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December 21, 2014 | 29th Kislev 5775
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Shabbat Morning Observance
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SHABBAT MORNING OBSERVANCE

 

The postings below include discussion about:

  • Additional Minyanim
  • Lay-Led Services
  • Torah Study

See also:

  • B'nei Mitzvah categories (especially B'nei Mitzvah Ceremony: Community Involvement)
  • Torah Reading on Friday Night
  • Torah Study


  1. At our congregation, for the past three years we have been holding a Shabbat morning meditation on the 2nd and 4th Shabbat of each month, prior to our regular service. Some congregants attend before service as a preparation for prayer, others as meditation alone. We have been well received and find that those who attend often take the meditation and make it part of their regular practice. The leaders regularly include a guided imagery created around the portion of the week. Other meditation practices have included some I learned at kallah. If you haven't experienced meditation as a part of your worship experience, consider it as a way of deepening the prayer process.

    Paula
    700 Families


  2. I have led my congregation's "alternative" Shabbat morning minyan service for about three years. Our group is small but strong, and it has developed into a caring and bonded community.

    My goal for the minyan is two-fold. On the one hand, I want the participants to feel a mastery of the Shabbat morning liturgy. I want them to understand what's going on in the service structurally and I want them to have increasing fluency with the Hebrew. This is happening through a combination of didactic but informal teaching on my part (for the former), plus sheer repetition (for the latter).

    But I also want the minyan experience to be innovative, alive, creative and stimulating. My challenge is to meet both the need for mastery and the need for creativity. I frequently introduce new music. We use the gender-sensitive GOP, but I always bring in supplemental material such as poetry, brief essays, drashot, etc. There is always an "Opening Meditation" and a "Closing Meditation." Sometimes the sources are Jewish, sometimes not. Recently, I've been using Rabbi Chaim Stern's book, "Day by Day: Reflections on the Weekly Torah Portion." I also use the work of poet Ruth Brin and psalmist Debbie Perlman, among others. I try to tie the meditations to the potion of the week or to the season or to some other external event (events in Israel, Sept. 11, etc.) For us, creatively working with our Movement's "official" liturgy works quite well.

    Kim
    550 Family Units)


  3. Our Shabbat Committee is about to try an additional, shortened Friday night service once a month, with a view to encouraging more people to come to Friday night services. Specifically, we are thinking about a shortened 6:00 PM service which could be followed by a dinner, which would then be followed by a full-length Friday night service for those congregants who prefer the later time. The idea would be to attract those people for whom the later service is less convenient given social evening plans for Friday night. We are also thinking of adding a 6 PM shortened family service.
    Ann

  4. My congregation began a second Shabbat morning service just about a year ago with the full support of our clergy, board, and religious practices committee. We start with a discussion of the week's Torah portion (along with coffee and bagels) at 8:30 AM, led by our senior rabbi.

    Our Cantor sometimes participates, as well. At around 9:15-ish our assistant rabbi joins us and the cantor and senior rabbi leave to prepare for the main service which starts at 9:45. This minyan then continues with a Shabbat morning service led by our assistant rabbi. Either the rabbi or a congregant reads Torah. One congregant (who was born and raised in Israel) usually reads Torah, although we are trying to get others to do this. On the rare occasion that our assistant rabbi is not available, the service is led by one of the "regulars". As far as the worship style, the minyan service is less formal, more participatory, and not focused on one or two families with children being called to the Torah.

    The dress in the minyan service is much more casual than in the sanctuary. There are several little things that we do that make this service a wonderful experience. We usually start with a niggun, or a brief moment reviewing the week in our minds, or a reading provided by the leader. We sit in a circle, and reading of the "leader" parts of the service progresses around the room. One of my favorites is that rather than the rabbi carrying the Torah around the room, we pass the Torah from person to person. This is very special to me, personally, because I was raised in a congregation where women were not allowed to handle the Torah. I cannot express what it meant to me when my 72-year-old mother joined us for services one week, and held the Torah for the first time in her life.

    We meet in the library where there is no reading table for the Torah. Instead, two members of the service sit facing each other, and their laps become the Torah table. People have commented that we should not even try to get a reading table -- we each enjoy having the honor of holding the Torah. The Torah blessings are chanted as a group, unless one individual has some occasion to honor (we've honored a 92nd birthday, ordination as rabbi, and an upcoming trip to Israel). And finally, there is motzi. We each grab a piece of the challah, and after the blessing we pull off a piece. It's not pretty, but it forces us to be physically close to each other (if you can't get an arm in, you have to have a hand on someone who's touching the challah) and bonds the group.

    This service has created a very strong community within our 500 family congregation. Social bonds have formed, and congregants who might otherwise not participate in congregational life are now active. We generally have 10 - 15 people on any given Saturday. While the number is small, we are a dedicated group who would otherwise not have a Shabbat morning worship experience

    Miriam
    500 members


  5. In reply to questions concerning lay led Shabbat services: I lead a monthly Shabbat morning service at a large temple where the Shabbat morning service had very few (less than 10) regular worshippers-- except when there was a bar/bat mitzvah. I myself rarely attended this service because those attending the b?nei mitzvah services appeared to have little interest in worship or community. Also, the service in the sanctuary was very formal and left me with the feeling that I never actually engaged in worship.

    The lay led service attracts people who enjoy worshipping together, learning together, and sharing a spiritual experience. This month we had 25 people attending. I accompany many of the melodies on an electronic keyboard and incorporate both traditional and contemporary tunes. We begin with a niggun to help us move from the everyday to the sacred. We have Torah readers-- some chant, some read and translate--, a d'var Torah, and an English reader. I lead the Hebrew reading/singing.

    We include a hakafah when we take out the Torah, and though this is definitely not the custom in the main sanctuary those attending the lay led service seem to enjoy it. We include the Mi Shebeirach during the Torah service. For the Torah blessing I generally ask those who wish to draw near to the Torah to come forward, recite the blessing and follow along with the reader. We have had one adult bat mitzvah, which was an especially wonderful experience.

    When there is no bar/bat mitzvah the rabbi usually attends the lay led service with the few worshippers who are "regulars" in the sanctuary. When a rabbi is present he leads the Kaddish (in keeping with our temple by laws). Otherwise I lead it. This experience has helped many of us learn and grow, and has helped us strengthen the connections among us. We comfort the mourners and celebrate the simchahs. We have a small Kiddish following the service where people socialize. None of this would have been possible without the support of the rabbi, and I am grateful for his encouragement.

