Ahad Ha’am, one of the founders of cultural Zionism, famously declared: “More than the Jews have kept Shabbat, Shabbat has kept the Jewish people.” This statement rings just as true now as when Ahad Ha’am made the statement.
Shabbat has the ability to transform our lives, if we allow it to. The twenty-five hours of Shabbat can be a palace in time, as described by the famous Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. It can be a time to press pause on the week gone by and take time to be with family and community and reflect on the myriad of blessings that fill our lives. Yet, it only works if we open ourselves up to the opportunities Shabbat provides.
Part of the magic of Shabbat is the rhythm that is associated with welcoming Shabbat and specifically with Kabbalat Shabbat Services. We sing psalms and usher in Shabbat and at the conclusion of the service, we sing Shabbat Shalom, arm-in-arm. Most important, we come together in community, at this liminal moment of the week.
Yet, this only works if you come to the service! This year, we will be having an early Friday Night Service, once a month. On the second Friday of the month (January 10th and February 14th), services will begin at 6:30pm. It will be a complete service and will conclude by 7:30pm and will be the only service of the evening. Every other Friday night service of each month will begin at 8pm.
Whether it is the 6:30pm service or the 8pm service that works best for you, I hope to see you at the synagogue. And once you find your Friday night rhythm, the truth of Ahad Ha’am’s statement will become even clearer.