FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
Can you assist me with Website Support?
For website support including login/password assistance, billing, and submitting content to be posted on shaarai.org, please click here.
Where is the Temple located?
We are located at 75 E. James Street, Lancaster, PA 17602. If you are coming to visit us, please note that the building is on the corner of E. James Street and N. Duke Street. The main entrance to the building, which is handicap accessible, is on E. James Street. There is also an entrance on N. Duke Street that leads upstairs to the sanctuary and downstairs to the social hall. The handicap accessible entrance to the social hall is to the right of the main entrance on N. Duke Street -- look for the glass doors on N. Duke Street.
When are services held?
Shaarai Shomayim offers a variety of worship services including Shabbat Services, Family Services, and Special Services. Click here for details about upcoming services.
When was the Congregation founded?
On November 17, 1856, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania granted a charter to Congregation Shaarai Shomayim. We moved into our first building in 1867 and our current building was built in 1896. Our cemetery was purchased in 1747.
Is Congregation Shaarai Shomayim affiliated with any of the Jewish movements?
We have been a proud member of the Union for Reform Judaism (formerly known as the Union for American Hebrew Congregations) since 1888.
Who is your Rabbi?
Rabbi Jack Paskoff has been the congregation's leader since 1993. He was ordained at Hebrew Union College- Jewish Institute of Religion in 1988. Click here to learn more about Rabbi Paskoff and read his weekly messages to the Temple Family.
What do I need to know about becoming Bar or Bat Mitzvah?
Our students celebrate becoming Bar or Bat Mitzvah by helping to lead Shabbat services and chanting from the Torah and Haftarah when they are 13 years old. Hebrew language study begins in third grade and our Religious School has programs for students from 6 months through 12th grade. Our students are confirmed upon completion of our Confirmation program in 12th grade.
Parents of students with special needs are encouraged to contact Rabbi Paskoff, so that your child can mark these milestones in a meaningful way.
Shaarai Shomayim also holds a number of adult b'nai mitzvah for adults who did not have the opportunity to celebrate this milestone at 13 years old. For more information, please contact the Main Office.
Why is this congregation different from all other congregations?
Many congregations say that they are "warm and welcoming." Well, we really are. Come to a Friday night service and you will be welcomed to our service at the door of our sanctuary. After we greet the Shabbat Bride by singing Lecha Dodi, we take time to greet each other and meet new people. Join us for oneg and you won't be by yourself. Someone will join you at a table or invite you to theirs. No one is "assigned" these roles during oneg; it's just who we are as a congregation. The behavior is contagious and you will soon be the one who is welcoming a newcomer.
The Jewish population in Lancaster County is definitely a minority. As one of our confirmands said, "there are more farms in my hometown than Jews." However, our congregation plays a very large role in creating Jewish experiences and friendships for our members. Many of our students continue on from Bar/Bat Mitzvah to confirmation in 12th grade because they want to continue their relationships with their Jewish friends. Of course, it helps that we also have an excellent educational program!
There are many programs, both educational and social, for members of all ages. There is an opportunity to learn and study almost every day of the week. Explore the website to see how you can get involved with Shaarai and the Temple Family.