In the time since I became the rabbi here at CBI, we have not held Friday night Shabbat services. We relinquished our kabbalat Shabbat (“welcoming Shabbat”) service because attendance had been quite low on Friday evenings. (We have always had a small but dedicated core group of Shabbat morning regulars.) Many of you have told me that you miss Friday nights. Rejoice with me: this week we’ll celebrate Shabbat both on Friday evening and on Saturday morning at CBI!
This Friday, December 20, we’ll begin at 5:30pm with a vegetarian / dairy Shabbat potluck dinner. We’ll make blessings over candles, wine, bread, and our children; we’ll feast and enjoy fellowship at the Shabbat table.
At 6:30pm, we’ll move into the sanctuary for Kabbalat Shabbat, the service of welcoming the Sabbath bride into our midst with psalms, songs, prayers, and joy. Kabbalat Shabbat services usually last about an hour (the first half is technically the Kabbalat Shabbat part; the second half is ma’ariv, daily evening prayer.) Some of the words and melodies are the same as on Shabbat morning, but many are special to Friday nights alone.
We’ll sing “Lecha Dodi” (“Come, my beloved, to welcome the bride” — the Shabbat bride, the Shekhinah, the divine Presence which graces us each Friday night), we’ll sing songs and psalms which are unique to Friday night services, and we’ll celebrate the beginning of Shabbat, our opportunity for relaxing and rejoicing, which our sages said (when celebrated wholly) is a foretaste of the world to come.
And then, of course, on Shabbat morning — Saturday, December 21 — we’ll gather at 9:30am for Shabbat morning services as always. That service lasts an hour and a half, and features songs and psalms of praise, morning prayers of thanksgiving and awe, and a reading from Torah. This week we’re entering into a new book of Torah: Shemot, known in English as the book of Exodus. At 11 we’ll adjourn to the social hall for kiddush, and then those who are so inclined will gather in the library for Torah study.
December 20th or 21st (depending on who you ask) is the longest night of the year. This Shabbat will be our turning-point, our hinge, between the darkening days and the gradual return of warmth and light. Join us and bring more light into your life — and into the lives of everyone here at CBI who will be enriched by your presence and by our coming-together in community!
Blessings to all,
ps: Ne’arim parents, if you are still seeking Shabbat services to attend in order to fulfill your child’s obligations for the month, either the evening or the morning service “counts.”