    Arlene
    1527 members


  6. Our congregation offers lay led services every Saturday morning in the chapel. Either one of the para-rabbinic aides or I lead the worship. Congregants volunteer to prepare a short (3-7 lines) Torah reading and d'var Torah each week. The group is small (30 - 45 people) but it is a terrific service. It almost leads itself - everyone sings, congregants take turns reading, etc. Often, the rabbi is leading a bar/bat mitzvah service in the main sanctuary. If not, he will often join us as a participant.
    Iris
    825 members

  7. Our congregation has multiple services on Shabbat. There could be as many as three. One in the morning with b?nei mitzvah, our community service that runs at the same time in the morning, and one Shabbat afternoon to accommodate additional b?nei mitzvah. We are also blessed with two rabbis. Our solution is that there is always one rabbi at any service where there is a bar/bat mitzvah. If there are both morning and afternoon services, they are covered by different rabbis (generally). The community service on Shabbat morning is lay lead on the days when there are other services and a rabbi is not available. In this way, we try not to run the rabbis into the ground with services. It helps that there are lay people both willing and able to lead services.
    Paul
    840 members

  8. To build upon the posting about reclaiming Saturday morning services our congregation has been doing it for years. It begins with three torah study groups at 9 AM -- depending upon whom you want to study with (rabbi, cantor, or the eclectic independent minyan).

    Services are at 10:30 and are basically the same with or without a bar/bat mitzvah. If there is a bar/bat mitzvah the parents of the b?nei mitzvah are expected to supply enough food in the Kiddush for at least 25 extra congregants. Our services have never, in the 18 years I've been attending, been taken over by b?nei mitzvah families. We insist that this is an event where the child is taking a rightful place within the congregation as a whole.

    Jim
    447 members


  9. We are a small congregation, and many of our members are retired people. So we have only a small number of young families and therefore a small number of b'nei mitzvah. But we do have weekly Saturday morning services attended by a very loyal and regular group with a few add ons most weeks. I think the average attendance is about fifteen people. When there is a bar/bat mitzvah this suddenly swells to one hundred or more. I'm one of the regulars, and I love the Saturday morning service which is mostly sung in Hebrew. We have a weekly discussion of the Torah portion which is lively and interesting. It is a warm and wonderful experience each week.
    Sue
    160 units

  10. We have made some changes to our morning service recently, and I thought others would be interested.

    We have a morning service with a dedicated core every Saturday. We have Torah study first (at 8:30 A.M.) and the service starts at 9:00 A.M. We generally get about 15--20 people for the study and a total of 30--40 for the service.

    When there is a bar/bat mitzvah, which is almost every week, that service starts at 10:30 A.M. The rabbi leaves our service at about the time we get to the Torah service. A member of the minyan takes over at that point, conducting the Torah service and concluding prayers.

    We have about half a dozen Torah readers so far, and I am hoping to get a few more. We read one aliyah, or a subset thereof--we're trying to keep the barrier to entry low, and require only three verses (the halachic minimum), though reading the entire aliyah is encouraged. (I am the person who keeps track of this and assigns portions.)

    This format is new for us. We used to have the service first and then study, and no Torah service if there was a bar/bat mitzvah (because there wasn't time). Not only were we not getting a Torah service, but the rabbi generally had to leave fairly soon after the Torah study began, cutting into our ability to learn together. We decided to try swapping the two (the rabbi is more necessary for the study than for the service), and to try to encourage more lay people to take on the responsibility for the rest of the service. We've been doing this since September. There have been some bumps along the way as we all got used to it, but it seems to be working reasonably well.

    Monica
    855 families


  11. [Our congregation] has regular Shabbat morning services whether there is a bar/bat mitzvah or not. Since we're a congregation of 1200 family units, we generally have a bar/bat mitzvah on almost all Shabbats from September through June. We continue to have services on Saturday morning during the summer.

    For a number of years our Saturday morning Torah study people sometimes have had an alternative service in the library, and we have also had a "lay led service" in our chapel once a month where there is a straight worship service with a Torah reading and a d?rash. This alternative service has had the support of a music professional or the student cantor.

    Starting this past September, we also have been experimenting with a once a month alternative family Shabbat service (inviting adults and children to daven together), also in [the chapel], led I believe, by our student cantor. So far, we are getting favorable responses from the participants.

    Marvin


  12. At [our congregation], we have Shabbat morning services of one sort or another 52 weeks a year. Approximately 35--40 weeks a year (most, but not all, weeks from September to June) we have b'nei mitzvah (generally double) at morning services in our main sanctuary at 10:30 A.M., with one of our rabbis and our cantor conducting services. Every Shabbat morning at 9:15 A.M., we have a Torah study group of roughly 15--25 people who discuss the week's parashah with one of our rabbis in the library. They have a short morning service, without Torah reading, following the conclusion of Torah study at 10:30 A.M. If there is no bar/bat mitzvah that morning, the rabbi will lead the service; otherwise it is lay led. In addition, on the third Shabbat of each month at 10:30 A.M. in our smaller sanctuary, we have a lay led morning service with Torah reading. The service is conducted by a group of congregants, with musical leadership by a student cantor or cantorial soloist, and generally attracts from 15--25 adults and a few children. On the fourth Shabbat of each month, we have a Tot Shabbat at 10:00 A.M. in the [smaller sanctuary]. The service is led by a cantorial student [using] Gates of Prayer for Young People and includes a Torah reading by either the cantorial student or one of the parents. The service has attracted 50--60 people.

    Tom
    1200 families


  13. As you can see from this listserv, diversity of opinion is not unique to your synagogue. It is something we all struggle with. Our unwritten motto, at our over 160-year-old synagogue is "evolution, not revolution." That doesn't mean it is always easy.

    As far as Shabbat morning worship goes...our synagogue holds an informal, lay led service in our chapel every Shabbat following Torah study, even if there is a bar or bat mitzvah focused service in our sanctuary.

    Typically, one of our para-rabbinic fellows facilitates, but I have done so as well, and when all of us are gone, we have some other trained leaders. It is a wonderful service, done with us all seated in a circle, no one leading from a bimah. The English readings are shared--folks have come to learn that if you sit to the left of the leader you are likely to read. It just flows, we very rarely need to prompt the next reader. Attendance ranges from about twenty to forty people.

    What is most exciting to me is that each year well over twenty-five congregants read Torah in this setting. (We already have twenty-one different folks who have signed up for this year, from Bereshit through mid March.) The reader, who signs up in advance, chooses three to seven lines of the portion that is meaningful to him/her. They take responsibility for the reading and for sharing a short d'var. For many, this setting has given them the encouragement to step back to the Torah for the first time since age 13, and for many for the first time ever. We all gather around the Torah table, "approaching Sinai," so to speak--a true community supporting the reader.

