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Joy Serves G*d in Joy as a passionate performing percussionist, poet, publisher, photographer, publicist, sound healer, spiritual guide, artist, gardener and Gemini. "Ivdu Et Hashem B'Simcha" -Psalm 100:2 ....... Joy Krauthammer, active in the Jewish Renewal, Feminist, and neo-Chasidic worlds for over three decades, kabbalistically leads Jewish women's life-cycle rituals. ... Workshops, and Bands are available for all Shuls, Sisterhoods, Rosh Chodeshes, Retreats, Concerts, Conferences & Festivals. ... My kavanah/intention is that my creative expressive gifts are inspirational, uplifting and joyous. In gratitude, I love doing mitzvot/good deeds, and connecting people in joy. In the zechut/merit of Reb Shlomo Carlebach, zt'l, I mamash love to help make our universe a smaller world, one REVEALING more spiritual consciousness, connection, compassion, and chesed/lovingkindness; to make visible the Face of the Divine... VIEW MY COMPLETE PROFILE and enjoy all offerings.... For BOOKINGS write: joyofwisdom1 at gmail.com, leave a COMMENT below, or call me. ... "Don't Postpone Joy" bear photo montage by Joy. Click to enlarge. BlesSings, Joy

Dressing Up for Shul

Dressing Up for Shul

Dear Cantor Herschel Fox, 

I'm glad to read your thoughts on Parshat Tetzaveh and about "dressing up in shul", in the Valley Beth Shalom Weekly Update 2/6/2014. *

What do I think? you ask, about dressing up for shul.

Being a temple musician at various shuls, and 'serving both G*d with joy', and the Jewish people, I am one of first leaders to arrive and last to leave. About 100 people, mostly women, dance past me, as I stand by the bima and see most everyone who is present in the congregation. 

No one is dressed "too informally", with rare exception. A few women wear pants. It has made me a little sad to view the women who could not 'dress up' more for Shabbat in synagogue.  (Am I guilty of 'judging', which has no purpose?)   I notice when these women recently have switched to skirts/dresses. With awareness I say something affirmative to them, acknowledging the change and how lovely they look. The people who wear less dressed up clothes, I believe, are just as spiritually focused as I am, with kavanah to pray in community, and they do!  What they wear does not make a difference to their prayer.  We are ALL B'Tzelem Elokim, created in G*d's image, and equal in G*d's Presence.

When my daughter, Aviva, lived on this west coast growing up, and was going to wear jeans to shul, I would have preferred she did not wear jeans, and told her so, but it was more important to me that she was in shul, and I told her that.  As a young mother, Aviva continues to go to shul, and with her family, and I am grateful. Baruch Hashem. 

I'm not tuned into 'fashion' thus that is a non-issue for me. My clothes may be decades old. Personally, I always wear fabrics that I find right for me; in shul, simple purple silk tops are my favorite. When I am not serving as a temple musician, as a congregant on a cool day I may wear my comfortable purple corduroy skirt. Last week in Parshat Terumah and reading about the Mishkon, I also wore crimson and purple velvet, a little more dressy. (Sniut / modest for me, no short 'revealing' cocktail dresses.) Sometimes I tell people why I'm dressed as I am, because it makes me feel good to share spiritual intention and it's fun. When possible, I like to dress up as the Torah parsha. (You should see me as a menorah, and for Parshat Tetzaveh, I may wear miniature decorative metal pomegranates and bells.)  I believe my inner values are aligned with my outer appearance.

As a synagogue leader-- percussionist in support of clergy and congregation, I acknowledge my image and appearance with my dress and behavior. I do like it when others over the decades have said to me, that I inspire them with my garments and have given them the 'freedom' to wear certain textiles. (They can release and share their own personality.) That feels good. I dress as my soul feels.  My biggest 'dress', I think, is the light-filled smile I wear in shul, because I am happy to be in shul on Shabbat and Chagim with my spiritual communities.  I reflect the light of G*d all around me. 

Hmm, jewelry-- I always wear a small Mogen Dovid necklace, and happy purple or crimson earrings, especially with a hamsa. Shoes?  Mostly comfortable clean purple flats, not heels, because that is best for me; Good for climbing steps to the bimaark and Torah for group aliyot.  I leave my purple suede Birkenstock sandals at home. I hope that others wear shoes that they can dance in.  (On a cold day, I may wear purple socks!)

Regarding men, I think it is special when someone occasionally wears a tie, and jacket, and I don't think that is necessary; Just don't wear an 'undershirt' alone or t-shirt; wear a button shirt.  In 'religious' (Torah observant) shuls, I see more formal wear.  I'd be surprised on occasion when I'd see a man, an immigrant, who was wearing slippers to shul. I spoke to him to meet and greet him.

At the bima receiving a group aliyah, I always offer to share my purple tallit, because I think wearing a prayer shawl at the Torah is important and respectful. A tallit gives me personal intimate prayer space. (I have created or embellished my own talleisim.) In respect for where I stand and pray in public, I also wear a kipa. When I pray at Chabad, I don't usually wear my tallit, so as not to offend others, or alienate from me, both men and women. At Chabad, my kipa may transform to a larger hat.  Congregants may judge me at Chabad, and that may upset me, as it has. (I've been a Chabadnic ever since I met The Rebbe in 1970.)  As a Renewal Jew, I daven with all denominations.

I wonder if when a person is dressing very casual, if they are not feeling well. I always greet the people in shuls where I play as percussionist, and I am aware of their expression and sometimes tears, and acknowledge that also. I think that when I was in mourning for my husband, z'l, at times I could not elevate beyond wearing 'brown'. Congregants noticed.  Thanks for asking how I feel about dress in synagogue.  I love davenen at shul and wearing my purple garments.

Shabbat Shalom
BlesSings for seeing, vitality, health, wholeness, harmony & peace, revealed miracles, inspiration & creativity, discovery & wonder, blooming gardens, majestic sunrises, singing birds, love, laughter, joy and LIGHT,
JOY Krauthammer
"Serve G*d With Joy"


"An aspect of Tetzaveh is the role of the Kohen Gadol, and indeed the elaborate dress code he had to follow. The Torah describes his dress in public as “l’chavod u l tifaret,” regal, majestic. He wore a beautiful short coat, a breast plate with 12 jewels. He even wore a crown. Today, when there is no Beit Hamikdosh, we dress the Torah in the synagogue in a glorious and beautiful way.
"It is interesting that some people feel we dress too informally in the synagogue, while mostly an older generation feels that dressing more formally brings respect to the synagogue experience and service."  - Cantor Fox
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