Membership: Frequently Asked Questions

Welcome! Here’s where new (and current) members can find great answers to lots of frequently asked questions, along with links to learn more. Think we’re missing something? Please let Julie Koppman know.

Touro is big. How can I quickly learn people’s names?

We’re excited to start a new practice of name tags for all – current members and new members. Please look for name tags and markers at Shabbat dinners and other events, and let us know who you are. We want to know everyone’s name, and it’s so much easier to talk with others when you’re on a first name basis. (Please know that we’re currently working on a system of permanent name tags, as well.)

How can I connect with other members?

There are five different groups of Touro Ambassadors ready and willing to help you engage with the community!

Initial Contacters reach out to you to have conversations, ask questions, and connect you to other people and programs. The more you’re willing to share, the easier it will be to help you find your place at Touro! Contact Kendall Scales Glade for more info.

Shabbat Greeters & Community Hosts welcome you to services and get to know you at Shabbat dinners, making introductions, schmoozing, and making socializing a bit easier. Contact Naomi Yavneh Klos for more info.

Social Hosts organize casual events and get-togethers such as a backyard Havdalah, picnics, walks in the park, coffee meet-ups and more. The more we spend time together, the stronger our social connections are! Contact Stacey Weinreb for more info.

Affinity Group Supporters connect with you if you identify as interfaith, multiracial, LGBTQ, Jew by choice, or any other affinity group. If you’d like to connect with others who identify as you do, let us know! Contact Cathy Lazarus for more info.

Age & Stage Supporters connect with you if you’re single, newly married, have a new baby, a family with young children, in the B’nei Mitzvah process, empty nesters, or any other stage of life. If you’d like to connect with others in your age and/or stage, let us know! Contact Jeff Luria for more info.

What’s the best way to keep up with current events and activities?

Be sure to look at the Events Calendar which shows everything currently scheduled, and make sure you’re receiving Touro’s weekly email newsletters that are chock-full of upcoming events and programs, containing links and contact information to register, get in touch, or learn more. *Touro’s office staff will automatically sign you up to receive email newsletters when you become a member; however, please make sure you’re receiving them at the email address you prefer.

How can I connect with groups based on common interests?

Many groups meet regularly based on common interests, including:

  • Choir – Love Jewish music? Connect with others through song. 
  • Adult Education – Participate in a variety of ongoing courses taught by clergy and congregational scholars.
  • Torah Study – Take part in weekly Torah Portion discussions led by congregants, regardless of experience with Hebrew or the Torah. 
  • Prime Timers – Be a part of our community of honored elders who inspire, empower, and support as only those wisest among us can. 

Group meetings and events are regularly promoted in our weekly email newsletters and on the Events Calendar.

What are some of the social impact activities Touro supports?

The Touro community supports many social impact and service opportunities, and our ongoing efforts have included a commitment to anti-racism, assisting immigrants and refugees, LGBTQ advocacy, mental health awareness, working in our vertical garden to provide fresh produce to our neighborhood food pantry, environmental action, and promoting voting rights.

What kinds of physical donations are collected on-site at Touro?

We support Second Harvest Food Bank directly by maintaining ongoing collection bins for non-perishable foods, and encourage you to bring in your non-perishable food items each Shabbat and whenever you’re in the building. We also support Glass Half Full by collecting recyclable glass on Friday evenings during Shabbat services.

How can I sign up for a tour of the building?

Adrien Genet is our historian and lead docent, and she and a few others are happy to give you a tour of the building!

What should I know about Shabbat evening services?

Shabbat evening services are on Fridays at 6 pm. They sometimes take place in the Forgotston Chapel and sometimes in the Main Sanctuary (the older, larger space with the beautiful domed ceiling). 

There’s no “assigned” seating, and no expectations that you sit in any particular seat. Don’t be shy to come up front. There are often available seats in the first couple of rows. And don’t worry if you arrive a little late. Our Shabbat Greeters stay at their welcome post to greet you until at least 6:30 pm.

After services, please say hello to Rabbi Bauman, Rabbi Silverman, Cantor Margolius, and our current President, Laura Levy. They would LOVE to have the opportunity to greet you personally (as would the person you’re sitting next to!)

