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Sep 30, 1997 - 10:22 -

I have a question:
My father is jewish. I am now 42-years-old and an devout Roman Catholic. I have 6 children and I would like for them to be exposed to their Jewish heritage. I would like to take them to High Services this week. I have not been to High Services since I was in College and wouldn't know how to get invited and participate.

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Thanks for your question.

My personal feeling is that the best way for non-Jews to learn about Judaism is to ask to study the Noahide Laws with an orthodox rabbi. This is the part of Judaism that teaches about non-Jews and their personal and communal relationship with God.

If you are dead-set on an experiential encounter with Jewish practice, then Shabbat (the Sabbath) would be a much better choice than the High Holidays. If you spend a Sabbath with a traditional family, it would be more educational and more spiritually edifying and more fun than going to synagogue for the High Holidays. 

There are also practical obstacles to attendance on the High Holy Days:  

Most synagogues are filled to capacity on those days, so space is reserved for members of the particular community that organized and paid for the event.  (Synagogues are not like Catholic churches. Each is an independent lay organization, built by a specific group of Jews so that they have a place to study and pray together.)

Some synagogues are organized for the purpose of outreach to non-committed Jews, and are supported by charitable contributions from religiously committed Jews. Even ordinary synagogues are sensitive to the possibilities of outreach. In this case, the precious space and the attention of the organizers will be focussed on other Jews.

To implement any of the above suggestions, check the Yellow Pages to find out what synagogues are near you, and contact the rabbi.

I hope this information is helpful.