Welcome! I am Rabbi Jonathan Biatch of Madison, Wisconsin. "Pulpit Perspectives: My Observations as a Congregational Rabbi" is published every two weeks to reflect my observations about life in my congregation and with my members. The opinions expressed here are solely my own. I invite you to join the dialogue!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"Shabbat for All Generations" comes also to Saturday morning!

As you may know, our synagogue has been holding an all-musical service each month, on the third Friday night, for the last four years.  We call this special service Shabbat Midor Lador, a “Shabbat for All Generations,” with the hope that we can bring together worshipers young and old, singers and non-singers, for a joyous and rollicking Shabbat that enriches us as individuals and as a community.

Our all-volunteer band, made up of Temple Beth El members and me, leads us in song, story, and learning in a pleasurable worship service.  And this coming December 3, our “Shabbat for All Generations” comes to Saturday morning, at 10:30 AM at Temple Beth El.  We hope you can be there as well.

“Shabbat services for the community on Saturday morning?”  I hear you say.  “But we’re accustomed to come to Temple on Friday nights.  Is this a change?”

No, it’s not a change, just a one-time experiment to see if perhaps we should have services also on Saturday mornings when we don’t conduct B’nai Mitzvah.

In fact, the Friday evening communal service, usually a late one, is an invention that’s only one hundred and fifty years old, conceived and developed by the founder of Reform Judaism in America, Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise.  In those days, Jews stayed away from the synagogue on Saturday morning, but not for the reasons that you may imagine.  Here is what I mean.

Many Jews in those days were merchants and retail store workers and owners.  Many others were federal and state government employees.  Both of these groups had to work on Saturday mornings: Retail workers obviously had to be present when most of the rest of society had free time; government employees worked a six-day week.  So Rabbi Wise wanted to find a solution to the empty synagogue pews that he saw on Saturday mornings.

And the late Friday night service was born.  It was a service with the traditional Shabbat liturgy, usually not a Torah reading (at first; the Torah would still be read on Saturday morning), but did include a sermon to inspire the members.

But over the last 50 years or so, people’s responsibilities and lifestyles changed, and Saturday mornings have now been freed up from work and given over to leisure time.  So we are hoping to fill some of your leisure Shabbat time with good music, fun stories, and worshiping in community.

Please join us for a great Shabbat experience.  You’ll be glad you did.

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