Friday night Shabbat services are also live-streamed and archived online at

What should I know about Shabbat dinners?

Shabbat dinners immediately follow services on Friday evenings and are open to all. No reservations or tickets are needed unless there’s a special event, which will be detailed in our email newsletters. They’re very popular, and we usually have about 150 people join us. It’s our most social event each week and the best way to meet and connect with other members and guests. 

We’re instituting a new ambassador role called a Community Host. Members serving as Community Hosts will be at Shabbat dinners to meet & greet and help you make connections. They will be recognized from the bimah during services, so you’ll know who they are.

What if I have a question when I’m at services?

Our Shabbat Greeters offer warm smiles, hellos, and prayer books when you arrive. Please ask a Shabbat Greeter for any help you might need, whether it’s where to take your child for babysitting, where the nearest restroom is, or if you need a kippah, a headset, or a book for your child.

Do children come to Shabbat evening services?

Yes! We love to welcome children to Shabbat evening services. Children of all ages attend with their families, and the congregation delights in their presence. Most families begin services with their children sitting beside them. About 15 minutes into the service, our clergy invite all the children to the bimah for a special Shabbat blessing (and a chocolate treat)!  After that, children are welcome to stay in the prayer space, but our education staff also offer a wonderful array of experiences for different ages. This education and childcare program is called Kehilah KIDoshah, and it takes place every single Friday night unless otherwise noted.

Ages 1-3 Years: Our youngest children play with Jewish-themed toys, color, and sing Shabbat songs with our Hebrew and Music Educator, Mr. Aaron.

Ages 4-2nd Grade: Our elementary aged-children learn all about the weekly Torah portion, upcoming holidays and Shabbat traditions, as well as singing Shabbat songs with Mr. Aaron.

**Children must be accompanied to the Kehilah KIDoshah space by an adult who can safely drop them off. Please reach out to Maya Shaar, Touro’s Director of Youth Education & Engagement, with any questions.

**We encourage our 3rd-6th grade Uptown Hebrew students to remain in the Shabbat service to engage with and connect to the prayers they are learning.

How do Saturday morning Shabbat services work?

Many Saturday morning Shabbat services take place in the Main Sanctuary (the older, larger space with the beautiful domed ceiling) due to Bar or Bat Mitzvah services and the need to accommodate more congregants and guests. On other Saturday mornings, a Shabbat Prayer & Torah Service takes place in the Forgotston Chapel at 10:30am. Please check your Touro email to see where services will be each week.

How do the High Holidays work at Touro? 

There are no tickets needed for High Holiday services, and all are welcome. The High Holidays offerings at  Touro include a wide range of opportunities for worship and learning throughout the season, and we provide a guide with a detailed High Holiday schedule before the season each year. The main services are also available via livestream.

What is Jazz Fest Shabbat?

In 1991, Touro began inviting guest musicians and a Jazz band to create the first Jazz Fest Shabbat, our own special tribute to one of New Orleans’ greatest traditions, The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Since then, this unique and nationally recognized worship service fills our historic main sanctuary each year with members and guests. It features a special guest musician/band, our Cantor, choir,  and a complete Shabbat service. Jazz Fest Shabbat is free and open to the public because of the generosity of our Jazz Fest Shabbat Patrons and Community Partners, including a grant from the New Orleans Recreation and Culture Fund.

What are summer union services?

We join together with two other New Orleans-area Reform synagogues, Temple Sinai and Congregation Gates of Prayer, to take turns hosting Shabbat services during the months of June, July, and August.  For these “summer union services”, each congregation hosts for one month at a time. As summer nears, check your weekly email newsletters for more details and times.

Who should I contact if I’m anticipating or planning a lifecycle event?

If you are anticipating or planning a lifecycle event such as a baby naming, a wedding, or a Bat or Bar Mitzvah, please contact our clergy assistant Beka Cole. Beka will be delighted to connect you with clergy and staff who can help to bring your simcha to fruition.

Who should I contact if I have a family member who’s ill or my family has suffered a loss?

If you have a family member who’s ill or your family has suffered a loss, please contact our clergy assistant Beka Cole. If it’s after hours, please call the main number at 504-895-4843; you’ll be directed to call an emergency after-hours number.

