in all events at TBI. However, certain rituals are reserved for people who identify as Jewish. These rituals are: wearing a prayer shawl, reciting the blessing over the Torah, reading the Torah, and leading prayers in Hebrew or prayers that are English translations of traditional Jewish prayers.

If your partner is Jewish and has a ritual to perform on the bima, you are more than welcome to join them. If you are offered a ritual by someone in the congregation and you do not identify as Jewish, it is customary to politely decline.

That said, we absolutely want you to join in our celebrations. We do our very best to have translations and transliterations of Hebrew prayers on hand, and we are always willing and able to explain the elements of the services and holidays.

I keep hearing people say that TBI is community-driven. What does that mean?

At TBI, our members are what make the community what it is. Members are invited to get involved with all parts of the community, including:
• Giving a drash (a speech about the Torah portion) during Shabbat morning services 
• Helping in the kitchen to prepare food for Kiddush lunches, Shabbat dinners, and other events
• Helping with children’s classes at the Torah school or on holidays
• Planning events and giving input on liturgy - if there’s a holiday, theme, or part of the service you love that we’re missing, we encourage you to make it happen!

If any of these ideas speaks to you, check out the next question to see how to get involved.

How do I get involved? 

Glad you asked!

Read our newsletters and social media to find out about events, programs, and volunteer opportunities. When you find something you’re excited about, email admin@tbila.org. Tell us your area of interest and we will connect you to the person or committee where you can join in.

Thu, August 6 2020 16 Av 5780