Months ago, I sat with members of Temple Israel, LJCRS, and many committees and we built a rough outline of a yearly calendar of events for our synagogue. I was incredibly impressed and humbled by everyone’s support for my ideas, and for the new programs and evolution I wished to bring to our congregation. It’s amazing to think that this was almost six months ago. Where does the time go? It’s been an incredible journey for me as a rabbi, bringing in my favorite aspects of Judaism to teach, and hearing the feedback and growth from so many of you as you sat in my classes, or sang new songs in the sanctuary. With a new rabbi and spiritual leader comes change, and with change comes excitement but also anxiety, a disruption of what was, what I like to call “productive discomfort.” And we’ve been quite productive, haven’t we? Transforming Friday evening services to a full Kabbalat Shabbat, moving Torah to its traditional place in the rubric of Saturday morning Shacharit, learning new ways to chant and say prayers. Over these past six months, I’ve seen how Temple Israel is so resilient, so open-minded, so fluid in its growth, and I’m grateful to be here each day.
I bring up the calendar meeting because it was at that gathering back in July that we decided starting January 1, Shabbat services would look different at Temple Israel. Instead of featuring one Saturday morning Shacharit service and three Friday evenings, we would be moving to two Friday evenings, and two Saturday morning services per month. And now, that time has come. Beginning in January 2018, the first and third weekend of each month will have Friday night Kabbalat Shabbat services, at 7:30pm, and the second and fourth weekend of each month will have a Saturday morning Shacharit and Torah service at 10:00am. This will give our members more exposure to the Shacharit service liturgy, and more Torah throughout each month.
With that change, comes another. Tot Shabbat, our monthly service for our children under 8 and their families, will be moving from Friday evening to Saturday morning. At 9:00am on the second weekend of the month, we will feature a kid-friendly “Munchkin Minyan” in the sanctuary from 9:00am until 9:30am. The service will look much like it has for the last six months, but will also incorporate story-telling, activities, and other surprises as they relate to the Torah portion that week. Then, at 9:30am, the young families can join the rest of the congregation for the traditional Bagel Brunch in the multi-purpose room, and, if they so wish, stay for some or all of the 10:00am Shacharit service. This change accomplishes a few things. For one, it allows for various generations of our Temple to enjoy some sweet time together during the Bagel Brunch. Second, it keeps each Friday night here at Temple Israel at the same time, 7:30pm, no matter when it occurs. Third, it allows children with earlier bedtimes and parents with long days on Fridays to rest and wake up to an early morning Shabbat on Saturday. What a wonderful way to start the weekend!
Our Simchat Shabbat, the Shabbat service that features blessings at the ark for those celebrating birthdays and anniversaries in that month, will still occur on the third weekend of every month, Friday night at 7:30pm (a change from 6:30pm). With more Saturday morning services occurring at Temple Israel, we hope that we will see more and more of you work towards placement into the Yad Squad by volunteering to read Torah, chant the Aliyot blessings, lift or dress the Torah, or read our Haftarah.
We will be sure to highlight these changes in the coming Thursday reminders, and post our service times on the door to keep you informed. It is my hope that with these changes come a more streamlined month for all of you, with parents and young families enjoying early morning worship, with all enjoying more Torah readings, and with consistent Friday evening services. Again, I am grateful for Temple Israel’s trust and willingness to grow with the changes and evolution of the Reform Movement. Wishing you a happy new year and looking forward to beginning 2018 with all of you with fun new aspects in temple life!