We celebrate Shabbat every Friday night with a joyous service at about 7 p.m. which runs to about 8:15 p.m., followed by an Oneg. Our Shabbat services are led by Rabbi Dana Evan Kaplan and Cantor Baruch Koritan. Most of the prayers we read are in English so a worshiper with minimal Hebrew should be able to participate actively. Many of the prayers that are sung are in Hebrew and our prayer book provides transliterations of 100% of them. The services are snappy and upbeat. We want to pray to God with reverence and sincerity but we also want to mix in a little bit of levity and humor.
We read the Torah every Friday night. Sometimes the rabbi reads a short excerpt and simultaneously translates it into English, while at other times he attempts to chant and summarizes the biblical story after finishing. We have a Torah processional preceding the reading and the rabbi likes to give one of our two smaller Torahs to children to carry around the sanctuary.
The rabbi speaks extemporaneously from notes rather than reading from a prepared text. He likes to come down from the bimah to better communicate and interact with all of us in the pews. Sometimes he engages us extensively in discussion and other times he delivers remarks stressing a particular point about Judaism and connecting it to the contemporary world.
We sing Debbie Friedman’s Misheberach song every Friday night as part of our regular prayers for healing. Some of us may believe God can heal us and others may believe that marshaling the combined spiritual power of many people can create miracles. Either way, we want to focus our thoughts and bring forth our emotions in a determined effort to bring healing and wholeness to our friends and family, our community and nation, and ourselves as well.