    Iris
    680 families


  14. I found the question of Shabbat services when there is no bar/bat mitzvah interesting. This year's b'nei mitzvah class is the largest for some time with twenty-two children--one set of triplets--which means for over half the year we do not have a bar/bat mitzvah. Most years there are about ten to fifteen. However, we hold Shabbat morning services every week throughout the year--including August and over the Christmas holidays--all of which are led by our rabbi except when he is on holiday and then they are lay led. There is a regular attendance of between thirty and fifty people on Shabbat morning; more attend Erev Shabbat. Our Shabbat service starts at 11:00 A.M. and finishes at about 12.30 P.M. There are other special services throughout the year, for example, baby namings and aufrufs where the attendance is obviously higher due to the number of guests present. We also hold a monthly family service which is led by different classes from the cheder. Twice a month we have a lunch following the service, once after the family service and once when separate services are held for the 11s and unders.

    Our congregation has about 700 families and about 200 children--up to age 21.

    Phyllis


  15. We have been trying different models for a Saturday morning service for a number of years.

    When we first started we did it as a separate "early" (9:00 A.M.) service. Self contained, a bit of learning, a bit of Torah study and/or a bit of choreography, usually within a one hour to one and one quarter hour time frame. When there was a bar or bat mitzvah at the "regular" (10:30 A.M.) service, we might have cut it short a bit in deference to the rabbi who would be leading that service. Well, I guess 9:00 A.M. is too early for too many people, because the 9:00 A.M. model seems to have died a natural death.

    Our model now is that when there is no bar or bat mitzvah we have an "informal" service. Rabbi and Cantorial Soloist off the Bimah starts at 10:30 A.M. Lots of singing/chanting/participating in the readings. Various regular attendees have taken "ownership" of various portions of the service. For instance when my daughter attends, she leads the Nisim b'chol yom. I will chant the Readers Kaddish when the cantorial soloist is not there, as well as add harmony for various selections. We use the "Gates of Gray" almost exclusively (for all regular services, festivals being the exception. We have tried Mishkan T?filah as well as some other siddurim in anticipation of putting together our own siddur.

    David
    425+ families


  16. My congregation has lay led services on the Saturdays when there is no bar or bat mitzvah led service. Often young adults (teens) lead these with some adults doing blessings or Torah or haftarah readings. Usually we have a cantor, too. Our rabbi attends and leads Kaddish. We have about sixty to seventy people there, and there is a Kiddush Luncheon afterwards. They are perfect for people who don't drive at night, although very few of our retired community attends. They are often the morning after a family service so that folks who don't attend those have an alternative. I really enjoy them!
    Penny
    550 families

  17. Last year our Ritual Committee began conducting Shabbat Morning Services after not having done so for many years. We led four services last year and will be doing four this year as well. Our attendance is a bit low, but we love doing them for the congregation. Recently our rabbi has been joining us for worship and tells us how much he enjoys our service. We usually have eight or nine participants and more often than not, lead our own music. We chant Torah and haftarah. We usually invite a recent bar or bat mitzvah to participate as well.
    Barbara
    540 families

  18. Both the congregation where I belong and the congregation where I work have Shabbat morning services 52 weeks a year. Both congregations have under 400 families, and in the absence of either the cantor or rabbi or both, the services are led by or assisted by congregants. Additionally, [the one to which I belong] has a pre-service Torah study group that is lay led every Shabbat morning.
    Rita

  19. We are a small congregation (120 families) and have Saturday morning services on the second and fourth Saturday. We started with adult education on Saturday mornings and then added a Saturday morning service about a year later. Our adult education is at 9:00 A.M., followed by a 10:00 A.M. service. On mornings when we have a b'nei mitzvah, we have Torah study at 9:00 A.M.--it's easier for the rabbi to prepare and for people to continue on when he leaves to finish getting ready for the b'nei mitzvah service. We have between fifteen and thirty people show up on a regular basis when there is no b'nei mitzvah.
    Judith
    120 members

  20. With a congregation of 95 families and a part time rabbi, we hold Shabbat morning services on the first Saturday of the month. We usually have six to ten b'nei mitzvah events a year, and most of the time they fill the months of April through June. The rest of the year we gear the service to the students to make them familiar with the differences between erev and Shabbat morning.

    Sharon
    95 families


      1. The rabbi leads a popular 9:00 A.M. Saturday morning Torah class every week. Although it started as an Adult Education activity, the rabbi explained that this is to be considered a form of Shabbat worship.
      2. About twice a month, an alternative small-group "spirituality" service follows at 10:00 A.M. As many as possible (around 50%) of the "alternative" services are lay led by members of the group. The rabbi always attends, even if he is not leading that week. This sixty to ninety minute service (which includes a brief, informal challah-and-grape juice Kiddush) is held in a small room containing an auxiliary ark. Attendance for this service is currently extremely small, but those who do attend are very committed.
      3. Bar/bat mitzvah services when they occur are held 10:00 A.M., after Torah class, which may supplant the "alternate" service. It is my personal observation that the Shabbat morn services for bar/bat mitzvah are attended basically by invited family/guests, a few board members who may have functions to perform, and pre-bar/bat mitzvah children who are required to attend a certain number of them.

    Thus far, these are the only Saturday morning activities for which we've ever been able to get enough interest to continue. Members of our congregation in general seem to find it vastly more feasible to come to services on Friday night than to come on Saturday.

    Marian
  21. For those who are interested in initiating or changing Shabbat morning services, I would encourage you to take a look at a publication of the Union's Department of Worship, Music and Religious Living titled Hinei Mah-Tov: "How Good It Is . . ." When Communities Come Together on Shabbat Morning. The publication contains models of numerous different types of Shabbat morning experiences from a number of Reform congregations throughout the country, including my own. You can either order the publication from the department or print it off the Web. Please go to www.urj.org/worship/resources for instructions.
    George
    900 households


  22. We have had Shabbat morning services every week for several years now. There is a lay-led Tanach study at 9:00 A.M., a service at 10:00 A.M., and Torah study at 11:00 A.M. For about the past year, there has been at least a minyan for nearly all services. When the associate rabbi is available, she leads the service and Torah study. When there is a bar or bat mitzvah that weekend, she usually attends that instead.

