Shabbat is the most joyous day of the week, set aside for spiritual replenishment, contemplation and the appreciation of God’s creation. We remember that God ceased work on the seventh day and that we too must cease our mundane efforts. We gather in our homes with family and friends and in our synagogues with our community. We observeShabbat with acts that enhance the day’s holiness and refrain from acts that diminish it.
Our Shabbat service includes silent meditation, quiet chanting, communal singing and study. Read through the prayers, whether in Hebrew or in English translation, at your own pace. Linger over them. Notice the sounds, the images, the beauty of the words, the melodies. Allow yourself to meditate upon them. Don’t expect to be moved by every prayer, and don’t worry about keeping up. You are likely to respond to different prayers in different ways at different moments in your life.
On many Shabbat mornings, the congregation celebrates a bar or bat mitzvah. This milestone marks the occasion when a Jewish child is expected to begin to observe all themitzvot (Jewish ethical and religious obligations). The child participates by being called to the Torah, reading from it, chanting the haftarah, and leading other parts of the service. Members of the child’s family may also participate.
The Shabbat Morning Service
Our morning service begins at 9:15 am with early morning prayers called Birkhot HaShahar, followed by P’sukei DeZimra. By reminding us what we have to be thankful for, these selections prepare us for communal worship.
Together we recite the Sh’ma, the Biblical text which confronts us with the reality of God and our obligation to love God. Led by our Shaliach or Shlichat Tsibbor (prayer leader), we then recite the Amidah, a standing prayer which, on Shabbat, concentrates on the essential holiness of the seventh day.
We ceremonially and reverently remove the Torah (a scroll containing the Five Books of Moses) from the ark, march in a processional so the entire congregation can see it up close and reach out to kiss it, and then chant portions from it. After the Torah reading, ahaftarah (a related selection from the Prophets) is recited in its own unique musical mode, and then we return the Torah to the ark. At this point, our Rabbi will reflect on the meaning of the Torah portion of the day, either delivering a sermon or leading a discussion with the congregation.
We conclude our service with the Musaf Amidah (an additional standing prayer) and closing hymns.
Please join us for kiddush at the conclusion of the services. And please introduce yourself to the Rabbi, Cantor, President, ushers, and members of the congregation.