Shabbat Worship Introduction

The opening or beginning of Sabbath occurs at sundown on Friday night. This ritual is called “Erev Shabbat”, (the Eve of the Sabbath) or can also be referred to as “Kabblat Shabbat” (or “Welcoming the Sabbath”). The service consists of the lighting of candles which, though traditionally done by a woman, may be done by a man, followed by the singing of songs, or psalms to set the mood for the prayers that follows. This service can be performed at home around the table with friends and family, or together in a synagogue. It is typically performed around the evening meal.  Traditional songs may include L’Cha Dodi or Shalom Aleichem. Other songs may be substituted. Wordless melodies (nigunim, singular, nigun) may be sung. Readings may be taken from a prayer book (i.e. “Siddur”). They may be read by the leader, by individuals in the congregation, by the congregation as a whole or in any way the leader decides. The signal that this part of the service is concluding is the recitation of the Hatzi Kaddish (Reader’s Kaddish). This prayer may have originated during Second Temple times, i.e., before 70 CE. It serves to separate sections of the service.

On Saturday mornings our worship begins with lively songs lead by our worship director and a team of musicians. This initial service is simply called “Praise & Worship” it is a time to rejoice before the Lord. Many participants will clap their hands and some even dance together in choreographed traditional Jewish dance steps. (Dance classes are often provided). Others prefer to remain standing and clap along to the music or some prefer to close their eye and adore God with raised hands. This is Biblical:

Jewish liturgical worship

After Praise & Worship, we usually slow down into some prayers of intercessions for those who are ill or suffering or in need. This is followed by a short time of announcements and receiving of offerings.  In a traditional Shabbat morning service, we move into the Torah Service after the Shema or sometimes begin the Amidah.

Since the beginning of Jewish tradition, the Sh’ma had been considered the most important statement of a Jew’s belief in God. It was spoken daily in prayers at the Temple, and the rabbis included it in morning and evening service of the synagogue. The Sh’ma is taken from Deuteronomy 6:4: “Hear O Israel: The Eternal One is our God!” and its response is: “Blessed is God’s glorious majesty forever and ever!” It is customary to face east towards the city of Jerusalem whenever reciting the Shema and often Jews will cover their eyes with their hands to focus and concentrate on the prayer without distraction. The next reading or chanting is the V’ahavta, (“You shall love the Lord your God…”) recited in unison by the congregation in Hebrew and in English. The Amidah is considered the heart of Jewish worship. Jewish prayer makes room for both our personal meditations and the prayers we recite as a community. The word Amidah means “standing” and it describes the way in which its prayers are recited. Another name for this portion of the service is T’filah, or prayer. The prayers begin with Avot v’imahot (Fathers /Ancestors) and G’vurot (God’s Power) and continue with K’dushah (Holiness, including the holiness of Shabbat). Avodah (Service, or being of Service), Modim (Thanks), and conclude with a song of peace, e.g. Shalom Rav or Sim Shalom. 

torah service

For Jews, the Torah, the Five Books of Moses is the holiest of all sacred objects. It is handwritten with no vowels, punctuation or notes by a highly skilled scribe on kosher animal skin and sewn together on a scroll many yards long whose ends are wound on two wooden staves. We call the Torah a “Tree of Life”. It is the story of the Jewish people and also contains laws by which Jews have been guided for millennia.

The Torah teaches us the values of truth, justice and peace, and has served as a touchstone for Jews throughout the ages. For this reason it holds a central place in the Jewish tradition.

The Torah is divided into 54 weekly sections (parashot) so that, in a year, the entire Torah is read from the beginning of Genesis to the end of Deuteronomy. Each week a parasha or a portion of a parasha is read.

The Torah service starts with the ritual of opening the ark and removing the Torah. This may be followed by a procession around the sanctuary where congregants greet the Torah joyfully with song and kiss the books or prayer shawls with which they have touched it. The procession is called Hakafah, "going around the room", where the Torah is being accepted into the community just the way it might have been received when it first came down from Sinai.

The "aliyah"

An individual or a group of people who are honored by being called to say the blessings (usually in Hebrew) before and after one of the readings from the torah are said to receive an aliyah. It literally means "one who ascends", referring both to the physical act of walking up to the bimah (raised platform) where the Torah will be read and to Moses’ ascent to Mount Sinai where he received the Torah. It is just as much an honor to witness the blessings by standing with the person or group of people doing the reciting as it is to say them. Our community is committed to support interfaith families raising their children as Messianic Believers, as well as God Fearers from the nations who've been "Grafted-In" to the Covenant by Faith. At the Bat/Bar Mitzvah service, and at other opportunities throughout the year, a non­-Jew who has participated in this Messianic Jewish community  could say, with complete integrity and authenticity, that his/her family is included among the “us” to whom the Torah was given.  (see Eph. 2:11-22)  A member of the congregation, one becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a rabbi, or Cantor may do the reading. It may be read or chanted in Hebrew, English, or both.  At the conclusion of the Torah reading someone is given the honor of raising the Torah (called Hagbah in Hebrew). It is held high, open to the portion just read, to let the congregation see the writing within it. That person is called Gabbai, the person who raises the Torah. Someone is also invited assist the carrying of the Torah. That person is called Shammas. The Torah is wrapped and dressed until after the Haftarah (Prophets) and/or the reading of the Brit Chadasha (New Covenant), and a “D’rash” (lesson/message from the reader).  After the reader (Aliyah) gives his d’rash, the rabbi and elders will pronounce a blessing over the Aliyah and then he/she is dismissed to retake their seat in the congregation.

"D'rash" - The Sermon

Following the Mishebeirach, Rabbi Eric will typically deliver a sermon or a D’var Torah (word from Torah) to the congregation.  Messianic Jewish sermons are similar to the traditional rabbinic style in that it usually begins with the lesson from the liturgical calandar (Parasha of the Week); however it is unique and distinct, in that Messianic Jewish teaching always connects the covenants of Moses and the Prophets to the New Covenant (Brit Chadasha); and finally the D'rash is meant to stimulate and encourage the congregation, not just to be a spectator, but the message is driven to practical application, answering the question...

 "How does this Apply to My Life Today"? 

concluding prayers

We conclude the Torah service by returning the Torah Scroll to the Aron Hakodesh (Ark), and recite the Etz Chaim, and also we recite the mourner's Kaddish, for those remembering a Yahrzeit.  When there is an Oneg we conclude with the Kiddush & Hamotzi prayers, and we always conclude each service with the Aaronic Blessing:

May the Lord bless you and keep you; may the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you.  The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.  

יְבָרֶכְךָ יְהוָה, וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ.  

יָאֵר יְהוָה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וִיחֻנֶּךָּ.  

יִשָּׂא יְהוָה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם.  


Format for a Typical Shabbat Morning Service

Pre-service warm up worship music (10:15-10:30 a.m.)

Praise & Worship with Shofar blast. (10:30-10:55)

Short Prayer, Announcements and Blessing over the Offering. (11:00-11:10)

Torah Service beginning with Barchu/Shema. Ending with the Mishebeirach. (11:10-11:30)

Rabbi’s Sermon (11:30 – 4:00 P.M.!!!) “Just kidding” … (11:30 – 12:00)

Etz Chaim & Mourner’s Kaddish, Aaronic Blessing (ending approximately 12:10-12:15)