Shabbat Shalom: Guide to Our Sabbath Services

We welcome you to Temple Ahavat Shalom and are delighted that you are able to join us. This brochure serves as a guide to our Shabbat and Bar/Bat Mitzvah Services Friday evening and Saturday morning Shabbat and the associated ceremonies and rituals. Please feel at home at Temple Ahavat Shalom. Do not hesitate to introduce yourself to our Rabbi, President or other congregational representatives. We are happy to answer any questions you may have and to be of assistance to you. Prayer booklets are located in the pews. Please enhance our service by joining us in prayer.

Customs / Ceremonies
We would like to introduce you to some of our customs and rituals.

A kipah is the head covering worn in the synagogue as a sign of reverence to God. If you choose to wear a kipah, they can be found next to the lobby table at the entrance to the sanctuary. A tallit is the prayer shawl that is worn by both men and women. It is adorned on it’s four corners with tzitzit (special fringes). Wearing a tallit is a religious commandment applicable only to adult Jewish men, however, it is now worn by many women as well. Many Bar/Bat Mitzvah students receive their tallit at their Coming of Age Ceremony.

We are proud of the beauty and symbolism in the decor of our Sanctuary. The Sanctuary is situated so that the congregation faces east, toward Jerusalem. In the center of the Bima –altar, on the Eastern Wall, is the Aron Kodesh (Holy Ark). This special enclosure houses Torah Scrolls, one or more of which will be removed and studied during the Saturday morning Torah Service and on special Jewish holidays. A Torah Scroll contains the first part of the Hebrew Bible, the Five Books of Moses.
Each Torah Scroll is hand-written on parchment by a specially trained scribe in an ornate Hebrew script that contains no punctuation or vowels. The reader must commit to memory the vowels as well as the prescribed melody for the chanting.

The Ner Tamid (Eternal Light) hangs above and in front of the Ark. It burns constantly as a reminder of God’s eternal presence.

The Siddur (prayer book—blue), meaning “order”, is found at each seat. The prayer book contains the Sabbath Services in both English and Hebrew, the language of the Jewish people. Translations of the prayers and recitations appear in the prayer book so that all may follow along.

Shabbat Evening Services

Kabbalat Shabbat

This Service, “welcoming the Sabbath”, was introduced by the Kabbalists to usher in the Shabbat, regarded as a queen or bride that brought majesty into their midst. It begins with traditional songs followed by the song Lechah Didi, sung by the Cantor to greet the incoming bride—for the last verse, the congregation rises, faces the main doors of the Sanctuary, and bows to acknowledge the entrance of the Shabbat.

Ma’ariv

The evening Service includes the recitation of the Shema and an Amidah (see Shacharit Service section below). On Shabbat, the Kiddush (sanctification of the Shabbat over wine) is recited in the synagogue—the “young people” join the Rabbi and Cantor on the Bima for the Hamotz—Blessing for Bread (Challah). Rabbi Klein shares a sermon, lesson or thought with the congregation.

Service

Our prayer book is divided into Shabbat Evening and Shabbat morning services as well as those for special Holidays and occasions.

Oneg Shabbat

Welcoming congregants and guests at a reception following services. The social hall is where the Rabbi and Cantor welcome visitors and congregants.

Shabbat Morning Service

The readings begin with Blessings that celebrate the renewal of life.

Birkhot Hashachar & Pesukei De-Zimra

These preliminary Services begin with the blessing that celebrates the renewal of life and the covenant with God. The text is taken primarily from the Book of Psalms.

Shacharit Service

The theme of this portion of the Service is one of thanksgiving and extolling the perfection of God. Judaism’s central prayer, the Shema, proclaims the uniqueness and oneness of God and embodies the origins of monotheism:”Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.” - is not a prayer, but is the central declaration of faith of the Jewish people. The Amidah (standing, silent prayer) is a series of blessings; the first three are of praise to God, the middle one declares the Sabbath as a fundamental aspect of Judaism, and the final three are of Thanksgiving and peace.

Torah Service

A Torah Scroll is carried in a procession, around the congregation, starting from the Ark and returning to the reading table on which it is placed and unrolled. Congregants may touch and kiss the Torah Scroll as a sing of reverence. Each Torah Scroll is parchment wound onto two wooden rollers and is adorned with a decorative cover, a breastplate, a yad (pointer) and a crown.

Temple Celebrations

When one is called to the Torah, it is called an aliyah. This is an honor and privilege in the Jewish faith. Several significant joyous life-cycle events may be celebrated. These include Bar/Bat Mitzvah, and Auf Ruf (blessing of the groom), or a baby-naming. Each includes being called to the Torah.

The Bar/Bat Mitzvah

(literally “son/daughter of the commandment”) leads the song in prayer and delivers a D’var Torah (torah lesson). The Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony is celebrated as part of a Service when the Torah is taken from the Ark and read. The significance of becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah is that the child is now eligible to fulfill the commandments as a Jewish adult.

Baby Naming-A baby naming for both boys and girls. At this time, the child is given it’s Hebrew name. (By contrast, a boy is named at the brit milah, the circumcision.) The parents are called to the Torah. A brief ceremony proclaims the baby’s Hebrew name and bestows blessings upon the child and parents.

On Shabbat, the honor of aliyah, (being called up to the Torah) is given to seven individuals in succession. Each one chants a blessing before and after a portion of the Torah is read. The honors of opening of the Ark, ailyot is given to celebrants, family, friends and teachers. Those standing on each side of the Torah reader assure the accuracy of the reading. This attention to detail has allowed the virtually unaltered transmission of the Torah text over thousands of years. At the conclusion of the reading, the Torah Scroll is raised for all to see. It is then redraped and its ornamentation replaced.

Following the Torah reading, the Haftorah is chanted. It is a lesson from the Prophets or Writings that is related to the Torah portion. It adds to the understanding of the common theme in both.

After several closing prayers and blessings, the Torah Service continues with another procession that concludes with the Torah Scroll being placed back into the Ark.

Musaf Service

Musaf is an additional Service that includes prayers giving thanks to God for His beautiful gift of the Shabbat.

Near the end of the Service is the morning’s last recitation of the Mourner’s Kaddish for those who have lost a close relative within the last year of those who are remembering the anniversary of the death of a close relative. Only those reciting the Kaddish stand for this prayer. The Kaddish contains no reference to death, but rather it is a hymn to the greatness of God and an affirmation of life.

Shabbat Times

Blessings

Blessing the Children
To bless a boy, a girl, or both.

Blessings for Life's Moments
For a festive occasion, washing hands, eating bread, and lighting a memorial candle.

Morning and Bedtime Rituals for Children
Blessings for children to say upon waking, before eating, and before going to bed.

Shabbat Blessings
For candles, wine, and bread.

Holiday Information

*Calendar of the Jewish Holidays

Children's Books for Purim
Two great selections to share with your kids.

Listening to the Story of Purim
We often think of Purim with its costumes and noisemakers as a children's holiday. But its themes and ideas are of great importance to Jewish life. In fact, our tradition tells us that we are to drop whatever we are doing, no matter its importance, to go and listen to the story of Purim.

Recipes for Purim
Sugar cookies, Purim Punch, and of course... Hamantashen!

Turning Injustice Onto Its Head: A Social Action Guide for Purim
For individuals, families, youth groups, religious schools and congregations: ideas and resources for social action activities to help deepen your celebration of the holiday.