Although I think it's wonderful to include the Mi Sheberach for healing in Shabbat services, and our congregation does it every Friday night, it doesn't take the place of healing services. We have a quarterly Healing & Havdalah service, plus our Yom Kippur afternoon service is a healing service. Attendance is small, but not tiny. We have stressed that healing means different things to different people, and that everyone is seeking wholeness at some level.
A woman in our congregation suffered three strokes right after the High Holy Days last year. She's in her 40s, and the strokes left her extremely debilitated. She wasn't well enough to attend our last healing service, but many of the people there came to pray for her. They needed to be able to come together as a community to do something for her, and the healing service was the perfect venue. Healing worship is not just for those who have an identified illness; it's for the community.
Robin 450 families
Our congregation holds monthly "Service of Healing and Wholeness" on one Wed. a month. In the past we held occasional Shabbat Healing services but have discontinued doing that and do this instead. There is a small (2-5 people) attendance but it seems to be very important to those who attend. the Shabbat healing services have been discontinued for two reasons--- some felt that many people didn't need healing and found the services uncomfortable and in addition our Rabbi feels the Shabbat service is healing on it's own -- the same reason we haven't continued a healing service in conjunction with Yom Kippur.
I am a lay leader and compiled the service (borrowing heavily from many wonderful services from other congregations) ..... There is an opportunity for people to discuss why they came and what they might need from attending. This interchange did not take place when we held them as a Shabbat Service.
Bonnie 160 Families
We have had a monthly healing service on Wed PM's at 7:30 for 2 years now. It has been very helpful for those who need it. It is attended by folks with illnesses of any kind, caregivers, and those in the grief process. The numbers are about 5-10 for our congregation of 500.
It was patterned after services at the Jewish Healing Center of San Francisco, Temple Emanuel of S F and Debbie Freidman's Healing Service at the kallah in Santa Cruz, California. It starts with a guided meditation, has short readings (poetic), each followed by a song. We ask folks attending to read a part (so it is very participatory). A lay leader leads the meditation, either the Rabbi is present or a lay leader; the cantor leads the music or a lay cantor. At least one of the two professionals is present at each service.
A discussion follows the service for any who wish to remain. Its goal is support. Some non-members attend, as it is listed in the local JCN, federation publication.
Jean 500+ Families
Our Rabbi introduced the idea of a Healing Service in the spring. The Ritual Committee agreed that it was a good thing to have and so once a month our Shabbat evening service (8 PM on Fridays) is designated as a Healing Service. Since its inception it has been accepted as a "good thing to do" and while the congregation is aware it is still in the formative stage they are learning the words and melodies that have become a part of the monthly service (an insertion into our regular Shabbat services that includes the Cantor leading us in Debby Friedman's songs and some appropriate meditations lead by our Rabbi) It does not noticeably lengthen the regular Friday night service but does provide some moments of needed compassion for fellow congregants and neighbors.
Babette 125 Members
Our current description of the healing service seeks to broaden the attraction of the service to those who may not be ill, but the word, ?healing,? carries too much baggage for even the broadest invitation to overcome. I haven't been able to think of a good way to involve the congregation as a whole; periodically making it a part of one or the other Friday night services would be better than the status quo, but that clearly presents numerous problems of its own. I?m convinced that a name change is essential.
Rabbi Helen Cohn in San Francisco told me that they are calling their comparable service "A Service of Comfort and Peace". I like that a lot - it is an honest description of the service's focus. Although it clearly addresses the needs of those who seek healing, it is equally directed at the greater number of us who are driven to the same goals, but not by illness. Because being sick makes us acutely aware of our need for comfort and peace, it is predictable that there will be an inordinate number of those who are facing a difficult illness. On the other hand, they would be able to attend without setting themselves apart from the congregation, and might be surrounded and supported not only by each other, the rabbi, the singer, and me.