    Katherine
    550? Families


  23. Yes, we have services every Saturday morning, regardless of whether or not there is a bar or bat mitzvah. We have a bar or bat mitzvah at least half to two-thirds of the weekends each year. A non-bar/bat mitzvah service is typically a much smaller (sometimes without a minyan), more informal service. Up until some years ago, however, we normally did not hold a Saturday service unless there was a bar or bat mitzvah.

    David
    440 member units


  24. We do have weekly services regardless. Because there are over fifty-five kids in 7th grade (and have been for some years) we have b'nei mitzvah every Saturday. A year ago we started a monthly "alternative" service" led by one of the rabbis (they alternate). It usually has a minyan, but not more than twenty-five. However, when our new assistant rabbi led in November (she used a siddur she created while at HUC), the chapel was packed with over 100 people. She leads again this weekend, and I expect another large turnout.

    Fred
    900 units


  25. Once upon a time, the congregation "owned" the Shabbat morning service, and gave the maftir aliyah to the bar mitzvah boy, and probably also gave an aliyah to the father and grandfather(s). The other aliyot were distributed by the shamash. One of the major reasons so many congregations that participate in this list have "alternative" services on Shabbat morning is because what should be a service for the regular daveners has become a show put on by and for an individual family. (In some congregations, the message is clear that Shabbat morning services with a bar mitzvah are by invitation only.)

    Larry


  26. We have allowed family celebrations to take over what should be a community service--so those who want a community service have had to flee elsewhere, contributing even more to the problem. This is why I dislike Friday night b'nei mitzvah; so far, that service (at least in the congregations I'm familiar with) is still owned by the community, and I'd like to keep it that way.

    I don't think the ownership issue is an argument against a Minchah service, though--as we've seen, the congregation already doesn't own the service containing a bar/bat mitzvah most of the time, so does it matter if the service we don't go to is Minchah instead of Shacharit? Rather, the problem with offering Minchah services (that the congregation otherwise wouldn't have) is the extra load on the rabbis, cantors, and staff for what is essentially a private party. Perhaps the effort to reclaim services for the congregation starts with families being forced by circumstances to share the spotlight.

    Monica
    855 families


  27. Way back when, my bar mitzvah was simply a part of the Saturday morning service that occurred 52 weeks/year. [At my current congregation], Saturday services occur only when there is a bar/bat mitzvah. When we have tried to have a "routine" Shabbat service, we are lucky if we have half a dozen people show up. For this reason the services seem to be "private". Even those who might ordinarily feel motivated to come to the service do not come because they were not invited.

    The services seem even the more private when you hear the demands families make about how the services are to be conducted. The service becomes all about the family rather than Shabbat. Instead of the child being honored by being called to read from the Torah, some feel that the congregation should feel honored by being allowed to attend the "coronation" so to speak. It becomes a show.

    Just venting, I suspect!The problem is not with the families of the b'nei mitzvah. Rather, I believe there is a more fundamental problem concerning our failure to celebrate Shabbat as a community for 24 hours.

    Jim
    230+


  28. How can anyone invite new worshipers to Shabbat lunch with prayer, discussions, etc. at someone's house when nobody has Shabbat lunch? Heck, how can anyone invite new worshipers to service when the Shabbat morning service is composed mostly of non-Jews and/or non-observant, disinterested Jews?

    Reform shuls have to do a better job of appealing to the prayerful.

    Brendan


  29. [Our congregation] has had a regular Shabbat Shacharit minyan for some ten years or so, usually in our chapel (seats 85 with 40+/- regulars), at 9:00 A.M. Generally our assistant rabbi will lead prayers, although from time to time we have experienced lay leadership. There is no sermon as such but the rabbi will present a brief inter-active d'var on the weekly parashah. Shacharit is followed at 10:15 +/- by Torah study, at which rabbis will constitute resources, and members will share reading in English from the Plaut Chumash. A member volunteers to provide bagels and cream cheese, and sometimes even more to provide the meal without which there is no Torah. Our cantor will ordinarily will be our sh?liach tzibur, but occasionally during her absence a lay person will assume that responsibility. We use GOP Sabbath A.M. Service 1. We enjoy the ability to have two rabbis and a cantor. Each year a handful of bar or bat mitzvah are celebrated as part of our regular Shabbat service, sometimes in our chapel and occasionally, but rarely, in the sanctuary. In honor of the event, aliyot are assigned by the b'nei mitzvah family, otherwise they are self-selected from a volunteer shammas. The classic traditional private bar and bat mitzvah are celebrated at 11:00 A.M. in the sanctuary with all clergy in attendance. In this way we are able to accommodate the desires of families at various levels of observance in our community. We do recognize that it works only because of our size. Perhaps, some variation would work in a smaller congregation with fewer members and clergy.

    Dick
    1090 member units


  30. We have an informal morning service that is separate from the B?nei Mitzvah Service. (The former has a regular community; the latter tends to be just the family and their guests.) Because the service times overlap, we had been omitting the Torah Service so the rabbi could be upstairs in time. Last summer we decided that this had to change, and since September we have been having members of the group complete the service, including a Torah Service.

    Each week a different person is responsible for this part of the service. "Responsible" means that person reads Torah, chooses the honors, gives a short d'var Torah, reads (or delegates) haftarah, and either leads the service (Torah Service and concluding prayers) or recruits someone else to do so. I maintain the schedule of readers; the rest of the assignments are up to them.

    Our congregation reads one of the seven aliyot (not all seven), and typically we have just one aliya rather than sub-dividing it. (Occasionally we subdivide if it's long or if there are multiple people we specifically want to honor.) In this minyan we do not always read the complete aliya, depending on the length of the aliya and the skill/commitment of the lay reader. (Some of them are doing this for the first time in decades; I want to encourage them, not intimidate them with a 30-verse portion.) We always read the Torah portion in Hebrew. Some people read and others chant; some translate verse by verse and others at the end. We leave this up to the reader.

    So the honors are typically one aliya, hagbah, and g'lilah. The reader may invite someone else to read haftarah (we do that in English), and as I said, may invite someone else to lead the service. So depending on how that plays out, we'll have four to six people involved in this part of the service. Typical attendance is around thirty.

    We do not have rules for assigning honors. The Torah reader is free to assign them however he chooses. We try to make sure it's not the same people all the time, but it's a group-awareness thing; we don't keep a list.

    This service attracts a strong, regular community already, so this is a supportive environment in which people can try new things. Several of our lay readers have read for the first time since bar/bat mitzvah during this past year, and I'm very proud of them for taking the plunge.

