Shamas Instructions

Thank you for offering your time!  It is truly a blessing for the community but also for yourself, and we encourage you, within the bounds of your duty, to enjoy your role as host and welcomer.  The Jewish tradition of hospitality goes back to Abraham, who hastened to welcome the strangers that appeared at his tent and Rebecca, who gave water to human and animal guests.

Introduce yourself to the custodian when you arrive.  In many cases they will have already brought up most things that you need for doing your job.  These include siddurum, the large chamashim (torahs), tallitot and kippot and Kolot-related literature to put out on the table at the entrance. There are copies of some parshas in the file cabinet on the right side of the first aisle.  Bring these up and hand them out with the siddurum.  Note that we do not have copies of all parshas.  In that case, please place chumashim in each pocket in the pews around the room for the Torah service.

If these items are not already upstairs, you will find them in the storage room in the basement.  The first aisle as you enter the room is where we keep baskets with tallitot and kippot and two plastic bins with literature – one Kolot-related info and the other non-Kolot related. 

NOTE FROM THE CHILDREN'S LEARNING PROGRAM (CLP): In the set up bin for the shamas, there will be a clipboard with a sign-in sheet for students to fill out every week. The clipboard with the sheets on it should be set on the table for students to sign in.  The CLP will make sure the sheet at the top of the clipboard has the correct date. 

If you find signs to indicate NO CELL PHONES AND NO PHOTOS, please put them up by the entrance.

There is also a bin with Shamas badges; be sure to wear one! 

Remember: Do NOT leave materials in the office in the back of the social hall.

Serving as a Kolot shamas means that you are hosting – so the most important aspect of your role is to offer a warm welcome to each person who walks through our doors whether or not you personally know them.  NEVER make assumptions about who is or is not a member or visitor.  

PLEASE ARRIVE BY 9:30 AM.  This is very important.

Shamases are responsible for the set up at the back of the sanctuary.  For a regular Shabbat, make sure you have at least 60 siddurum.   For large events, you’ll need all the books we have!

Set up takes more than a few minutes, and we like to be all set by 10AM.

On the table by the front door, put:

Two clip boards – one for B’nai Mitzvah students to sign in, and one for newcomers.  Please see that there are pens attached to the clipboards, and that the newcomers who choose to sign in do so legibly so that the Membership Committee can follow up later. 

The siddurum – hand one directly to each person who enters.

Kippot and tallitot – make them available. 

When there are two shamases, set up some books and other material on the table near the top of the stairs from the basement, as a lot of people enter the sanctuary that way, especially at 10:30am after breakfast, and especially for big events.

Clear off the church’s information from the long table and place it neatly under the table. In its place, put out literature from our non-Kolot info bin.

Coordinate with the breakfast bringer to ensure that kiddish cups are prepared, using grape juice that the breakfast bringer has supplied, and see that the cups are placed on trays ready for the end of services.


When services include B'nai Mitzvah, your responsibilities remain basically the same, except that you will coordinate with the parent volunteers who are there to help ensure that everything runs smoothly.  Introduce yourself to them when you arrive.  The B’nai Mitzvah parent volunteers are responsible for the breakfast and lunch set up and clean up, but can help you if necessary to put out and put away materials.  Reach out to them if you need their help.  

Make sure that guests of the B'nai Mitzvah family are made welcome and directed to breakfast and to seats.  Please direct the kids who are there for the B'nai Mitzvah to the third and fourth rows.  When there is a big crowd, there are seats up front by the piano and on the other side of the aisle, so please direct people to those seats as well.


By 10:00am, the first people will have started to arrive and may not know if they’re in the right place, or that breakfast is about to begin downstairs!  Give a special greeting to anyone you may not know and help them find their way.  Direct them down to breakfast, or to the restrooms, and help them find seats. PLEASE LET PEOPLE SIT WHERE THEY’RE COMFORTABLE, and don’t displace anyone who has already chosen a seat. The only exception is that kids who come to their friend’s B'nai Mitzvah should be directed to sit together in the 3rd and 4th rows.

Make sure with your co-shamas that one of you stays near the door from then on.  You can take turns downstairs during breakfast.

DURING SERVICES – starting 10:30am

Stand or sit at the entrance to the sanctuary, or one of you at the top of the stairs.  There are two black chairs (from foyer) which you can place near the round table by the front door.  At least one shamas should be visibly standing or seated there throughout the service so you can see and respond to anyone entering or exiting, or anyone who has a question (most common question: “Where’s the restroom?”).  One shamas should stand by the top of the stairs at 10:30am to greet people coming up from breakfast.

In the case of a newcomer, someone who is attending services for the first time, ask that person if they would like to sign the sheet to receive further information about Kolot.

When services begin, you can walk down the aisles and offer a tallis to anyone who wants one.


Hand out kiddish cups in the social hall at the direction of the Rabbi.

Collect all books and other materials and return them to the appropriate cartons.  Carry the small cartons with literature, tallitot, and kippot down to the storeroom and place them on their shelves.  

Replace the church’s literature on the long table at the front.

Ask the custodian to put away the heavy cartons with sidduurum and chamashim.

Should any problems arise the morning of services, please call Kathy August, 646-207-4064.

© 2017 Kolot Chayeinu | Voices of Our Lives