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Shabbat Message from Rabbi Aft

04/17/2015 11:18:49 AM


Dear Friends,


Recently the religious practices committee had a meaningful discussion about changes that we could make to our Shabbat morning service that would make our worship more inspirational for those who attend.  We also hope that more folks will join us on Shabbat morning.  These discussions are ongoing and will be held at an upcoming board meeting, but there was a consensus that we will try to have our services be approximately two hours on a regular basis.  We will be experimenting with different formats and will try to respond to our varied spiritual needs within the congregation.  You will see part of a letter I sent to the committee before our discussions and wanted you all to be able to read about the experiences I had at a panel discussion in Prague at Charles University.  (SEE BELOW)  Please feel free to share any ideas that you may have about our worship with either Carolyn Kaplan or me.


On a separate note, I hope that you will join Rabbi Weiner and me at the JCC for the communal Yom HaShoah commemoration on Sunday night at 7pm.  This is always a meaningful program and it is so important to remember....  Steve Adleberg, a member of our congregation, along with others has worked hard to put together a meaningful program.

A member of our congregation, Erica Berkowitz, is currently on the March of the Living, a trip to Poland and Israel and she commemorated Yom HaShoah through making a plaque and lighting a candle at Auschwitz Birkenau in memory of the person with whom she twinned at her Bat Mitzvah.  What a wonderful tribute to one of many lives that was lost during this horrible time.  May each of us remember someone special on Sunday night.


Shabbat Shalom,


Rabbi Bruce Aft


These are some initial thoughts for our meeting on Tuesday night.  They are based upon a panel on prayer in which I participated at the Theology School of Charles University in Prague. There were different religious leaders representing Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

I would include my thoughts in Czech but they had an interpreter since I really don't know Czech:-)

These are items about which there seemed to be consensus.

First, there seemed to be agreement that many people who come to services are seeking comfort through their prayers.  They wish to engage in a meaningful dialogue that provides opportunities for the person praying to feel that (s)he is not alone and there is someone with whom they can speak.   Btw, my mother used to feel she was speaking to "Mr. Above!"

Hope was an important aspect of peoples' prayers;  not that the prayers will be answered, but rather they will be heard.

An important highlight of the discussions was how prayer can lead to action with the Biblical Prophetic reading from Isaiah quoted which suggests, "Is this the fast we have chosen? "  Our Haftarah on Yom Kippur is from this section.

There was an important discussion about the grammatical form of the word "L'hitpalel" which is reflexive and means that prayer to G-d should have some effect upon us. (ie. guard my tongue from causing harm...motivating us to be careful about what words we use...)

We spent some time talking about Abraham Joshua Heschel's thoughts that prayer leads to a state of wonder, awe or radical amazement.

Finally, prayer is a communal act which can bring people together in a shared venture.

So what does this mean for us at Adat Reyim?  Will shortening a service meet our spiritual needs?

Will shortening the Torah and Haftarah reading create a more spiritual environment?

Would a separate "power service" which I experienced meet our needs that would be one hour and have a guitar and other musical instruments?

Are we shortening the service because we have places to go, we are bored, we believe that more people will come, or that we are tired of sitting and standing?

My personal goal is that we will become a community of spiritually fulfilled friends and as a former President of a congregation I served, Dan Schechter, ( a grandson or great grandson of Solomon Schechter) told me, when we are worshipping we are a congregation of congregations. In other words, they will be many differences of opinion regarding worship and I hope we will come up with consensus about which direction we wish to go.


Congregation Adat Reyim


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6500 Westbury Oaks Ct

Springfield, VA 22152


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