One of the wonderful developments I have seen at B’nai Israel is the increasing interest and participation in the Shabbat morning service experience.
More often than not we have a minyan (a quorum of 10 or more Jewish adults). The energy is always high among the participants and one unintended secret is that we usually enjoy a lovely Kiddush following the service thanks to the generous and even imaginative contributions that attendees bring.
You don’t want to miss the baking delights that member Janice R. creates and shares. One couple, when they attend often go out of their way, literally, to bring special pastry treats from bakeries located all over the Bay Area… sometimes Berkeley, other times Larkspur…and so on. And, those are just 2 examples of what folks bring to make time after the service a delicious part of the day. Indeed, gastronomic Judaism is alive and well at CBI and a bonus to enjoy after our spirited 2 hour service.
We treat Shabbat morning as a learning service while the numbers are modest enough to encourage creativity and informality.
And, now members have an opportunity to learn to lead or co-lead any parts of the service they would like with the availability of a CD of the service that I made a few weeks ago. The goal is to generate increasing membership involvement in leading services. One special treat is Laura E’s continued growth in doing the Torah laning (chanting from the scroll in Hebrew). She is among those that are using one of the new CDs to become more comfortable in leading different facets of the service.
So, Shabbat morning is quite a happening event at CBI even on those Shabbatot that are lay led.
Ironically, Shabbat evening is not doing as well in attendance. We used to have no difficulties with a minyan at the Friday evening service but that is no longer the case. It is frustrating when we fall short because there are often occasions that a member or visitor attends specifically to be able to say Kaddish for a loved one. We cannot do that without the minyan, and that is disappointing.
I have mixed feelings about not having the minyan Shabbat evening in that I am proud of the group for seeing that as a rule we do have the Shabbat morning quorum since that service in Jewish tradition is the “main event”. Nevertheless, it would be lovely and helpful if CBI members that either used to come on Friday evenings on occasion or others that haven’t yet done so would choose a Friday once a month, if not more, to make it a point to attend. In fact, one very special opportunity for families with young children is to attend the usually monthly children’s service at the end of each month at 7 PM, led by the Gewings and company i.e. the kids.
As is true on Shabbat mornings, the Oneg, after service refreshments, usually includes some nice taste treats that folks bring. It is a nice topping to a wonderful experience of friendship and camaraderie that makes the Shabbat evening experience enjoyable in its own way as is the case with Shabbat morning.
Meanwhile, mark Saturday, May 17 on your calendar as a special Shabbat morning when our children will participate and demonstrate how, on Sunday mornings, as part of Sunday school, they use gestures, usually created by them, in doing especially prayers done in the earlier part of the service. The gestures help remind them what the prayers mean and also serve to demonstrate how Hebrew is a visual language, conducive to such “body language” in ways that English is not.
I look forward to more CBI members restoring Shabbat prayer life to their schedules and rejoining members and friends for what is quite a happening place at B’nai Israel on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings.
And, let me know if you would like a CD of the Shabbat service to use either to become more familiar and comfortable with the services or to take the next step and use as a training tool to learn to lead a service and enjoy that experience as well.