Rodef Sholom: A Reform Jewish Congregation in Marin County, California

explanation of prayers and shabbat services Print E-mail
Service Explanation

There are five sections in both Friday night and Saturday morning Shabbat services. The order of the service is the same for both evening and morning services with only a few variances.


Section 1. Introductory Prayers: In the opening part of the service you will find warm-up songs such as: Hinei Mah Tov, Mah Tovu, Shabbat Shalom, and Oseh Shalom. Psalms are also read and sung during this section of the service.

Section 2. Shema and its Blessings: This section of the service teaches us what Jews believe. We recognize and bless God as Creator, Revealer of Torah, and Redeemer.

·Barchu: The Call to Worship
The service officially begins with the chanting of Barchu. This is a "call and response" prayer. It is during this prayer that we may ask ourselves-What distracts me and keeps me from being completely present for prayer? How might I remove these distractions?

·Ma'ariv Aravim: The One who Brings on Evening
Ma'ariv Aravim is the Evening Prayer in which we thank God for bringing evening upon us each day.

·Yotzer: Creator
Yotzer is the Morning Prayer for creation of light and darkness. In saying this prayer we affirm that God creates and re-creates the world every day.

·Shema Yisrael: Hear O' Israel
The Shema is an affirmation of Judaism and a declaration of faith in one God. The Shema is considered so important that we are obligated to recite this prayer twice daily.

·V'ahavta: You Shall Love
This prayer informs us that knowing there is only one God is not enough. We must show our love for God through our actions. We ask ourselves, what does it mean to love God "with all my heart?"

·Ge'ulah: Redemption
This prayer recalls the Israelites' exodus from Egypt and thanks God for helping us survive other tough times in our personal life. Ge'ulah concludes with the Mi Chamocha.

·Mi Chamocha: "Who is like you, among the gods, Adonai?"
Moses and the Israelites sang this at the shores of the Red Sea. We sing this song today as we call to mind the Israelite slaves' journey through the parted sea on their path toward freedom.

Section 3. Amidah: Standing Prayers

The Amidah is said standing, facing east, towards Jerusalem. It is a central section of our liturgy and evokes what we all need: to be linked to our ancestors, to feel part of God's holiness, to give thanks, and to find peace. On Shabbat we say seven blessings, while on the weekdays we recite nineteen.

·Avot: Ancestors
This prayer helps link us to our ancestors. We pray to God as we remember all the generations of Jewish people connected to God through the covenant we established on Mount Sinai.

·Gevurot: Might
We pray to God as the "One Who Gives Life to All." In this prayer, we recognize that we have souls that endow us with eternal worth and everlasting hope.

·Kedusha: Sanctification
This prayer affirms that God is God of the entire Jewish people. We declare, "Holy, holy holy is the Lord of Hosts. The whole earth is full of God's glory."

·Yismechu: They Shall Rejoice
We sanctify the Sabbath day and rejoice in one another's happiness through singing Yishmechu.

·Avodah: Worship
In this prayer we recall our ancient history in which we offered sacrifices in the ancient Temple of Jerusalem. We remember that although we no longer have a Temple, every Jewish home is a miniature sanctuary in which our every day life can be transformed into the sacred.

·Hoda'ah: Thanksgiving
In this prayer we remember to be thankful for what we have. We give thanks for all that we possess now, for all that we might have in the future, and for the ability to give thanks.

·Birkat Shalom: The Blessing of Peace
Through this prayer we call an end to violence, war, and bloodshed. We ask ourselves- what am I doing to bring shalom (peace, fulfillment, and completeness) into this world? We conclude the Amidah with a song for peace, Shalom Rav sung in the evening and Sim Shalom in the morning.

Section 4. The Torah Service: The centerpiece of the Shabbat morning is the reading of Torah and a text from the Prophets (Haftarah).

·Torah: The Five Books of Moses
The Torah is a link with Jewish history and with Jews throughout the world, who will read the same Torah portion on that day.

·Passing Down the Torah
Here at Rodef Sholom we participate in the tradition of handing down the Torah from one generation to the next. Those who are responsible for having transmitted the knowledge and love of Torah to the Bar or Bat Mitzvah are given this honor. The Torah scroll is physically passed from grandparents to parents to the Bar or Bat Mitzvah.

·Aliyah: Reciting Torah blessings
Being called up to the Torah for an aliyah is a significant honor during the Bar or Bat Mitzvah ceremony. The tradition at Rodef Sholom is to have three aliyot (the plural of aliyah) designated for family members and close friends, while the fourth aliyah is given to the Bar or Bat Mitzvah.

·Haftarah: Reading from the Prophets
The Haftarah reading is usually linked thematically to the Torah portion of the week. Following the Torah reading, the Haftarah, a selection from the prophets, will be chanted, along with the blessings that precede and follow the reading.

·D'var Torah: Speech on the weekly Torah portion
The Bar or Bat Mitzvah will deliver a D'var Torah which teaches about some element of Jewish history, value or practice, and applies the lesson to our lives today. This ability to study and teach Torah or Haftarah is a mark of maturity, and is an honor accorded those who have attained the age of religious responsibility in the Jewish community.

·Misheberach: Prayer for Healing
The Misheberach is a prayer in which we ask for healing and a speedy recovery to those that suffer from illness of body, mind, or spirit. We invite members of our community to say the names aloud of those that need healing in order for the entire community to pray for their well-being.

Section 5. Concluding Prayers:

·Aleinu: God is Upon Us
This prayer repeats the major themes of the entire service: the theme of creation, revelation, and redemption.

·Kaddish: Mourner's Prayer
We honor the memory of those who have died. The Kaddish does not mention death, but praises God and acknowledges the precious gift of life.

·Kiddush and Motzi: Blessings Over Wine and Challah
These two blessings we recite on the bima to express our joy for Shabbat and to thank God for creating the fruit of the vine and bringing forth bread from the earth.



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accessiblecongragationslogoThrough the efforts of our Kulanu/ Inclusion of Those with Disabilities Committee, Rodef Sholom has been acknowleded as an accessible congregation by the National Organization on Disability.