When asked what kind of congregation Shaarei Zedeck is, members are often thrown into confusion. Although officially a Conservative synagogue, the practices of its members run the gamut from rather traditional to more liberal. The best answer seems to be that it is “The Clinton Shul” (shul means synagogue in Yiddish), welcoming all Jews in the area.
The Clinton shul is unique in many ways. Perhaps the most noticeable to first-time visitors is that there is no Rabbi. Members all participate in the service. This means we take turns learning Torah portions and pieces of the service, or preparing the Saturday morning talk. Because we have all been up on the “bimah” (the raised platform where the service is conducted) ourselves, we are always most tolerant of the efforts of all participants.
We ask that men wear a “kippa” (head covering) while in the sanctuary. Everyone who comes up to the bimah should wear a “talit” (prayer shawl). Kippot (plural of kippa) and talitot (plural of talit) can be found in the cabinet at the back of the sanctuary.
Services begin at 7:45 a.m. on Saturday mornings, and generally run about one and a half to two hours. A minimum of ten adults is necessary to conduct services. Many in the congregation have breakfast together at a nearby café following services.