Frequently Asked Questions

Table of Contents
Beliefs
Members
Religion
Marriage
Brit Milah
Miscellaneous

Beliefs

What is Liberal Judaism?
Liberal Judaism is a modern form of Judaism. It is a movement that welcomes everyone who wants to learn more about their heritage while respecting their personal freedom. We are connected by the traditions that marked our families for generations but most importantly, by the values that are shared by everyone willing to accept one another.

We believe that each person connects to Judaism differently and we enjoy cultivating that connection, be it in the form of prayer, tradition, or culture.

What movement are you affiliated with?
Although historically each Jewish community is autonomous, our Community is voluntarily united in common purpose with other liberal communities through the World Union for Progressive Judaism and its regional network of the European Union for Progressive Judaism. The term “Liberal” is traditionally used in continental Europe to denote our denomination of Judaism, “Reform” is the preferred term in North America.

Are you open to interfaith families?
Yes, we support the inclusion of couples and families with mixed backgrounds into the life of our community.

Do you keep kosher?
Yes. Only kosher (including vegan) food is permitted in the synagogue building or served at community-sponsored functions and activities, regardless of location. One may cook dairy or parve food at home and bring it to the synagogue for private or group consumption. In keeping with common Conservative and liberal practice, all domestic cheese and all wines are permitted for consumption. We do not use wine without rabbinic supervision for rituals at the synagogue.

What is your position on LGBTQ issues?
We pledge to fulfil a commitment to an inclusive community, opening doors to Jewish life to all regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity and to varied kinds of families. Liberal Judaism supports marriage equality and equal access to rabbinic ordination irrespective of gender or sexual orientation.

Members

Can non-Jews become members?
We offer two options to join our community: full membership for Jews and associate for non-Jews. Only full members can vote and be elected to the board.

What if I cannot afford membership fee?
No one will be turned away for financial considerations. Please, discuss your situation either with the president or with the rabbi.

Do I have to become a member to attend the services?
No, we only ask that you contact us beforehand. Once you start attending, you may consider joining us formally, but this is ultimately your decision.

I have never visited your synagogue, may I pop up without registration?
No. If this is your first time coming to our synagogue, you should register by emailing the Rabbi.

Religion

Do I have to be Jewish to visit your Synagogue?
No. Please, contact us to arrange a visit.

Who is Jewish according to your formal standards?
We follow the traditional definition of the Jewish status: a Jew is either a child of a Jewish mother or a person converted through a recognised Bet Din (rabbinical court).

My father is Jewish, am I Jewish enough for you?
Children of Jewish fathers and non-Jewish mothers are encouraged to clarify their status through the formal recognition under the guidance of our rabbi.

I was born as a non-Jew, but I would like to join Judaism and Jewish people, is it possible?
Of course. For more details, click here.

Does your Rabbi perform weddings, baby naming, etc.?
Yes. For more details, click here.

Can you help organise a Brit Milah?
Yes, you can either contact our Rabbi, or simply click here for more information.

Do you have a mikveh?
No. The synagogue in Luxembourg City has one. Our rabbi is available to give guidance on this matter.

Marriage

What is the difference between a Liberal wedding ceremony and one in an Orthodox synagogue?
All the things that people enjoy about a traditional Jewish wedding – including chuppah, Ketubah, Hebrew songs, traditional Hebrew phrases, breaking of glass and drinking of wine – are all also key parts of a Liberal Jewish wedding.

The main distinction is that a Liberal wedding is fully egalitarian, meaning that both participants – whether of the opposite or same genders – say and commit themselves to the same ritual Jewish phrases and they exchange rings.

In an Orthodox wedding, typically only the groom gives the bride a ring and she does not speak. An Orthodox synagogue would also not marry a couple of the same gender.

Do I have to get married in a synagogue, or can I get married in another venue?
You can perform a religious wedding ceremony in any venue which you agree with our Rabbi. It does not need to be a synagogue.

Are same gender wedding ceremonies different from wedding ceremonies between a man and a woman?
No. There is no difference. Marriage is marriage. As for any rituals that were, traditionally, reserved for bride or groom – both same and opposite gender couples can discuss, with their rabbi, ways to incorporate these. 

Do I have to be a member or associate of your synagogue to have our wedding, or marriage blessing, conducted by your rabbi?
Yes. We require both partners to be members or associates of our community. If you wish to join our community, to begin this process, please, contact our Rabbi. Joining a community brings with it many benefits beyond your special day, including festival and Shabbat services, learning for adults and children, fun events, social action, being part of the wider Liberal Jewish community and, above all, making lifelong friends.