    During the coming year I hope to have a trope class for those who are interested; thus far we're all self-taught. (Including me. I'm not qualified to teach a trope class; we need outside help for this. We're working on it.)

    Monica


  31. A number of us have started a six-month experiment of once-a-month lay-led alternative Shabbat Shacharit services in the shul library. Some of us are comfortable with Hebrew singing and chanting during the service, so we handle large parts (and get practice!). We try to guarantee a minyan by handing out English or Hebrew readings for the siddur for other parts: The Holiness Code, The Hoda'ah, the prayers for government and Israel, etc.

    Thus, each time a number of people act as prayer leader at one point or another in the service. Because it's lay-led, the shul isn't involved in assigning prayer leader/Torah reading participation. Responsibility for assigning parts falls on a single person for each service, a volunteer to coordinate things. That person usually handles the parts that don't get assigned and gets to cherry-pick songs or prayers to read/sing.

    If the person who's handling the reading of Torah knows the Hebrew chant for the calling up of someone to read Torah, then he/she uses it. If not, we use English: "I'd like to call ... NAME ... to the amud for a Torah reading."

    [As for terminology we use and how we translate each term:] We use "Ta'amod ... NAME ... likro ba'Torah."

    The honors are distributed to anyone who would like to read. The person organizing that service distributes verses from the portion to interested readers at least three weeks in advance.

    Our Torah readers in the first four months of this experiment have read or chanted Hebrew from the scroll. We've had three or more readers each time. After they read the Hebrew from the scroll, they read the English translation.

    [Laura?s] question gives me an idea I think we've neglected: Everybody could be involved in the aliyot if we used other members of the minyan to read the English translation!

    We've had a Torah study for a few years now that has gone from a handful to a steady core of at least twenty people. Sometimes there are as many as thirty-five to forty. There's also an off-site book club that meets once a month.

    I think a challenge for Reform synagogues is to encourage members to treat Shabbat as a communal day of rest and find meaning, joy and spiritual sustenance in Shabbat meals with family and friends, Shabbat study and any other Shabbat events that bring scattered Jews together on the important holiday each week. We need more of it!

    Brendan
    roughly 250 families


  32. In planning for a "community service" to run parallel to (or at least supplementary to) your "bar mittzvah" service, you didn't indicate the size of the congregation, and hence your ability to sustain two events.

    Given the reality of Shabbat morning in most congregations, distribution of honors at the alternative service will not be an issue--it'll depend on who's there on a given morning. In some congregations, the clergy are committed to the b?nei mitzvah service in the main sanctuary, and any alternative "minyan" tends to be lay-led. While we may deplore the privatization of the Shabbat morning service to accommodate the paying public, it's a reality, from what I hear, for most of us.

    I've never attended, but [our congregation] has a "spirituality" service on Shabbat morning that has attracted a loyal but not necessarily substantial following. The "regular" Shabbat service, on weeks when there is not a bar/t mitzvah, has Torah honors assigned by a rabbi, depending on who's there: a "carrier" for hakafah, an aliyah for the Torah blessings and another for the haftarah blessings. Torah is read in Hebrew, typically by the rabbi or cantor...if there is a lay reader, it's been pre-arranged. When there is a bar/t mitzvah, many of the congregants who have come for Torah study just leave....but they tend to do that even when there isn't one...some folks like to study, but not to pray. (This is a corollary to my observation about meetings and about adult education: people don't come to listen, they come to talk.)

    Years ago, when we tried a service concurrent with the b?nei mitzvah, it foundered in part because there weren't enough lay people to read Torah in Hebrew, which was one of the goals around which the experiment had been built.

    I applaud any effort to create a Shabbat morning service that will be meaningful to those who participate, and I recommend that you go for it without worrying about protocols. But I would avoid using the word "community" to describe it--it's intrinsic in the fact that there are two services that you are dividing the community....and that you are accepting a change in the significance of the bar/t mitzvah. The young person is not affirming his acceptance of his religious responsibilities in front of the community, but rather is signaling that he has completed a prescribed course of study and is entitled to perform for family and friends.

    Larry
    1300 membership units


  33. Should Reform communities be working to integrate into a single service the spiritual needs of the few who pray Shabbat mornings and the many who are attending bar/bat mitzvah prayer services as spectators at a performance, or will the two remain apart?

    I realize this question has different answers for every synagogue, but as an overarching philosophy, should Reform communities work to integrate the community of interested daveners into bar/bat mitzvah-child-dominated services?

    Brendan


  34. We have held an informal lay led Shabbat morning service every week for over seven years, attended regularly by now anywhere from twenty to forty people; but this took time. It is done with all of us sitting "in the round" in our chapel--no separation of leader and congregation. There is always a facilitator, typically one of our para-rabbinic aides or myself. We share the English readings in the first part of the worship, moving around the inner circle. (This is important--regulars know where to sit depending upon whether they wish to read or worship quietly, and an outer circle offers those who wish to be a bit distant to do so even in the intimacy of this worship service.)

    We begin the Amidah together (through the K?dushah) and complete it silently. Then we move into the Torah service.

    Congregants sign up to read Torah in advance and get to choose which three to seven lines of the parsha they would like to read. We provide prep help and practice, as needed; as long as someone can read Hebrew with vowels, we encourage them to take this next step. The other part of the honor is to prepare a short d'var (sometimes these two roles are split between two family members or friends).

    We start the Torah service with us all still sitting--and the person shares the d'var. Then, we gather together, standing at the ark for the remainder of the service. The Torah service is led by the reader or facilitator of the day. The reader does a hakafah with the Torah and the facilitator and reader undress and dress it. The congregation recites the Torah b?rachot together. We do not engage in the rituals of calling anyone specifically to the Torah.

    Though we did, for a while, add the reading of the haftarah in English, we have since dropped that from our practice at the request of the regular participants. So, we move right from the Torah reading and dressing of Torah to the Aleinu and Mourner's Kaddish. The service lasts just about an hour (this follows for many 1 to 1½ hours of Torah study). We follow it with Kiddush, Motzi and schmooze time in an adjacent lounge area--which continues to build community.

    If I have one bit of advice, whatever you do, give it time to grow and regularly check with those who attend to have them help to shape the service. (Discuss what is and isn?t working; change music selections, etc.) That, more than anything, will help to build community.

    Iris
    680 member units


  35. I learned to love Shabbat morning services because we belonged to a Conservative congregation. I am sad now that we are in a small Reform congregation, that we do not even have Shabbat morning services except on special occasions. So for us, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah is truly the reason for the service, but I still prefer to keep it as a community event. When we had a bar mitzvah service for our son last month, we had many relatives and friends in attendance, but also most of the congregation, especially the Friday night regulars.

