The Shabbat Project

Shabbat Project Schedule

What is the most important Jewish holiday? People will frequently answer Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur or even Passover. But the most important Jewish holiday is actually the one that is also the most frequent, Shabbat. Every week, no matter what is happening in our lives, Shabbat dependably arrives on Friday night whether or not we are ready for it or whether or not we stop to notice. The Jewish author Ahad Ha’am wrote: “More than Jews have kept the Shabbat, Shabbat has kept the Jews”. Celebrating Shabbat is a key to living a more connected Jewish life. For the past few months the Religious Living Committee has been discussing many ideas to enhance our Shabbat experiences at Etz Hayim. This month, I am excited to tell you about some of our initiatives. Schedule


TGIS is a new program that we will be starting in February. TGIS is a full evening of food and worship with something for everyone. We will welcome Shabbat with a 6:00 pm half-hour family service followed by a pot luck dinner and oneg. At 7:30 we will have an abbreviated Shabbat service using our regular siddur. We will light the Shabbat candles before we sit down for dinner so please feel welcome to bring your own candles to light at the table. Whether you come early and stay for dinner or come for dinner and stay later for services, we hope that everyone will enjoy the evening. A 7:15 Family Shabbat Service will be held on the first Friday of the month.


In ancient times, the Torah was read at times when the most number of people could gather

together. Monday and Thursday were market days so there would be a public reading of Torah. (Of course Torah was also read every Shabbat morning). In our community we gather most often for Friday night services, so why not read Torah then? This will not take the place of a Saturday morning Torah service, rather, it will give us an extra opportunity to rejoice with the Torah. Twilight Torah services will be held the second Friday night of the month.


Two Shabbat morning services have been added to the schedule. During these services we will have an opportunity not only to pray together but to learn more about the prayers and the structure of the service. While these services will be especially helpful for those who feel less comfortable with the liturgy, they are also appropriate for the more experienced worshipper. These initiatives are only the beginning of our discussions about how we can make Shabbat more meaningful and relevant for our lives, both in our synagogue and in our homes. Please talk to me, or to any member of the Religious Living Committee. Let us know what you think and give us your ideas to enhance our Shabbat experiences.


As the saying goes, “God loves stories” and so do we. Not all stories are from books.

Our congregants have a wide range of fascinating professional and personal stories to tell. In this occasional series we have asked a few congregants to talk about the ways in which Judaism interacts with their lives outside of the synagogue. In March, Miriam Gitterman will take about her recent mission to Haiti with American Jewish World Service. This spring we will also hear from a congregant who worked for many years in the FBI.