This Friday Rabbi Menachem Creditor is coming to Temple Sinai. Please join us for a Chavurah Shabbat- organized dinner to follow, open to the whole community (6:00 p.m. service, 7:00 p.m. dinner). And please join us on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. for his talk on “Obligation in Liberal Judaism,” followed by appetizers and a musical havdallah.
In fact, this Friday night will be the last regularly-scheduled 6:00 p.m. service. (From now on, all Friday night services will be held at 7:30 p.m., except the 6:00 p.m. Family Shabbat on First Friday’s.) The traditional approach to Friday night would dictate services first, and a leisurely Shabbat dinner to follow. The reality of most people’s lives, however, has them eating earlier and preferring a service after dinner. I will continue to educate the community about services as a prelude to family / friends / community time over dinner, as services are not meant to fill the time-slot of a show after dinner. But for now, we are going with what more people in our community seem to want. So 7:30 services on the 2nd-5th Friday’s it is! Let’s think about eating dinner in order to fuel our prayer on those nights. That is also a lovely mitzvah.
On the topic of services, March will be the first month where we add a 3rd Shabbat Saturday morning service and Torah Study to the regular calendar of services. Thus, on both the 1st and 3rd Friday’s we will continue not to read Torah Friday night. This allows the 3rd Friday to be a slot for a more creative service of some kind. The Temple Sisterhood will be leading it on the 3rd Friday in March, the 18th. On March 19th we will hold a Shabbat morning service and Torah study. We will then officially be a two-month Saturday morning congregation in addition to B’nei Mitzvah— something we can all be proud of. I am grateful to our newly-formed Jewish Practice Committee for holding lively discussions about both topics.
At some point early in the history of Reform Judaism, Friday night overtook Saturday morning as the central service. We are slowly joining the 21st Century by adding Saturday morning services and study in a wonderful and engaging way, back into our community minchag, custom. (We already started that process as a congregation whenever Rabbi Soifer introduced Saturday morning B’nei Mitzvah services years ago). The Shabbat morning Service & Torah Study community has become a wonderful group that so enjoys praying in a circle and engaging in group learning on the week’s Torah portion. People bring their rich life lessons and wisdom to Torah as Torah informs their lives. As Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits of Germany taught; “The whole of life is of one piece; the whole of life is the testing place for human beings. Judaism is in love with life, for it knows that life is God’s great question to humankind; and the way a human being lives, what he does with his life, the meaning she is able to implant in it—is the human being’s reply. Actual life is the partner to the spirit; without the one the other is meaningless.” We show up with all of ourselves as we study Torah. Someone brings breakfast for in-between praying and learning. It is personally my favorite service at the Temple, and I hope the community of folks who tries it out expands to everyone. For the past two years, the First Shabbat service and study has been the best kept secret in the Temple. Now the secret is out.
May your Shabbat practice deepen, expand and become more meaningful as the cornerstone of your Jewish life. We very much hope to see you this Friday night at 6:00 p.m. and Saturday at 4:30! Let’s show Rabbi Creditor how vibrant and engaged our community is in Jewish learning and in celebrating Shabbat together!
P.S. For feedback or to offer your input about any of the above, please email our Jewish Practice Committee chair at firstname.lastname@example.org .