    We have another bar mitzvah coming up in our congregation in July (two in one year is a lot for us!) The mother informed me that they would not be doing the hakafah because in the synagogue where she grew up, this was not done and her family would not be used to it. I replied that it is the custom in our congregation to do it, and congregants might miss it. She then expressed the opinion that since this was "their service," it should be done how they wanted. Time for education!! With the help of some suggestions from our student rabbi, I explained to the mom the reasoning and traditions behind the hakafah. I also explained how I felt that, although the service was being done because of the bar mitzvah, it is still a service of this congregation and that her son would be taking on the responsibilities of a member of this congregation. This is his community and his minyan. I then said that we would not require that the hakafah be done, but that I would like her to make an informed decision. The family discussed it and decided that it would be important to do the hakafah because it is the custom of this congregation, and this is the congregation their son is a part of/ is becoming a member of.

    This is a lot easier in a small congregation such as ours. The idea of the b?nei mitzvah service belonging to the family, though, is very sad to me and for that I'm very glad to be where I am!

    Jo
    28 families


  36. [RE: Should Reform communities work to integrate the community of interested daveners into bar/bat mitzvah-child-dominated services?]

    I think it has to happen the other way. At a previous synagogue, I started to see this happening.

    1. Existing Bar/Bat Mitzvah service with few congregants in attendance.
    2. Create a dynamic Shabbat morning service for regular daveners.
    3. Invite families to attend #2, motivate them by making it kid friendly, but not kid-centric.
    4. If #3, eventually, those kids may want to have their Bar/Bat Mitzvah's at #2 not at the traditional Bar/Bat Mitzvah service.
    5. Accommodate those families and encourage the community of worshipers by allowing Bar/Bat Mitzvah's to be either in style #1 or style #2--with their corresponding communities of worship. The community worships together for simchas too.
    One way to make #3 happen is to provide a Sunday school experience on Shabbat morning while the adults engage in a long Torah study. If this replaces regular Sunday school as a Bar/Bat Mitzvah experience (with an attendance requirement for parents and kids) than all of a sudden kids are primed to be part of Shabbat morning services every week hopefully for the rest of their lives.

    Laura
    1000+ families


  37. The active phrase, 'building community' refers to my goal to create a warm and comfortable atmosphere of regular attendees. There may be two (or more) 'communities' of worship in one congregation. For example, the regular attendees on Friday night form a 'community of worship', as do those who attend the Bar/Bat Mitzvah service, even when there is overlap. At any rate, at our synagogue we still need to create a community of worship for Saturday mornings, because the number of congregants who attend regularly is limited mostly to the cohorts (classmates) of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah kids and their parents.

    Laura 1000+ households


  38. [RE: Do you use Hebrew/traditional terminology for these honors? If so, what terminology do you use and how do you translate each term?]
    Let me rephrase this:
    At your shul, what tasks does the Hagbah do?
    What tasks does the Galila do?
    If I say, "I have an aliyah today," am I:
    a) Chanting the Torah blessings?
    b) Reading the Torah portion?
    Is there any Hebrew term for dressing/undressing the Torah?
    Are there any other traditional job terms?
    Laura


  39. At [our congregation] we have had a monthly lay-led Shabbat morning service in our small sanctuary, for the last six years. There is also a rabbi and cantor-led service with b'nai/b'not mitzvah in our main sanctuary approximately forty weeks per year, which is attended mostly by family and friends of the b'nai/b'not mitzvah. Both services begin at 10:30 A.M. The lay-led service attracts anywhere from ten to twenty-five people each month and is designed to be an adult service that is welcoming to children. Until the last year, we frequently had families with young children attend and we provided a table where the young children could color with crayons or play quietly. Last fall, we started a monthly morning tot Shabbat service on a different Saturday morning from the lay-led service and attendance by families with young children at the latter service has dropped off.

    The lay-led service has always had a professional musician, either a cantorial soloist or student cantor, helping to lead the service with one of the participants (frequently me). We use Gates of Prayer for Shabbat and Weekdays (Gates of Gray) and do the full morning service, including the morning blessings, in a mixture of Hebrew and English. We use a bit more Hebrew then is the normal minhag at [our congregation] (which is on the Hebrew-centric side of Reform), but not so much that worshippers feel they are attending a Conservative service. We sing most of the Hebrew prayers and enjoy learning new melodies when the cantorial soloist/student cantor suggests introducing them. We sit in a semi-circle and take turns going around the room for the English prayers.

    Each month, one of the participants volunteers to read Torah (we currently have people signed up through November of this year) and, if they want, to do a d'var Torah. The d'vrei Torah have ranged from a short summary of the parshah to a learned discourse. The Torah reader can select any part of the parshah and any number of lines, with a minimum of three verses. It is up to the Torah reader whether he or she reads or chants. The majority chant--many are graduates of the adult bar/bat mitzvah program and want to have another opportunity to chant Torah--but we have a few regulars who know Hebrew and enjoy reading and doing interlinear translation. Our cantor is happy to make tapes for chanters who need help figuring out the cantillation marks. As to honors, occasionally a participant will let me know in advance of a special occasion and request the aliyah (we generally have just one). Otherwise, when I am leading services, I ask if there is anyone who would like the aliyah or else we do the blessings as a congregation. I also ask if anyone would like to do hagbah (raising the scroll) and I have used the occasion to teach several people how to do it worrying about dropping the scroll. If no one volunteers, I do it. I also ask a congregant to help dress the Torah (glilah). It's all very informal. I also ask congregants (children if any are present) to come up to the bimah to open the ark for the Torah service and for Aleinu. We do not normally have a haftarah reading, but if we had a volunteer to chant haftarah we would do it. After the Torah reading, we put away the scroll and have a ten to fifteen minute discussion of the parshah, followed by Aleinu, Kaddish, and a closing song (usually Adon Olam). We finish with Kiddush in the hallway outside the small sanctuary.

    It is very hard to get busy families to spend their Saturday mornings in shul rather than at soccer and other leisure events. In a congregation of our size (almost 1200 families), I would have thought we could regularly get at least thirty people to attend morning services, but it has been a struggle, and the service would not continue if not for a small group of us who work hard to make sure that it happens every month.

    Tom


  40. [RE: At your shul, what tasks does the Hagbah do?]
    Lifts the Torah (displaying the text for the congregation), then holds it while it is dressed and during the haftarah reading, and then carries it to the ark and helps put it away.

