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People often ask -- How different are Sephardic and Ashkenazi forms of worship?

Sephardi and Ashkenzai Jews share precisely the same beliefs, the same devotion to the tenets of Judaism. Differences arise in customs and liturgy. Although Sephardim and Ashkenazim use the same basic prayers, Sephardim use decidedly oriental cantillation (ta'amim) when they pray and when they read the Torah. 

Melodies differ from synagogue to synagogue, as they often reflect the countries and cultures of their congregants’ origins. At Magen David, it is customary for the Torah reader to use ta'amim that reflect the background of the person honored with an Aliyah. This applies to Ashkenzai honorees as well. 

We hope you’ll join us at an upcoming service, either during the week or on Shabbat. Prayer times for the week are listed below.

Today's Calendar

: 7:00am

This week's Torah portion is Parshat Yitro

Shabbat, Jan 22

Candle Lighting

Friday, Jan 21, 4:57pm


Motzei Shabbat, Jan 22, 6:01pm

Shabbat Mevarchim

Shabbat, Jan 29
View Calendar


Daily Minian

Prayer is the central component of the Jewish experience. Our tradition teaches us the value of devoting time each day to prayer and contemplation. At Magen David, our daily Minyan is a spiritual interlude that brings members of our community together and imbues them with a positive attitude at the start of their day.

Sunday through Friday, members of the morning minyan meet to pray together, joining spiritually with Jews worldwide. Members and guests experience the intimacy of prayers recited in the presence of valued friends and companions.

The minyan is important to each individual, but it is also a way to fulfill the important mitzvah of supporting others who are reciting the Mourner’s Kaddish. Members may have suffered a loss in the recent past, or they may wish to say the Kaddish during each year to mark the yahrzeit of a loved one. The morning minyan assures that participants are able to recite the Kaddish in a supportive environment. 

In addition, the Shacharit service includes preliminary prayers, the Shema, and the Amidah.  Mondays and Thursdays, the Aron Ha-Kodesh is opened and Torah passages are read.


Shabbat is a joyous time at Magen David, from the introductory prayers to the last strains of Adon Olam. An atmosphere of kavanah (spiritual intention prevails, because prayer and the lessons of Torah are deeply felt.

A day for reflection and connection, Shabbat is a chance to gain new insights into Torah, traditions, and issues of interest to contemporary Jews. We connect with friends and with our Judaism.

Music at Magen David is central to the worship experience. The singing is participatory, and one of the most distinctive and pleasurable elements of our service.

Knowledgeable congregation members are often called upon to read from the Torah and Haftarah, or assist in leading prayer services. The prayer book we use is Siddur Zehut Yoseph, published by the Sephardic Traditions Foundation. It engages those schooled in Hebrew as well as those who prefer English translation, or transliteration when praying. Siddurim in French, Spanish, and Farsi are also available.

Members and friends who attend services regularly are a cohesive group. We enjoy and care about each other. Visitors are wanted, needed, and welcomed warmly. People of all ages, traditions, family configurations, and Jewish awareness quickly become comfortable in our midst. We especially value the presence of children; new families will find that in no time, their children will be among new friends, joining with them in the children’s part of the weekly Torah service.

We welcome Shabbat on Friday night with prayers and song. Saturday morning services are followed in the late afternoon by scheduled study programs for adults and teens, evening services, Seudah Shelisheet, and Havdalah.

Link to our calendar


Holidays at Magen David are always a special time, as our synagogue fills with members, guests and the spirit of celebration or commemoration. Some of our customs and traditions are described below for the major Jewish holidays that take place during the year.

Rosh Hashana 

The two-day festival of Rosh Hashana is observed on the first and second days of Tishrei. The Jewish New Year marks the beginning of the Days of Awe, a period of introspection. The shofar is sounded on both days (unless the first day falls of Shabbat, in which case we only sound the shofar on the second day). At MDSC we gather in great anticipation to hear the sound of the shofar. At home we dip apples into honey, enjoy a celebratory meal, and wish one another a sweet new year.

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Yom Kippur 

On this holiest of all days in the Jewish calendar, we ask forgiveness for the mistakes of the past year. We pledge to improve our behaviors and to increase our devotion to the lessons of Torah and to the welfare of our fellow human beings. Prior to the Holiday, Selichot prayers are said in the early morning hours. Ashkenazi Jews’ Selichot takes place from the Sunday before Rosh Hashana until Yom Kippur. Sephardic Selichot at MDSC begins earlier, on the second day of Elul, and lasts for the nearly three weeks leading to Yom Kippur.


You can find a Lulav & Etrog order form here.

