Just what is a Shabbat Family Service? That is the question members of the Education Committee, the Worship Committee, and yours truly have been exploring in recent weeks.
There is general agreement that a Family Service should be different than a “regular” Shabbat Service. The use of Visual T’filah, thanks to Rabbi Eve, offers our congregation a creative way to worship. The English prayers should be comprehensible not just to adults but to children as well. In place of reading Torah, a well-told story can serve to enlighten and engage the attention of all in attendance.
There is also agreement that a Family Service should offer opportunities for children to feel part of the service. For example, when we say the prayer called the Hashkiveinu, it’s really beautiful for adults to spread over the children a canopy of peace, represented by an upheld tallit (prayer shawl).
Opinions differ as to other ways to involve the children. Some want to see Religious School classes called-up to help lead a prayer. Others suggest that kids can make a class presentation during the service. There are those who think that holding a dinner before the service would create a welcoming atmosphere. Others think that beginning a Family Service an hour earlier than 7:30pm would encourage more children, especially younger ones, to attend.
There are a lot of worthy ideas that have been discussed in recent weeks about how we can enhance our Family Services. But I have a greater goal in mind and that is to increase the presence of children at all of our Shabbat Services. I want the message to be loud and clear: we love having children at our services! At whatever age, the inclusion of children in our sanctuary is wonderful. Seeing babies, youngsters, children at our services is uplifting for all of us at Temple.
So parents, bring your kids to TBT on Friday night – whether it is a Family Service or not. And if your kids get restless at some point, don’t stress! Beginning tonight, we will begin providing appropriate books and toys. In theSocial Hall, we will also set-up a carpeted area where children can hang-out under a parent’s supervision. We are a warm and welcoming community. Let us do all we can to be a wonderful place for all who join us for Shabbat.
Last week in my blog, I thanked a select number of people for their help during the time I was away on sabbatical. There is one person I neglected to thank: Jack Weinstein. Jack taught our Confirmation class during my absence and as expected, his insights and knowledge enriched our 10th grade students. Thanks Jack!