The definition of a sanctuary is twofold: it is the holiest place in a house of worship, and it is also a place of refuge and protection. At the Orangetown Jewish Center, we take both definitions to heart. Our sanctuary is the center of prayer services and Torah readings. Milestones from brit milah and baby namings to b’nai mitzvah to weddings all take place in our sanctuary. Our children feel at home here, visiting the rabbis at the front of the sanctuary or inspecting the bima. No children are “shushed” because feeling at home in a holy place allows children to grow up knowing holiness.
Our sanctuary also serves as a safe place in the midst of a hectic and unpredictable world. Many congregants speak about the positive energy, the peacefulness and the quiet of the space. We are proud that congregants and guests alike feel something special about being in our sanctuary.
There is a famous teaching that says that in a sanctuary, the task of the clergy is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. In our sanctuary, it is unlikely that you will fall asleep. Time in our sanctuary is time for our souls to be recharged and energized. Voices fill our sanctuary in song. Sermons and classes in our sanctuary will ensure that you are both comforted and challenged. One week you will hear a sermon that connects that week’s Torah portion to the power of prayer, hearing God’s voice or loving our neighbors. The next week, you will learn about the connection of a current event or an issue of social justice to that week’s Torah. In our sanctuary, everything we do and study is anchored in Torah, the heart of all our endeavors at the OJC.