The marriage of “brains and brawn” results in the construction of our beautiful Sukkah on the eve of Sukkot (Tishrei 15-21). Following Shabbat services during the holiday period, the congregation gathers inside the structure for the kiddush and hamotzi blessings. MDSC member customarily invite members and friends to share a meal I the sukkah often decorated with children’s drawings, Israeli flags, and symbols. Sukkot is a happy time- it’s also called Simchateinu, the Season of our Joy.

Simchat Torah 

MDSC is extremely proud of its Torah scrolls, beautifully encased in decorative cylinders according to the Sephardic custom. On Simchat Torah (“rejoicing in the Torah”) we mark the conclusion of the year’s Torah reading cycle, and the beginning of a new annual cycle. The last words of Torah are read by a member being honored as Chatan Torah; the first portion of the new cycle is read by the Chatan Bereshit. The service is followed by a festive Kiddush and joyous dancing with the Torah scrolls.


On this holiday we celebrate the Maccabees’ defeat of their Syrian overlords. Only one day’s worth of sealed and protected oil was left for the Temple Menorah, but its lights continued to burn for the eight days it took a new supply could arrive. Our Sephardic Roots Talmud Torah students usher in the holiday by lighting the MDSC Hanukkah after which they enjoy delicious sufganiyot (Israeli jelly donuts) prepared especially for the occasion. The annual Hanukkah Evening, a party for adult members and friends, features a DJ, food and dancing.

Tu B’Shevat

The 15th of Shevat (mid-February) marks the New Year of the Trees. The earliest-blooming trees in Israel are emerging from their winter sleep and beginning a new fruit-bearing cycle. At MDSC, we mark the holiday with a festive Tu B’shevat Seder during which we eat of the seven species which the Torah praises: figs, dates, pomegranates, olives, grapes, wheat and barley, and nuts (being Sephardic, we especially favor pistachios!)


The jolly festival of Purim is celebrated every year on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Adar (February or March). It commemorates the salvation of the Jewish people in ancient Persia from Haman’s plot “to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews, young and old, infants and women, in a single day.” MDSC kids- and their parents and grandparents- go all out with costumes for the reading of the Megillah (Book of Esther), and both grown-ups and children enjoy their own spirited parties.


Passover is celebrated in the early spring, from the 15th through the 22nd of the month of Nissan. It commemorates the Israelites’ emancipation from slavery in Egypt. Through the rituals of Passover, including especially the Seder, we relive the Exodus and experience the true freedom that our ancestors gained. Passover is traditionally celebrated at home, though arrangements are made for some members to gather for the second Seder in our Sriqui-Haim Social Hall.

Lag B’Omer 

The Counting of the Omer is a link between Passover, which commemorates the Exodus, and Shavuot, which commemorates the giving of the Torah. It reminds us that the redemption from slavery was not truly complete until we received the Torah.  On Lag B’Omer, MDSC members and friends look forward to the synagogue’s Hillulah where we commemorate the passing of the great sage and mystic, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, and other tzaddikim of our traditions.



Shavuot, which literally means "weeks," celebrates the completion of the seven-week Omer counting period between Passover and Shavuot. The holiday celebrates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, and thus is frequently called Chag Matan Torateinu, the Festival of the Giving of Our Torah. At MDSC, it is customary to stay up late (or even all night) studying Torah on the first night of Shavuot.

Modern Secular Holidays

Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Memorial Day), Yom HaZikaron (Israel Memorial Day), Yom HaAtzma’ut (Israel Independence Day), and Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day), are days in which we feel a profound sense of connection to the land and people of Israel, especially the many Israeli-born members of our congregation.  We observe these holidays at MDSC and at commemorations in Jewish community venues in Montgomery County and Washington, DC.

Children's Service

During a portion of the adult Shabbat services (usually between 10:30 and 11:15 am) children ages 3-12 take part in a program specially designed to enhance their Shabbat experience and help them build a foundation in Jewish religious experience.

Children are invited to lead the singing of Yimloch Adonai L’Olam that follows the Torah reading, and to join the processional passing through the sanctuary as the Torah scrolls are returnned to the hechal.

Prior to and after their time spent in the sanctuary, children interact in a supervised “kid time” atmosphere, where they enjoy their own special Shabbat program highlighted by:

  • Shabbat prayers and songs
  • Interactive parasha discussions
  • Special kids' kiddush
  • Creative games designed for fun as kids become familiar with simple Hebrew and with child-centerd religious practice  

We hope to see you and your children at Magen David for our fun and meaningful children’s Shabbat service!


Wed, January 19 2022 17 Shevat 5782