Below is an actual conversation we recently had in our office on a Monday morning:
Steven: Hi, Jamie. How was your weekend?
Jamie: Very nice. I went to a Bat Mitzvah at Synagogue ABC on Sunday.
Steven: So, how welcoming was it?
Jamie: Well, when I entered, I was a bit confused about where to go, and a maintenance worker helpfully came up and told me to go upstairs.
Steven: Oh, so very welcoming.
Jamie: Well, when I sat down, no one said anything to me. And then the cantor started the service by saying, “Turn to page 62…” without saying which book. He moved very quickly through the service with brief references to page numbers, so I was lost a lot. There were people there who seemed to know what was happening – I could tell they were regulars.
Steven: So, not unwelcoming, but there were some things that might have left a newcomer feeling a bit intimidated or out of place.
Jamie: Exactly. Have you ever been there?
Steven: Actually, I went there several years ago on a Friday night with my wife, just to check it out. She’s Chinese-American and not Jewish, and I noticed when we sat down, someone quickly came over to us and offered us a transliterated copy of the prayer book, which was very nice. So I always had a very positive impression of the synagogue.
The above conversation could be an example of how people talk about your synagogue or Jewish institution. And it demonstrates some of the little things that can have a big impact on people’s experience and impressions. Your maintenance worker; making clear which book you’re using, as well as mentioning the page number; offering a transliterated copy of the prayer book.