    [RE: What tasks does the Galila do?]
    Dresses the Torah after hagbahah.

    [If one says "I have an aliyah today," one is] chanting (or reciting) the blessings. You are also, in our minyan, carrying the Torah for a hakafah (procession around the room) or, if not physically able to do that, walking with it while the service leader or Torah reader carries it. You then help the Torah reader undress it.

    In our service people sit in a circle, so the hakafah is just walking around that circle to give everyone who wants a chance to touch the sefer Torah. Most people do not shake the aliyah's hand while this happens (even if that person isn't carrying the sefer Torah) because that slows down the service; greetings and congratulations come after the service is over.)

    Monica


  41. We're considering introducing a family-friendly Shabbat morning service that would run in parallel with our main service. I've browsed through some of the recent archives for this list and read about other congregations that have done this already.

    A number of people have mentioned that their congregations have created their own siddurim for these alternative services. Would anyone on this list be willing to share their work with us? Some of the guidelines we're looking at are:

    • Service approximately one hour in length.
    • Hebrew, transliteration, and English for most or all prayers.
    • A variety of "participatory" elements, e.g. communal readings, call/response between the leader and congregation, etc. It would be great to learn from others what has worked well (or poorly) in this area.
    Dan


  42. We hold an informal Shabbat morning service each week. Dress is informal. We all sit in a double layered circle (to allow those who wish to be a bit "hidden" to have that option) and the English readings pass along the circle to the lay facilitator's left (using a consistent fashion lets all who attend even semi-regularly know where to sit based upon whether they wish to read or just participate). We use the Shabbat morning service in CCAR's "Gates of Grey." There is a Torah reading of three to five lines (done by a different volunteer each week with sign-up in advance) and a short d'var by the reader. No haftarah is done. The service lasts fifty to sixty minutes.
    Iris
    680 member units


  43. I am on the Religious Activities Committee of my temple, and at our meeting this morning I mentioned a situation that I feel will become a major problem: The lack of congregants who attend Shabbos morning service when there is a bar/bas mitzvah. Last week at services, aside from congregants who were invited to the bar mitzvah, the presenter seated on the bimah and myself, there was only one other congregant. Because the bar mitzvah has become the central focus of the morning (instead of the service), many of the congregants will only attend services on Friday night...What, if anything, are you trying to do to lure congregants back to Shacharis?...
    Jon


  44. I have been on and off Religious Services (Ritual) committees over the last maybe thirty years at two temples. This topic has been discussed without any apparent solution or resolution for that long and probably longer. It is, I believe a manifestation of the larger problem of how to get people to come to services on any kind of a regular basis at all. Some are coming because they have yahrzeit, some are coming because there is a mandatory service requirement for pre bar/bat mitzvah students and some, very few, of us who come to services because that is what you do on Shabbat.

    If anyone comes up with a solution, I am sure the entire Reform world would love to hear it.

    Dave
    400+ member units


  45. We indeed face a similar dilemma. As the b'mitzvah kids take over more of the service the "regulars" become less likely to attend, there is a sense that the service has been hijacked by the family. This results in a tension between families whose children are capable of leading the service and the congregants who come for a rabbinic lead service. It also creates a tension between the capable, interested children and those who are less motivated or capable.

    At [our congregation], for the most part, the b'mitzvah are limited to the Torah Service and the first aliyah is reserved for those in the congregation who have reason to come to Torah (a communal aliyah). The tension arises when special children want to lead more of the service and when parents chose to give extended speeches when a few words of blessing are most appropriate. The tension exists, but the number of regulars drifting away has declined and a new stability has been achieved. We now need to find ways to encourage those who have drifted away to return and to encourage new attendees.

    The good news is that there is tension and out of tension comes growth and change.

    Paul


  46. This recent thread has also been on Temple Chat [another Union listserv]. We all know that this is an ongoing issue that can't be addressed or resolved quickly. There are so many pieces of modern Jewish American family life that intersect here. Let me suggest that you look at a publication from last Biennial, Hinei Mah-Tov: 'How Good It Is...' When Communities Come Together on Shabbat Morning (www.urj.org/worship/resources). In this collection of narratives, nine Reform congregations recount how they have created spiritually meaningful Shabbat morning experiences. Perhaps it's a way to open the conversation in your congregations.
    Rabbi Sue Ann Wasserman, Director
    Department of Worship, Music and Religious Living
    Union for Reform Judaism


  47. It's a hard problem, yes. Our congregation has a dedicated group of people who come on Shabbat mornings--usually 30-40 people. But these people come to a service that is separate from the "bar mitzvah service", which is widely regarded as being owned by the bar-mitzvah family. Yes, anyone can go to the BM service, but most people don't. (I go to the regular, non-bar-mitzvah, service.)

    I wasn't around for the creation of this service. I believe it was created originally to make sure there would be a service every week--while we now have a bar or bat mitzvah almost every Shabbat, we didn't when this service was created. I don't think it started out as an alternative to BM services, but that's one of its functions now, and the services are different enough that I don't see much likelihood of merger. I don't think it's right to tell the people who actually come every week that they need to change what they're doing, and I don't think the families will accept changes that reduce the prominence of the BM family in the service.

    So in our case, at least, people are perfectly willing to come on Shabbat--but want to come to a regular service with an established community where everyone participates, not a family production at which most congregants feel like outsiders.

    Monica
    ~860 households


  48. This is really a twist! In our congregation it is the opposite situation. We can only get people to come when there is a b?nei mitzvah and then the "house" is well filled. Either way, there is no real easy solution. I believe we need to change our culture, so to speak, where the b?nei mitzvah is the main event or raison d'etre. Shabbat should always reign supreme. The b?nei mitzvah should be a part of the service on Shabbat and not the other way around. In our congregation those who are not invited to the party do not wish to seem like interlopers and in your setting it seems the same is true. Education is the key for the entire congregation as well as the family with the b?nei mitzvah. It should never be considered "their" day. Shabbat is for everyone. The party, on the other hand, is for them to do as they wish.
    Jim
    230+


