An Update from the Temple Emanuel Worship Team

Temple Emanuel Worship Team

At every Temple Emanuel Worship Team meeting, we devote a portion of time to listening to the concerns or suggestions from congregants that have been brought to the attention of one of our team members. This feedback is vital to our committee and has helped enact many positive changes throughout the years. So we were delighted when the congregational survey and focus groups that were conducted in the spring brought to us a wealth of information about what qualities our congregants would like to see, not only in our new settled rabbi, but also in the congregation as a whole. The overarching theme of the feedback was that Temple Emanuel members want to see a more welcoming, inclusive environment for all congregants and guests. Towards that end, the Worship Team, including Rabbi Don and Rabbi Jessica, have made several changes that we hope will lead to more inclusivity.

Perhaps the most noticeable of these changes has been to our Saturday morning b’nei mitzvah services.  After talking to those in attendance at the first bat mitzvah of the school year, the feedback was very positive. Congregants and guests really enjoyed the warm and inclusive touches that just a few tweaks to the service brought about. Come to a b’nei mitzvah service soon and check them out for yourself! Here are the highlights:

  • Friday Evening
    • On Friday evening, the family will be called up for the candle lighting and the Kiddush, with parents each reading a prayer in Hebrew or English.
  • Saturday Morning
    • There will be an opportunity for an English prayer to be read by younger siblings.
    • The Torah will be symbolically passed through the generations, involving parents and grandparents, including non-Jewish parents and grandparents if they so choose.
    • As the Torah is passed from the parent(s) to the student, a parent may read a brief (250 words) address to their child.
    • The first part of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah’s D’var Torah (speech) will serve as the introduction to the Torah reading.
    • There will generally be five Aliyot in a service, the first being the “Community Aliyah” and the rest designated as “Family Aliyot” which can be shared by multiple people:
      •       Aliyah 1                       Community members
      •       Aliyah 2                       Uncles, aunts, cousins
      •       Aliyah 3                       Grandparents
      •       Aliyah 4                       Parents
      •       Aliyah 5                        Bar/Bat Mitzvah student
    • The Bar/Bat Mitzvah students will generally be reading or chanting the 4 family aliyot.
    • Each Aliyah can be shared by multiple persons. If there are few family members, friends may be called up.

Another area where we’ve made some positive changes is to the High Holiday programming.  Those changes include:

  • On both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we will only have one morning service, beginning at 10:00 a.m. The Prek-6 programming and the babysitting will take place during this service. (The family service will take place at 2:45 p.m. each day.)
  • In order to enrich the Yom Kippur afternoon and give congregants a place to continue their observance, Temple is offering several beit midrash offerings starting at 12:30.  Here is the schedule:
    • 12:30-1:15  
      • “Making Gratitude Jars” in the Art Room with Michelle Dreyfus
      • “Maimonides’ Steps to True Repentance” in the WRJ Room with Rabbi Rossoff
    • 1:30-2:15
      • “Making Gratitude Jars: in the Art Room with Michelle Dreyfus
      • “What is the Religious Action Center and Why Should I Care?” in the Community Room with Rabbi Locketz and Dave Rullo
    • 2:30-3:15
      • “Conflict Resolution for Yom Kippur and All Year” in the Community Room with Ron Richards
      • “The Torah’s Attitude of Gratitude” in the WRJ Room with Rebecca Schwartz

   We also have a couple of exciting events coming up:

  • On October 13, we will have a Havdalah Hayride at Simmons Farm.  This the first in a series of planned Havdalah programs throughout the year.  For more information, see the bulletin or website.
  • On November 2, we will host a Potluck Shabbat.  Families are asked to bring a dairy main or side.  We’ll have a wonderful family dinner before heading to services.  (More details to follow.)

We hope you are as excited about these changes and events as the Worship Team is.  As always, please reach out to any member of the team with questions, concerns, comments, or suggestions.  We are always striving to make Temple a place where we can all worship and study in a welcoming environment.