Stanmore and Canons Park Synagogue
Stanmore and Canons Park Synagogue

Visiting Stanmore

Visiting Stanmore
Welcome to Stanmore & Canons Park Synagogue.

It is traditional to celebrate the important milestones in our members' lives - Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, Engagements and Weddings - and we welcome you to our Synagogue to take part in those celebrations with your family and friends.

If you are not familiar with our services please click the appropriate tab below for a brief explanation of the Stanmore experience.

We do hope you will enjoy our service, and feel inspired by it - and that the brief notes below will be useful, and will help you to understand at least part of what takes place.

Please do not bring any mobile phones, cameras or recording devices into the Synagogue as they are forbidden on the Sabbath.

This table was donated by the Harding family to celebrate Anita's 100th Birthday on 31 October 2015.


Seeing a barmitzvah boy take his place as a young adult in the Synagogue, or "Shul", puts things into perspective. This week's celebration is an important step in his life and has immense religious significance. It is on this Shabbat (Sabbath) that he becomes an adult in the Jewish world.

Inside Stanmore Synagogue When entering the Synagogue, you will see that men and women sit separately with the men sitting downstairs and the women sitting upstairs. All men must have their heads covered and usually wear a skull cap which is normally called a "cupple" or "kippa". Men also wear a prayer shawl or "tallit", but it is not necessary for you to do so.

All married women cover their heads too, usually with a hat but a scarf is sufficient. Young girls and unmarried young women do not need to do this, although some of them feel they wish to.

The layout of the Synagogue may be of some interest to a visitor and this is described below.

Aron Kodesh At the front of the Synagogue is the "Ark" which in Hebrew is called the "Aron Kodesh", which is covered by a velvet, fringed curtain, and in this synagogue by metal gates as well.

Just in front of the Ark is a perpetual light which is called "Ner Tamid" and this is kept alight throughout the entire year, to remind us of the Menorah or candelabra in the Temple in Jerusalem.

Sefer Torah The Scrolls of the Law ("Sifrei Torah") are kept inside the Ark and each one contains the entire five books of Moses, being the first five books of the bible.

These scrolls are handwritten in the most perfect manner on parchment and the parchments are sewn together to make the scroll which also has two wooden end pieces which are used to hold and handle the scroll. Each scroll is beautifully covered with a velvet and gold embroidered mantle, a silver breast plate, a silver "pointer", used to assist in reading from the scroll as it is not permitted to actually touch the scroll with one's hand, and silver bells or a crown on top.

Sefer Torah At the appropriate time in the service, our Barmitzvah will be 'called up' by his Hebrew name and will read from the Scroll. The words contain no vowels or musical notes. In order to become familiar with the scroll and the weekly portion, as well as the way to sing the words, a long preparation period of many months is essential.
Rabbi's seat On either side of the Ark are two seats, on the left for the Senior Rabbi and on the right for another Rabbi or Chazan (Cantor).

Immediately in front of them is the reading desk on which the holy books and scrolls are placed.

At Stanmore & Canons Park Synagogue:

Rabbi Mendel Lew Our Senior Rabbi is
Rabbi Mendel Lew
Chazan Jonny Turgel Our Chazan is
Chazan Jonny Turgel
wardens The Wardens of the Synagogue, who organise the service and are part of the lay leadership Executive, sit immediately to the right of the raised "Bimah" area so that they can be recognised easily.
prayer shawl You will see men wearing a prayer shawl or "tallit". This consists of a square woollen garment, with fringes on the corners and this is worn in response to the commandment contained in Numbers Chapter 15, verses 37–41 which says "speak to the Children of Israel and bid them that they make a fringe upon the corners of their garments throughout their generations".
Daily Prayer Book For men and women, the "Siddur" (daily prayer book) and "Chumash" (the Five Books of Moses) will normally be found in the holder in front of each seat. The "Siddur" or prayer book is known affectionately as "the Singer's" after Reverend Simeon Singer who prepared the first English version having translated it from the Hebrew of previous eras.

There have been numerous subsequent editions and the latest that we have is the "green" Chief Rabbi's Edition. Page references are given below. This "Siddur" or prayer book contains most prayers that would be recited throughout the year.

Chumash You can follow the Reading of the Law, otherwise called "Torah" (see below) in the 'Hertz' Chumash - which contains the Five Books of Moses in Hebrew and English - and the correct page number can be found in the Weekly Newssheet on a shelf towards the back of the Synagogue.

The current page and verse number will also be called out by The Rabbi during the progress of the reading of the Law.

Our service commences at 9.00 a.m. and will finish about 12:00 noon. The service runs as follows:

