General FAQs

How do I request visits/prayers when someone is ill?
Hospitals no longer notify clergy of their congregants’ admission as patients, due to privacy laws, so we are completely dependent upon you to call us and let us know the names of loved ones who are ill or having surgery.

We want to remember them in our prayers and our clergy would like to call or visit them. We regularly visit all of the local hospitals as well as visit the infirm in their homes. Bikkur Cholim – visiting the sick – is a mitzvah (a commandment and righteous act) in our tradition, and we take these visits very seriously.

Each Shabbat morning and each time we take out the Torah during weekday services, we offer a MiSheberach (“may the One who blessed”) prayer for those who are sick. The prayers ask God to watch over them and grant them health of body, spirit and mind, together with all others who are ill. We also maintain a list of people for whom we pray regularly.

When we offer prayers for the sick, we usually mention the individual’s Hebrew name together with his/her mother’s name. For example, if one’s Hebrew name is Yitzhak and his mother’s Hebrew name is Sarah, we would offer the prayer on behalf of Yitzhak ben (“son of”) Sarah. If you do not know the Hebrew name, we can also mention the English name in our prayers.

To add a name(s) to the list, please submit in Hebrew or English by contacting Assistant Cantor Leonard Gutman at

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How do I plan my child’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah?
A child’s Bar or Bat Mitzvah is one of the most memorable days in his or her life – and your family’s. Participating in Shabbat services from the front pews of the sanctuary while the congregation welcomes your child to Jewish adulthood is a momentous occasion. At Shaarey Zedek, we are pleased to set the date of your child’s Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah six months after your child’s seventh birthday.

Our B’nai Mitzvah students begin to study with a tutor 10 – 12 months prior to their simcha. All our B’nai Mitzvah must perform 13 hours of community service, which they may select from these three categories.

Tzedakah – Acts of Righteousness:
Donations made by your child to a charity of his or her choice.

Avodah – Service to the Synagogue:
Your child may volunteer to work in various areas of the synagogue such as the summer camp, the mail room, the school office, the library, by babysitting during Shabbat services and so on.

G’milut Chasadim – Acts of Loving Kindness:
This service of performing good deeds to benefit the community at large includes volunteering at a JARC home, a food pantry, a nursing home, Yad Ezra, or another venue in the community.

To set the date or for more information, please contact Marci Iwrey at

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How do I make plans in connection with a death?

Baruch Dayan HaEmet – “Blessed is the True Judge” – are the traditional words recited upon hearing the news of someone’s passing. This difficult time is one with many logistical considerations – planning a funeral, meeting with the rabbi, contacting friends and relatives. Please let your rabbis know how we can be of support.

The rabbi will meet with you and your family to begin the process of memory by reflecting on the life of your loved one. In addition, the rabbi will answer your questions pertaining to the Jewish laws and customs of mourning.

The three area funeral homes all work closely with us to plan a service that provides comfort and support to family and friends. You may contact the funeral home of your choice before or after you contact our clergy.

Ira Kaufman Chapel – 248.569.0020
Hebrew Memorial – 248.543.1622
Dorfman Funeral Home – 248.406.6000

The funeral homes can arrange for burial at any Jewish cemetery. Congregation Shaarey Zedek maintains its own beautiful, reflective place to honor the deceased – Clover Hill Park Cemetery. For more information on Clover Hill Park Cemetery, please go to or contact Clover Hill Executive Director Kim Raznik at 248.723.8884.

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How do I make my kitchen kosher?

Our rabbis would be delighted to help you kasher your home. Observing the Jewish Dietary Laws of Kashrut is a powerful and constant and conscious reminder of our heritage.

Eating the way Jews have for thousands of years is a practice that connects us to the traditions of the Bible at every meal.

Consult one of our rabbis for the specifics of creating and equipping a kosher home. We can also guide you in keeping the dietary laws of kashrut when dining away from home. Call 248.357.5544 or e-mail or with your questions.

For more information on establishing a kosher kitchen, visit My Jewish Learning.

You might also reference this book: The Jewish Dietary Laws: Their Meaning for Our Time, by Samuel H. Dresner, and A Guide to Observance, by Seymour Siegel (Burning Bush Press, 1959). Brief introductions to themes and practices from a Conservative viewpoint. Two works in one small booklet.

For additional information, visit the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism by clicking here.

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How do I keep my college kid in the CSZ loop?

We’d love to stay in touch! First, make sure we know your child’s current school address.

Our clergy periodically visit the local campuses to spend time with college-age congregants, bringing along a kosher dinner to enjoy.

Please let us know your child’s campus address – and make sure to update it every Fall so that we can maintain a connection to the young adults in our Shaarey Zedek community.

Contact Elise Gechter at

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How do I plan for the birth of my child?

In the Jewish tradition, the proper greeting for such news is b’sha’ah tovah – a prayer that a healthy child be born at the proper time.

Please contact one of our rabbis to help with the selection of a Hebrew name, for help and information in planning a baby naming or brit milah, and to determine if a pidyon ha-ben (redemption of the first-born) ceremony is necessary. Contact Rabbi Aaron Starr at or Rabbi Yonatan Dahlen at

Jewish tradition requires that a baby boy be circumcised on the eighth day of life, provided that there are no health concerns. Please contact a mohel, who is specially trained to perform this mitzvah. Our offices have the contact information for some of our local mohalim. You are invited to celebrate your son’s brit milah in one of our many beautiful synagogue spaces.

To reserve a space at CSZ, please contact Robert Rich at In addition, our rabbis can help you celebrate this milestone by co-officiating with the mohel and offering words of blessing.

In recent years, Jewish tradition has embraced several innovative naming ceremonies to officially welcome a baby girl into the Jewish People. These include a baby naming, where the infant and her parents are called to the Torah during a Shabbat morning service, and a separate simchat bat ceremony which can be officiated by a rabbi.

Please contact one of our rabbis for help in planning a ceremony.

To schedule a baby naming at the Torah during Shabbat services, please contact Assistant Cantor Leonard Gutman at

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How do I plan my child’s Jewish education?

To provide Jewish experiences and learning for children grades K-7, we run a Religious School that meets twice per week. Contact Ari Reis at for information on our program, and/or enrollment forms.

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How do I volunteer?

Whether you’re looking to volunteer just once or on a regular basis, Congregation Shaarey Zedek is a place where you can truly make a difference. There are a variety of volunteer opportunities from which to choose:

  • Programming
  • Office Assistance
  • Library Support
  • and much more…

Contact Elise Gechter at to volunteer or to learn more.

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