  49. Two Jews, three opinions is outmoded. Here I am, one Jew with at least three opinions.
    1. Shabbat belongs to the Jewish people, localized to the congregation, and not to the bar mitzvah family. Shabbat worship should not only be open to all, but all should be made to feel welcome. I concur with my lantsman Rabbi Black (see the Hinei Mah-Tov [publication (www.urj.org/worship/resources) to which our attention was called]) that b?nei mitzvah should be neither personal nor parallel services.
    2. Having said that, we need to realize that the bar mitzvah family is most likely not sending the signals of unwelcome. The regulars may very well be taking that on themselves--resenting as it were the absence of the "clubbiness" of the non-bar-mitzvah Shabbat. Certainly people have a right to "vote with their feet," but they need to remember when they stay away that they are not staying away from the bar mitzvah, they are staying away from the synagogue and from Shabbat worship. And they are strengthening the sense on the part of the family that they own the morning!
    3. I think it's the rabbi's obligation--in which he needs absolute support from the lay leadership--to keep the bar mitzvah in perspective and not to give thePeople can volunteer for an aliyah (Torah blessings) or someone is invited to take that honor after everyone has arrived.
    4. Those who can't, or don't want to, read Torah can sign up in advance to read haftarah in English, and can also give a short d’rash about that week's reading. The whole minyan sings the haftarah blessings together.
    5. Community is very important to everyone in the group. When a regular is missing, we call. At the end of the service, the wine-and-challah Kiddush provides a forum for announcing family simchas and travel plans, for introducing newcomers and welcoming back old friends. We say a Mi Shebeirach for the sick during the Torah service, and at Kiddush we share news of our members who have been ill.
    6. We love the children of our few young regulars, who are welcome to read or play in the adjacent children's library and to wander in to sit with a parent at any time during the service. They are invited to dress the Torah, and are heartily congratulated for their participation.
    7. During the first few years, we had a dairy potluck lunch once a month at different people's homes, which was very popular and gave everyone a chance to get to know each other. However, after a while it felt like a burden and the group decided to stop. Now we have an anniversary lunch at the temple once a year, and lunches at people's homes for Sukkot and occasional other events.
    8. Individual contributions are welcomed and admired. One member has a fabulous challah recipe and bakes for us every week, to great applause. A member-artist made sketches for three different designs for a Torah cover, the group voted overwhelmingly for one design, and we now have our own Torah cover made with velvet contributed by another member and embroidery by yet another. Appalled that we kept our Torah in a cabinet in the library office, one member commissioned a small ark. A visitor offered to adorn the cloth we use to cover the Torah-reading table. After we had too few prayer books for a happy occasion with lots of visitors (siddurim tend to "walk") a member donated dozens more.
    9.  Vivian

      1800 family units
    10. Nov 2006 Digest 177

                  We do find community in other pursuits of our Judaism. But, I think we are looking again at one of the root causes of the Saturday morning Bar/Bat Mitzvah problem.

                  Shabbat affords us the opportunity to come together as a whole community--young, old, men, women, WRJ, Brotherhood, etc.--and know each other, who we are as Jews, as individuals. It is where we can share and celebrate our lives. But if we segregate ourselves in smaller, sub groups, then we loose that connection to the larger whole. So, when a family has a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, we might say--who? I am not part of that group? Does it matter to me? It might matter if we had some connection to them prior to that at a regular Shabbat services.

                  Shabbat is the introduction to the community. It is where you can dip your toe in the water and start to know people. How many people join a synagogue so they can be on a committee? This is the first thing we offer people and as Rabbi Yoffie has pointed out many times--it is the last thing we should bring up to new members, or lapsed members. Over time people might want to join study groups etc., but I thing that we have a whole lot of Jews out there thirsting for a spiritual connection and community, and we are not providing it.

      Barbara
    11. March 2007 Digest 031

                  …Torah  Study…as part of our  answer as to how to get (more) people to participate (more) on Saturday  morning.

                  At my congregation we have three avenues for Torah study on Shabbat morning. At 9:30am each Shabbat morning there are two study groups going on simultaneously. First, our Rabbi Emeritus teaches a Torah reading/study in English. They are on a seven year cycle and go through the Torah line by line reading and studying.

                  Secondly, our Senior Rabbi teaches a Torah study in Hebrew (I attend this session). We are reading the Torah in Hebrew line by line, translating and discussing. Not sure when we will finish but a totally engaging experience.

                  Thirdly, we do Torah study during the service when the Rabbi gives a d’rash, and we participate in discussion.

                  Might not this be a way to intrigue people to come? I am sure there are all types of Torah study groups that could be going on simultaneously: Taste of Torah (an introduction), Women's Torah Study, Family Torah Study. There are unlimited possibilities.

      Barbara

      500+ families
    12. March 2007 Digest 032

                  With regard to Saturday morning worship, we have an 8:30am service that we began independent of the B’nei Mitzvah "show" about two or three years ago. We are now getting about 15 -20 adults plus kids on a regular basis. Service is led by the clergy and involves much participation by congregants in lots of ways.

                  However, we do have 450 or so families and so, while we are happy with the slowly growing numbers, we have an awful long way to go. Much is written in iWorship about the struggle with service attendance, be it Sat am or Friday night. However, I do not recall much about what I personally see as one of the major reasons--the loss of obligation to pray within the Reform Movement. Everything is supposed to be personal choice (I have wanted to ask, should we change the name to the" Ten Recommendations"?). This lack of a sense of obligation has greatly impacted the community's commitment to service attendance. I do find it somewhat ironic that many of the "regulars" in our little service grew up not in the Reform Movement but within either the Conservative or Orthodox Movements. I do think it has much to do with the sense that as Jews we have an obligation to pray and join with other Jews on Shabbat and this is something that is just so foreign to the Reform Movement.

      David
    13. March 2007 Digest 033

                  We have a once a month lay led Saturday morning worship service. It was designed to be lay led as we wanted it to be very participatory.

                  We have one gentleman who, along with this wife, helps prepare the d'var Torah remarks. We use the Gates of Prayer Saturday morning service. We have musical instruments--tambourine, triangle, etc. that we play at appropriate moments in the service. Last month we had thirteen in attendance. We encourage children to attend.

                  To me, the numbers are not important. What is important is that we open the doors to the synagogue, and people enter the sanctuary, place their tallit around their shoulders, and worship and share together as a community.

                  After the service we have a dairy pot-luck community lunch. Most everyone brings something to share to eat.

                  We started this service in October 2006 and each month our attendance increases.

      Joan

      180 +/- families
    14. April 2007 Digest 067

                  A wonderful resource, Hinei Mah-Tov: "How Good It Is..." When Communities Come Together on Shabbat Morning …documents the Shabbat morning observances at nine congregations, their process for developing those observances and the impact it has had on the spiritual life of those who attend can be accessed at: [www.urj.org/worship/resources.]

      Rabbi Sue Ann Wasserman

      Dept. of Worship, Music and Religious Living
 
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