Who should I contact if I’d like to make an appointment with a member of the clergy?

To make an appointment with Rabbi Bauman, Cantor Margolius, or Rabbi Silverman, please reach out to our clergy assistant Beka Cole.

How does the Community Mikvah work?

The Louisiana Community Mikvah is a place where women, men and people of all genders and ages can celebrate life milestones and explore their spirituality. Make an appointment, or learn more by talking to our clergy.

How does voluntary annual support work?

One of our most cherished values is inclusivity. And when it comes to financial support, we actualize this value through our Voluntary Annual Support Program (VASP). This means each household contributes to Touro at a level that’s comfortable and meaningful to them. Because of this approach, all members – including those who are newer or younger  – are welcomed without anyone feeling compelled to donate beyond their means.Please know that we’re only able to do this because of the generosity of our Patrons, whose annual support is at or above $3600. Please also know that the actual annual operating cost per household for 2023-2024 is $2900, or what we call the sustaining level.  We’re grateful to our Sustainers who contribute annual support at this level. You can learn more and make your voluntary annual support pledge here.

How can I provide additional financial support to Touro?

There are so many ways to support Touro’s great work, including:

There are also times throughout the year when you’ll be invited to attend, make a donation, or be a patron in support of a special annual event or fundraiser – such as Jazz Fest Shabbat, or the L’Chayim Dinner that honors members for their lifelong commitment to Touro.

Please know that your generous support of these giving opportunities is not required but is greatly appreciated. Our fundraisers have a tremendous effect on Touro’s strength, longevity, and growth.

What is the Lifting the Sky capital campaign?

The revitalization of our carefully and lovingly maintained home is currently underway and funded by our Lifting the Sky capital campaign. Our frequently repaired roofs have served far beyond their expected lifespans, and our HVAC systems including humidity control are in critical need of modernization and replacement. We’re adding an elevator in our education building, all-gender family bathrooms on our main level, and a reconfiguration of our offices, lobby spaces, meeting rooms, and classrooms to provide improved accessibility and a warm welcome to all who enter our congregational home. 

Join us as we preserve and protect this cherished space, support our congregation, strengthen our community, and secure the future of Touro Synagogue. Together, we will lift the sky! To learn more, please contact the Touro Synagogue office at 504-895-4843, or email us at [email protected].

When do children typically begin Religious school and Hebrew school?

Our Sunday morning Religious school program (called Yamim Yafim) is a fun and active camp-style program for Pre-K through 5th graders designed to foster a deep connection with Judaism through hands-on learning and relationship building. 

All Yamim Yafim students in 3rd-6th grades are automatically enrolled in our midweek Hebrew language program, called Uptown Hebrew. With our stellar team of Hebrew teachers guiding them, students spend time each week in small groups with their peers, building up their reading and comprehension skills more and more each week.

Read more about both programs and how they change and progress from 6th-10th grades.

Is there a B’nei Mitzvah handbook that guides parents through the process?

Yes! Please find this incredibly helpful and detailed B’nei Mitzvah handbook that includes a timeline and checklist, as well as information about preparation, family participation, logistical planning, fees, donations, invitations, vendors, flowers, food, blessings, and much more.

Are there scholarships available for Religious school or Hebrew school?

Yes, limited funds that provide support for both are available. Our Executive Director Kurt Jostes is available to discuss any special arrangements with you.

What should I know about synagogue security?

If you’re coming to the synagogue for a meeting or event other than worship services, please come to the gate on St. Charles Avenue, and ring the buzzer on the intercom pad. You’ll be greeted, asked for your name, and then buzzed in through the gate.

If you’re joining us for Shabbat services, please come to the gate on St. Charles Ave. You’ll be greeted by a security officer and Kurt Jostes, our executive director. (We’re often fortunate to have the same officers on duty, and they appreciate your “hellos” and acknowledgement.) You’ll enter through the gate and then turn left for services in the Forgotston Chapel, or turn right for services in the Main Sanctuary.

How can I get involved in security training?

We offer advanced security training to bolster congregational safety and security, and members who have participated in this training contribute informally and formally to a volunteer security team. Please contact Megan Yellin to learn more.