What is Jewry Duty?

Our community thrives because our members are “there for each other”.  And whether it’s enriching each others Shabbat celebrations, arranging for a Kiddush lunch, or making sure that there’s a minyan for those who wish to say Kaddish, it’s about providing our members an experience.

Jewry Duty is just one of the ways that we take care of each other.  Members sign up for specific dates or services, and make sure that everything is as it should be.

Is it required?  Of course not!  We realize that some people can’t assume the responsibility, and many of those that do sign up are already regular attendees for Shabbat.  It’s about giving back where & when you can!

Ready to Volunteer?

Coordinating all of these volunteers can get a little complicated, so we use a third-party website, “Lotsa Helping Hands”, to coordinate all of our Jewry Duty volunteers.  Please browse the questions below to learn more about Jewry Duty and how to sign up, or download a printable document with all of the information.

Please Note:  The information below is intended for our current synagogue members who are ready to volunteer, but we welcome anyone who is interested in learning more about Jewry Duty to browse the information.  We’re always happy to answer any questions you may have.

We use an online volunteer-scheduling program, LotsaHelpingHands.com.  To use the program to sign up for your dates, go to www.lotsahelpinghands.com/c/644418 (Note that none of the information has changed from previous years.  If you have a LotsaHelpingHands log-in and know how to use the system, please go ahead and sign up for your 7-9 dates. Thanks!)

If you have never registered at LOTSA, follow the prompts to do so once you go to the site www.lotsahelpinghands.com/c/644418 (it’s easy).  Our office administrator will receive an e-mail that you have registered, and she will be sure your account is up and running.  Once that happens (you’ll receive notification via email), simply head back to the LOTSA site to begin choosing your Jewry Duty dates.  From the home page, click on the “CALENDAR” tab, then Choose our 5780 calendar from the drop-down menu.  Scroll through the months by clicking on the forward arrows at the top of each calendar.  Click on the green square when you are ready to sign up for a date.  (Green squares mean a volunteer is needed for that date and time, light blue squares mean a volunteer has signed up for that date and time).

We know that some of our members just don’t get along that well with computers, or would prefer not entering their personal information.  If you’re one of them, please just choose potential dates, call the office (860-423-3743) with them in hand, and our office administrator will be happy to sign you up.

Food Expectations: First, please remember that the main point of Jewry Duty is ensuring minyan, not food. So, especially for our “regular services,” be as simple or elaborate as you want. A traditional kiddush is just wine or grape juice (provided by the Temple) and a baked good. You can bring that or much more.

We have service regulars who are gluten-free, so it’s nice to include something gluten-free. And, to make life easier on members with severe nut allergies, please make an effort not to bring peanuts or tree-nuts, or foods containing nuts. Please also follow our Temple’s Kashrut Policy, which you’ll find below.

Regular rotation of services (deviations will be noted on the LOTSA calendar):

1st Friday of the month: Relatively traditional services at 7:30pm: regular kiddush refreshments.

2nd Friday: T.G.I.Shabbes: A wine & cheese musical celebration to welcome Shabbat and the weekend at 6:15pm: Jewry Duty brings appropriate “wine and cheese” items. Certain of our members tend to be sufficiently elaborate that no one has dinner afterwards. Others are more limited. Either is ok. Please note: This isn’t the time for the Temple’s Manischewitz. Jewry Duty should bring a red and a white, which need not have a kosher stamp, as all wines are considered kosher in the Temple kashrut system. Rav Jeremy provides an Israeli wine that does have kosher certification for those who prefer that.

3rd Friday: Tikkun Olam VaNefesh Service: a service for healing the soul and healing the world at 7:30pm: regular kiddush refreshments.

4th Friday: Shabbes dinner, usually at a member’s home, 6:30pm: We’ll be looking for a host (who has the option of providing a main course, purchasing with donated Temple funds, or simply hosting a pot luck), as well as a second Jewry Duty volunteer to help.

5th Fridays “Leader’s Choice” at 7:30pm. Rav Jeremy or a volunteer leader from the Temple membership chooses what sort of Shabbat celebration to do. It could be a kumzitz, a discussion, a service, or something else: regular kiddush refreshments.

1st Saturday: Bagel and Bible: NOTE:  THE TEMPLE WILL NOW PROVIDE BAGELS AND CREAM CHEESE FOR THIS.  Jewry Duty participants provide any extra fixings the desire, and regular kiddush for after services.  All other Saturday mornings: Service at 10:00am: regular kiddush refreshments. 

Optional guidance for choosing dates: Many people sign up for dates based on an anniversary, birthday, yahrzeit, or other occasion. Your family’s Yahrzeit dates are enclosed.  Yahrzeits are read the Shabbat previous to the yahrzeit date, unless the date falls on Shabbat, in which case it is read on that day.  Many people also have a preference for the type of Shabbat celebration they want to sign up for. See the above rotation, but be sure to check the calendar for any changes to the regular rotation due to holidays or special events.

We ask that you please find someone who will switch with you or fill in for you, if at all possible. Remember that dropping off food doesn’t help with minyan.  Since it occasionally becomes necessary to contact Jewry Duty members, we ask that if there is enough advance time, you remove your name from the LotsaHelpingHands calendar and your replacement add theirs.  If you’re unable to find a replacement, please let our office administrator know.

A basic summary of our current Kashrut Policy:

  • We’re usually vegetarian/pescatarian. (If you want to serve mammal meat, talk to the rabbi.)
  • All veggie/dairy foods that are not cooked are OK.
  • All veggie/dairy industrially produced foods are OK, whether certified kosher or not.
  • All veggie/dairy foods with a hechsher (a registered mark certifying kashrut) are also OK, whether or not “industrially produced.”
  • Kosher fish (fish that had fins and scales) is considered “veggie/dairy” for the purpose of Temple Bnai Israel kashrut.
  • Blood, including blood spots on eggs, is not kosher at Temple Bnai Israel.

We honor the tradition of making even our utensils part of a life of holiness by observing the following restrictions for food produced at home

  • If a plastic or ceramic utensil has ever come into contact with burning hot meat (or meat product), it cannot come in contact with burning hot food that is to be brought to the Temple.
  • If a wood, glass, or metal utensil has ever come into contact with burning hot meat (or meat product), it must be washed in scalding water before contacting burning hot food to be brought to the Temple.

These restrictions do require thought and attention, but it is the intent of the Ritual Committee that food can be relatively easily brought from home.

A note about Shabbat policy relevant to food:
While we recognize that our members are quite diverse in their individual or family practice of Shabbat, our in-synagogue practice as-a-community states, “On Shabbat, we avoid commerce and the objectification of people.  By objectification, we mean using people as tools – that is in the roles they perform in the work-a-day world.” In keeping with that policy, we prefer that Jewry Duty members not purchase their refreshments on Shabbat, which we consider to be using the workers at the bagel shop/grocery store in their work-a-day roles.

Download our Jewry Duty Information Document