This coming Shabbat we, at Temple Israel, will be adding two innovations to our programming. This Friday evening, December 1st, we will be hosting our first monthly Learner’s Minyan from 7:00pm-7:25pm. Learner’s Minyan is a short learning session that focuses on one prayer in our liturgy. So many of us come to Shabbat services week after week with only have a skeletal understanding of the liturgical rubrics, the prayers and blessings, and the history behind them. Learner’s Minyan is an opportunity to expand that understanding. As many of you know, as a rabbi I place a great deal of importance on congregants knowing what they’re saying and why they’re saying it when in worship services. Judaism is a religion of scholars, those who study, read, write, and comment, following in the footsteps of those that have come before us for thousands of years. The most unproductive reason a Jew can give as to why they say a prayer is, “I don’t know, that’s just what I was taught to do.” In this day and age, when such incredible amounts of information, correct and incorrect, are so easily accessible, I think it especially important that our congregants are informed as to the history of the prayers in our worship service, the traditions surrounding it, and the evolution of that prayer throughout the centuries and through denominations.
So, each month, on the first Friday of every month, I will be choosing prayers and blessings within our Friday night and Saturday morning services and taking them apart, showing you their insides, their origins, their complexities. I will also offer a tutorial on the proper way the prayer is to be recited in 21st-century contemporary Reform Judaism: how are they said, chanted, or sung, and what is the choreography surrounding them.
Differing generations and differing denominations within Judaism have split our congregation into performing prayers through different lenses, which can lead to confusion and inconsistency within our pews. Learner’s Minyan, on the other hand, is an opportunity to do away with that confusion and empower you all to know exactly when to stand for prayers, when to sit, when to bow or not bow, when to speak and when to respond, all with the confidence knowing why you are doing what you are doing and enabling us all to worship as a cohesive holy community.
If you’ve ever been to an Orthodox Shabbat service in Israel, you will have seen how streamlined the service is, how comfortable everyone feels, and how the group moves as one group all doing the same thing and knowing why. This is for no other reason than the level of liturgical education these Jews have been given, and it’s the gift I wish to give to this congregation as well. The first Learner’s Minyan will take place this Friday evening, and will cover the Kaddish prayer: what is its function, who says what, who stands, who sits, when is it chanted, when is it said and why. After Learner’s Minyan, we will all take 5 minutes to breath in this new information and the coming Sabbath and we will begin our Kabbalat Shabbat service at 7:30pm.
The second innovation is that this Friday evening we will be beginning the long-awaited livestream worship services. For those of you who have kept up with our Facebook page, you will have seen that we began livestreaming the Adult Education sessions on Sunday. If you are unable to make it to class, you can login to our Facebook page, and watch the class live, or watch it at your convenience as it is recorded. When I started at Temple Israel, I was told there are many of our congregants and friends that would like to attend our Shabbat services, but cannot, for various reasons. Starting this Friday, most of our services each month will be available via livestream on Facebook Live, so that you can join us in worship wherever you are. All you have to do is go to Facebook.com/Templeisraelwlaf and you will see the videos available to watch. You will have to create a Facebook account in order to view the page, but it is free, and easy to do so! You’re also able to “like” and “follow” the Temple Israel Facebook page which will keep you up to date on activities at the Temple, as well as give you access to sermons, newsletters, education videos, and more! Please contact me or Beca if you have any questions as to how to set up a Facebook account or access our livestream services. We will be happy to assist you!
We hope that this Friday evening we will see so many of you for Learner’s Minyan and for Kabbalat Shabbat; and if you’re unable to be there in person, we hope you will log on and join us via livestream!