You are always welcome

Shavua tov / a good week to you!

This is a special week; this coming weekend we’ll be celebrating as one of the young ladies of our congregation becomes bat mitzvah.

Some of you have mentioned to me recently that you’re never sure whether you’re welcome at our b’nei mitzvah celebrations, especially when we have a Shabbat afternoon/evening bat mitzvah celebration, since that is a time when we do not usually gather at CBI. I am writing today to assure you that you are always welcome and your presence is always desired.

Our services are always open to the community, and we welcome all of our community members to come and daven (pray) with us every Shabbat — especially on these special days when we celebrate our young people coming of age. That’s true whether we’re meeting at our usual Shabbat morning hour of 9:30am, or at 5pm for mincha, maariv and havdalah.

Celebrations of b’nei mitzvah usually take place at a time when Torah is read. In Jewish tradition, Torah is read on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings — and also on Shabbat afternoons, during the afternoon service known as mincha, which means “offering.”¬† (It’s named after the afternoon offering we used to make at the Temple in Jerusalem.)

Some of our families choose to mark b’nei mitzvah by having their children called to the Torah on Shabbat morning. Others choose to mark this moment by having their children called to the Torah on Shabbat afternoon. As it happens, of our two bat mitzvah celebrations this summer, one family chose morning and one family chose afternoon — so our community will get to experience both.

Most of us are familiar with Shabbat morning prayer, but may be less familiar with the experience of sanctifying Shabbat afternoon as it slides toward evening. Shabbat afternoon is a special time with a special ta’am or spiritual flavor. Coming together as Shabbat afternoon begins to give way to evening feels different from coming together on Shabbat morning. These final hours of Shabbat are extra-sweet because we know that Shabbat will soon be ending. One tradition holds that God is nearest to us as Shabbat mincha-time gives way to evening.

I hope that you will join us for both of our celebrations of bat mitzvah this summer — this weekend at 5pm; and Saturday July 11 at 9:30am — to experience these two different moments of Shabbat time and these two different flavors of community prayer, and to celebrate Rose and Molly as they take their place as engaged, participatory Jews in our community.

Blessings to all,

Rabbi Rachel

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