Who We Are

Frequently Asked Questions

What does it mean to be Jewish?
What is a “Reform” congregation?
How do I pursue conversion to Judaism?
Do I have to be a member to attend services?
How do I rent or reserve Temple Emanuel facilities?
Who do I contact about Jewish lifecycle events including weddings, b’nei mitzvah, brises/baby namings and funerals?
Where can I find kosher restaurants and grocery stores?
How many Jewish people live in Winston-Salem?


What does it mean to be Jewish?

What does it mean to be Jewish? It means: being mentsches (good people), connecting to traditions that are rooted in a 3,000-year-old people, and working as partners with God in perfecting this world. Being Jewish means exploring our soulful lives and giving thanks for the Creation in which we live. Being Jewish means opening our hearts, minds, and hands to our neighbors and helping those in need. Being Jewish means finding ways to understand our ancient texts in light of antiquity, tradition, and modernity. Being Jewish means struggling with the nature of God and how we understand God and godliness. Being Jewish means seeing the Divine in all Creation and our oneness with each other.

What is a “Reform” congregation?

Speaking in very broad strokes, until the 1800s, variations among Jews were regional. Being Jewish as a whole, though, meant adhering to the Torah (Jewish law and customs) as divinely-given and obligatory. In the 19th century, namely in western Europe and North America, Jews began to reform Jewish practice and ideas — emphasizing the commandedness of the ethical commandments (love your neighbor as yourself, honor your mother and father, don’t murder…) and de-emphasizing and no longer seeing as obligatory the ritual commandments (kosher laws, strict holiday observances, and ancients practices). Reform sought to make worship egalitarian and allow for modernity to enter the practice. Our synagogue is in the line of reformers who, over the last 200 years, have worked to make Judaism meaningful and relevant for the era while keeping an eye on tradition and earlier practices.

How do I pursue conversion to Judaism?

Come talk to Rabbi Mark. He will guide you through opening conversations and questions to consider. The conversion process lasts roughly one year, to allow the conversion student to experience the length and breadth of the Jewish calendar. There are one-on-one meetings with the rabbi, group sessions with fellow conversion candidates (and recently converted Jews), and engagement with the synagogue community, with ample study and learning.

Do I have to be a member to attend services?

Everyone is welcome to attend services at Temple Emanuel.  You do not need to be an “official” member to attend. In fact, we often have Jewish and non-Jewish visitors who come to learn, to pray, to celebrate, and to experience Jewish life in our community.

How do I rent or reserve Temple Emanuel facilities?

In order to reserve our facilities for a special event, please submit this form with some more information, or contact contact the office at (336) 722-6640 for more information about rentals.

Who do I contact about Jewish lifecycle events including weddings, b’nei mitzvah, brises/baby namings and funerals?

Contact Rabbi Mark to learn more, as he will want to help you by answering your questions and asking questions you might not have yet considered.

Where can I find kosher restaurants and grocery stores?

New York City we are not. So, a kosher restaurant or store does not exist in Winston-Salem. However, the major supermarkets all carry brands that are certified kosher, and our local bagel shop, The Bagel Station, has bagels that are certified kosher by our rabbi and a Conservative rabbi from Greensboro.

How many Jewish people live in Winston-Salem?

Our best estimate, based on national Jewish population surveys and affiliation rates, tells us we have approximately 1,000–1,500 Jews living in Forsyth County. Winston-Salem is a city of roughly 220,000 people and the county as a whole is approximately 350,000.


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