Brit Milah

“Brit” or “Bris”?
“Brit” is “covenant” in Hebrew, pronounced according to the rules of Modern Hebrew. “Bris” is the traditional Ashkenazi pronunciation; the meaning is the same. 

Do we have to circumcise our son?
Circumcision is an ancient sign of identity for Jewish males, which has been practiced throughout the generations.

Liberal Judaism has always recognized the importance of circumcision as a symbol of the covenant and a mark of Jewish identity. However, it also accepts that there are grounds for questioning the practice, and that some parents choose not to circumcise their sons for reasons of conscience.

Pros and Cons of Neo-Natal Circumcision
Circumcision is a straightforward operation undertaken using a well proven and established method. Complication rates are low when compared to other surgical procedures and when they do occur can be sorted out promptly with minimal distress to the child or his parents.

In accordance with general medical guidelines doctors undertaking male circumcisions are required to gain written consent from the baby’s parents for the procedure. The form confirms that the parents have been informed of the pros and cons of the procedure and appropriate anesthetic and analgesic methods. Also, that the parents have been made aware of the potential complications of bleeding, infection and a cosmetically unacceptable outcome, including an estimate of their likelihood and consequences.

Circumcision is a small operation and what your son needs most after the operation from you are lots of cuddles and tender loving care. Keep him well fed, well winded and all should be well.

Is ritual circumcision legal in Luxembourg?
Ritual circumcision is legal in Luxembourg, provided that it is performed according to the rules of medical science. 

Who performs the circumcision ceremony?
The ceremony is performed by a Mohel (ritual circumciser), who has been specially trained in the traditional Jewish way of performing the procedure. The choice of the Mohel is left to the free choice of the parents. On request our Rabbi can refer a Mohel. We recommend only circumcisers, who are recognised medical doctors. The Mohel will explain the medical issues, including the risks, before the ceremony. 

Our Rabbi provides pastoral support and accompanies the ceremony with prayers. After the circumcision the child will get a Jewish name. 

Sons of Jewish fathers can be circumcised for the sake of conversion under the guidance of the Rabbi and after receiving a written approval from both parents. 

Where does the ceremony take place?
The ceremony can take place at the synagogue or at the parents’ home. The choice of the place is that of the baby’s parents.

Is Minyan necessary? 
A Minyan (quorum) of ten Jewish adults irrespective of gender is not an absolute requirement for a Brit Milah. It is a long-standing custom to gather a Minyan for a Brit Milah and we observe this custom, if possible.

Is it an all-male affair?
Traditionally, only men attend the ceremony. Liberal communities would encourage all to be present regardless of gender, but this would be an individual’s choice.

Similarly, mums and dads need to choose, if they stay in the room or leave. Most who stay feel that the reality was less distressing than their imagination and were glad that they had stayed.

How can I find out more about the procedure for circumcision? 
Contact our Rabbi.

Miscellaneous

Do you have a dress code? Do I have to wear a kippa (head covering)?
For Shabbat and holiday services smart casual is a safe choice. In the synagogue men are required to wear a head covering (usually kippa). Women may choose to wear a head covering (including kippa). Tallit can be worn by all adult Jews irrespective of gender at appropriate times.

What if I do not know Hebrew?
Do not worry, our prayer books include translations into English and French.

What are your working languages?
Our services are in English, French, and Hebrew. However, you can contact us in any of the following languages: Luxembourgish, English, French, Hebrew, Russian, Spanish, or German.

Where do I find kosher products in Luxembourg?
There are kosher products sections in:

  • Auchan Kirchberg, 5 Rue Alphonse Weicker, 2721 Luxembourg (including kosher deep-frozen meat)
  • Delhaize, 1 Route d’Arlon, 8009 Strassen
  • Monoprix, 3-11, rue du Fort Bourbon, L-1249 Luxembourg
  • Kosher Shop at the Synagogue of Luxembourg City, https://synagogue.lu/epicerie/
  • Order Kosher meat online: https://casher.fr

Do you have adult education?
Yes. Check here.

Do you offer Hebrew language courses?
We do not offer in-house Modern Hebrew classes, but we can refer to teachers who can help you further.

Do you have activities for kids?
Yes. Check out our Talmud Torah.