  • Commencement: Pages 2–34 and 322–380
  • The "Shema" – the special three paragraphs from the books of Numbers and Deuteronomy have immense significance. The men recite the prayer with all four of the fringes in their hands, and when it is completed, kiss the fringes from the prayer shawl. Pages 382–384
  • The next prayer is called the "Amidah", standing prayer which is first recited silently and then repeated by the Chazan. Pages 390–402
  • Next is the most interesting part of the service when the Ark is opened and the scroll removed prior to reading the weekly portion. Pages 404–408
  • The Scroll is carried round the synagogue in procession and then the silver and mantle removed and it is placed on the desk when it is now permitted to sit down. The reading from the scroll may be found in the larger book called the "Chumash" and the portion and page number will be in this week's newssheet, a copy of which is can be found on or near your seat.
  • Various people are then formally called to the reading desk, a portion is read, and any necessary occasion marked and mentioned. Blessings are said both before and after the person is called. Only male adults are called and have to be over 13 years of age, and thus the importance of today for our Barmitzvah.
  • Once a boy reaches the age of 13, he becomes an adult in Jewish law and can be included in all Jewish traditions and rituals. In particular, certain prayers cannot be recited unless there is a quorum of ten males over the age of 13.
  • Our Barmitzvah will be called to the reading of the Law, otherwise called "Torah" and will recite the parts he has worked so hard to achieve to perfection over the last few months.
  • Once this part of the service is complete, the scroll will be lifted which is an honour and another honour will be given to the person who has the duty to replace all the items belonging to it, namely the mantle, the silver breast plate, the pointer and lastly the bells or a crown.
  • Once this is over, the Barmitzvah will read another portion from the Chumash.
  • The service then moves on to a very important prayer for the good health and safety of our Royal Family, for the State of Israel and special prayers are often said around this time for the recovery of members who may be unwell at this time and also to remember the anniversary of those who may have passed away at around the same time of year but in previous years. Pages 420–422
  • The time soon comes for the Rabbi's sermon which you will be pleased to hear is in English and our Barmitzvah will then be presented with a book and one or more certificates for his studies. A small choir then sings to him about listening to his parents and their teachings.
  • The service continues with a further silent "Amidah" prayer which is contained within the "Additional Service" and is only recited on the Sabbath and festivals. Again after the silent part, the Cantor sings the prayers. Pages 434–448.
  • The Hymn of Glory, a beautiful poem, is then sung. Pages 458–462 This is followed by the final hymn. Page 464
  • kiddush After some brief communal announcements, everyone wishes everyone else a "Good Shabbos" or "Shabbat Shalom" meaning a "peaceful Sabbath" and moves into the Freeman Susman Hall on the first floor of the building where a Kiddush is to be given. You will see this consists of snacks and drinks which should be enjoyed by all. People will also wish the Barmitzvah boy and his family "mazal tov" which basically means "congratulations" (literally "good luck").

    Please do not eat or drink until the "Kiddush" prayer has been recited by the Rabbi or Chazan.
Bat Mitzvah

A Batmitzvah girl taking her place as a young adult in the Synagogue is a very special experience for her and her family.

This celebration is an important step in her life and has immense religious significance. It is on this Shabbat (Sabbath) that the Batmitzvah girl becomes a woman in the Jewish World.

The main difference between a barmitzvah and batmitzvah is that ladies and girls are not 'called up' to the reading of the Torah (scroll of the Law) in an orthodox synagogue.

Just before the end of the Shabbat morning service, the Batmitzvah girl will be escorted into the men's section of the synagogue by her parents, accompanied by our choir singing a welcome hymn. She will then give a "D'Var Torah" from the Bimah to the community, which is a speech connected to the story in that week's Torah reading.

At the conclusion of her speech, the Batmitzvah girl will recite a special Batmitzvah prayer in both Hebrew and English.

The Rabbi will then make an address to the Batmitzvah, and give her a special blessing.

The service continues with the final Adon Olam hymn on page 464 of the green siddur (prayer book).

Please read the contents of the Barmitzvah tab on this page for an explanation of the Sabbath morning service.

Call Up

It is customary for a Groom to be 'called up' to the reading of the Torah in Synagogue on the Sabbath of his engagement announcement and again on the Sabbath prior to the couple's wedding.

After the reading of his 'portion' the Rabbi will bless the couple with good health, happiness and prosperity.

Please read the contents of the Barmitzvah tab on this page for an explanation of the Sabbath morning service.

Special Seating

When entering the Synagogue, you will see that men and women sit separately with the men sitting downstairs and the women sitting upstairs.

Wheelchair access for ladies However we have additional seating for elderly or disabled ladies and their female carer/companions, downstairs at the rear of the men's section of the Synagogue, behind the mechitza (separation).

This area is found when entering through the left hand doors in the synagogue foyer - and there is ample space for wheelchair users in this area.

Wheelchair access for men There is a similar area for male wheelchair users immediately on entering through the right hand doors in the synagogue foyer.

There is a lift adjacent to the Freeman Susman Hall staircase.

On Shabbat and Yom Tov (Sabbath & Festivals) the lift will operate on automatic 'Shabbat' mode.

However please note:

  • The lift is ONLY for the use of disabled people and the elderly - and must only be used by those who are unable to walk up the stairs.
  • The maximum capacity is two people (including one wheelchair, if required) at any one time.
  • When in automatic mode the lift must be allowed to operate without assistance - the door will open and close very slowly and must not be pushed or pulled as this will damage the mechanism.

Please read the contents of the Barmitzvah tab on this page for an explanation of the Sabbath morning service.

Decorum & Etiquette

We know that these special occasions are a highlight in the life of every family and it is always very exciting to have so many family and friends in Shul.

However, we must ensure that appropriate levels of decorum are maintained at all times for the benefit of our members and also to reflect the importance of the synagogue services and the prayers being recited.

We, therefore, kindly request that guests come in and out of the Synagogue at appropriate times - and wait by the door if requested by our Stewards at key times such as during the Sermon, during the "Kedusha" prayers or when the Ark may be open.

In addition, it is kindly requested that all guests are appropriately dressed - and for married women to wear hats/head coverings during all Shul services.

Please note that it is absolutely essential that all electronic devices are left at home or switched off. These must not be taken out or used during any of the Synagogue services or whilst on the Synagogue premises.

We do hope that we can rely on your co-operation to ensure that the celebration is enjoyed by the whole community.

We wish you "Shabbat Shalom" - a restful and peaceful Sabbath.