Rav Hayyim Solomon

Our mission at TCOMD is to provide opportunities to experience authentic Judaism, even here in Lake County, to whatever extent you want and need. Since our founding in 2007, we’ve built up weekly minyanim, a school for children, programs for advanced learning for adults, a regular social calendar, chaplaincy programs, a Chevra Qadisha, and outreach to the general community. We have acquired a building in downtown Mount Dora and renovated it for use as a synagogue; we celebrated our first High Holidays there in 2011.

Our members see TCOMD as important because it ensures the continued strength of our area by bringing diversity and vibrancy to the community, providing a place for the sharing of joys and troubles, and fostering our special sense of identity in the larger Jewish family. TCOMD provides a safe-space for Jews of all kinds, from all backgrounds; we are supportive, encouraging, but never judgmental. Lake County may seem like a Wilderness from a Jewish perspective, but once you’ve walked into the tents of your brothers and sisters here in the Tri-Cities, you’ll know that you’ve found in the Traditional Congregation – your Home for Genuine Judaism.

B’rukhim habaim, Welcome all who come!

Rav Hayyim G.Z. Solomon

Rabbi, TCOMD

Synagogue Decorum

TCOMD is a Central Florida synagogue. As such, customary dress and behavior is somewhat more relaxed than one would find in the venerable synagogues in New York or Jerusalem.

That being said, we do have a few pointers on decorum.

  1. With regard to cell phones and beepers: We ask that physicians and first-responders, please, put your necessary emergency electronic devices on silent mode.
  2. Please refrain from entering and exiting the Sanctuary during the Repetition of the Amidah, when the Torah is being read from the scroll, and during the Sermon.
  3. Please do not engage in unnecessary conversation during the prayer service. We have come as a community to stand before G-d, to pour out our souls, with requests and thanksgiving. Conversing during prayer is disrespectful to those present, and is a Hillul Hashem.
  4. We strongly encourage that the dress code ‘business casual’ be followed, allowing for short sleeve polo or button-down shirts during the warm season. Married women are encouraged to wear a head-covering. Men are required to cover their heads at all times, and adult male Jews are required to wear a tallit during the morning service. Shorts are not to be worn under any circumstances. We ask that non-Jewish men who are attending not wear a tallit, as that will be confusing to some, and indicates an acceptance of the yoke of the 613 Mitsvoth of Torah.
  5. When the Heihal (Ark) is open, or when the Torah is in procession, all physically able are to remain standing.  With a few exceptions discussed below, one must always remain facing the Heihal.
  6. During all formal prayer services it is necessary that men and women sit in their respective sections.  As a child approaches the age of Bat or Bar Mitsvah, this becomes incumbent on them as well.

Evening Services for Shabbath generally start with Kabbalath Shabbath – the service that welcomes in the Shabbath – with traditional psalms and songs.  When the season (sunset) permits, this is done while it is still daylight. The singing during Kabbalath Shabbath is often vigorous may be accompanied by instruments if it is still day. If so, all instruments would be put away before the Qaddish de’Rabbanan that precedes Mizmor Shir lYom HaShabbath, or certainly before 18 minutes before sunset at the latest.

Arbit, the evening service is somewhat more dignified. There is no talking between Borkhu (the Call to Prayer) and the end of the Amidah.

The Shabbath Morning Service begins with Birkoth haShahar and Pesukei d’Zimrah – Morning Blessings and Verses of Praise. The Shaharith (Morning Service) follows with Kriat Shema, the Amidah and its repetition, the reading of Torah and Haftarah, Sermon and Mussaf.

After Mussaf, Synagogue announcements are made, and the Congregation withdraws to the Community Building for a Kiddush lunch.

If one is called upon to read a psalm or Mishnah, please stand in your place for the recitation. If one is called to Torah (given an Aliyah), please be ready at the foot of the Bimah (the central platform) prior to one’s being called. After one’s Aliyah, in deference to changes since Covid, one returns to one’s seat. When returning to one’s seat, one should walk slowly, so as not to give the impression of being in a hurry.

If one is called upon to open the Heihal (Ark), one approaches the Heihal in a measured walks, as if in procession. After closing the doors to the Heihal, one backs up three steps before turning around to walk slowly back to one’s place.

Aside from this, returning to one’s place, or when teaching or giving announcements from the Bimah, one never turn’s one’s back on the Heihal (Ark). This includes the final verse of Lkha Dodi, during Kabbalath Shabbat.

Religious Law and Community Standards

There are 613 Mitzvoth (Commandments) according to traditional reckoning. Quite a number! Given that this is a Traditional Synagogue and fully observant, is it expected that each member or guest of the synagogue also be fully observant? No, not at all. Hopefully, someday, yes – but Halakhah – generally translated as ‘Jewish Religious Law’ actually means something more akin to ‘The Path’. We are all walking the Path. Each in our own place. There is one absolute Law that everyone in the Synagogue must follow. W’ahavtah l’Reyihah keMokhah – Love your neighbor as yourself. How does this get fulfilled and expressed? K’vod, respect! With respect to Jewish Religious Law, what one does outside the Synagogue is between that person and G-d. Respect for the community means that inside the Synagogue everyone is Shomer Shabbath and Shomer Kashruth – fully observant of the laws of Shabbath and the dietary laws. Everyone observes the laws of tsniut – modesty. We are respectful of each other as individuals and as a Community. There are families who are Shomer Mitsvoth – Observant of the Commandments.
There are individuals who are not yet so. Those who are more observant are not to criticize those who are not yet so observant, conversely, they are not to ridicule those who follow a stricter path. This is not a synagogue where someone who can only pray or congregate with those who think exactly like they do will be comfortable.  The TCOMD philosophy is to congregate, celebrate, pray and study with any Jew, without regard to their personal level of observance or religious philosophy.  Hassids are welcome.  Reform Jews are welcome.  Even Reform Hassids! TCOMD is a keruv synagogue – dedicated to outreach and to providing a home of Jews from each and every walk of life. A Jew is a Jew is a Jew.  Zeoh – That’s all there is to say. So, for the Community of TCOMD, we all pledge to be completely observant of at least one commandment,
“Love your neighbor as yourself”