During the visit

  • Encourage the visitors to enter the site with respect and quiet reverence.
  • Be prepared, as the organizer, to ask questions during the presentation that move the discussion to topics that the class or group has reviewed previously or may have questions about. Accordingly, if the lecturer wanders off topic, you can gently and non-threateningly guide the discussion back on track by raising a question.
  • Ask permission of the host before taking photos or making audio/video recordings. Ask if there are specific times or places when it is inappropriate to take photos. Sometimes, visitors are allowed to take photos that do not require a flash. Clarify all these issues in advance. Do not assume that you are permitted to take photos.
  • Some traditions have a prohibition against eating in the house of worship (apart from sanctioned food as a part of a ritual). Chewing gum, candy, breath mints, even cough drops qualify as food. Visitors should dispose of such items before entering the house of worship.
Synagogue in St. Petersburg, Russia. Photo credit: Wikimedia

Synagogue in St. Petersburg, Russia. Photo credit: Wikimedia

  • Instruct guests to turn off all cell phones, beepers, pagers, wristwatch alarms and other electronic devices that may sound during the visit.
  • Earphones from iPods and other electronic devices should be removed.
  • Inform the facility host if there are individuals in your group who are unable to sit on the floor. In such a case, a chair is quite appropriate and will be gladly provided.
  • Encourage the members of your group to stand or sit close to the host so they can clearly see and hear.
  • Although you should encourage guests to take a washroom break before departing for the house of worship, washrooms will still be needed by your group when you arrive. Upon arrival, point out the locale of the restrooms and provide an opportunity for washroom visits before the program begins. This discipline serves to avoid disruptions later in the program. You may want to invite use of the washroom as you leave the site to avoid making a washroom visit the first requirement at the next site visit.
  • When visiting a facility that requires visitors to remove their shoes, keep in mind that shoes should be worn in the washroom. Some facilities may permit the wearing of one’s regular street shoes in the washroom; others may require the wearing of flip-flops or other sandal-type shoes which are provided and located outside the washroom doors. To avoid an awkward situation, clarify these issues with the host in advance of the visit.
  • As organizer of the visit, you need to keep in mind that the tour is for the group’s benefit, not your own. Therefore, position yourself at the back of the group or at some other vantage point where you may unobtrusively monitor behaviour and the program so as to facilitate a pleasant experience for both host and guests.
  • Make sure that the group remains together as a body as it moves throughout the site.
  • Be vigilant about your time schedule. You may need to express politely appreciation for the host’s time and contribution and then respectfully explain that the visit must end, particularly if the group is expected at another site visit where another host is awaiting you.


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