All of our services are open to everyone who would like to join us for an inspiring prayer experience.

Shabbat at Or Ami

Every Friday night at 7:30pm* we hold Shabbat services followed by an oneg Shabbat (dessert reception). Our congregation uses a set of prayerbooks that have been created by congregants and rabbis over the forty year history of Or Ami. Prayerbook themes change with the seasons and are influenced by current events. We feel that this provides a platform for creative worship while maintaining a unified prayer experience for our congregation, and at the same time open doors for personal spiritual exploration. On most Fridays we read from the Torah.

Following Shabbat worship, we gather in community to catch up on each others' lives.

*Roughly 90% of our Shabbat services begin at 7:30 pm. However, there are a handful of Shabbat services on special holidays (like Passover or Simchat Torah) and Class Shabbat services led by our younger Religious School students that may have earlier start times. Please double check on our calendar page regarding a given week's service start time just to be sure.

Our Service Customs

  • To minimize distractions, we ask that you silence your cell phone during services
  • We encourage you to post or “live tweet” during services. Please share your Or Ami experience using the hashtag #OrAmiRVA
  • We believe in innovative prayer. We create our own prayer books, project PowerPoint services on our walls, hold musical services and explore a number of other engaging and inspiring approaches to prayer.
  • Our prayer books includes Hebrew, transliteration, translation, and creative English readings. We encourage you to join in reading and singing with the congregation.
  • Men and women may wear kippot/yarmulkes (head coverings) and/or tallitot as they desire, though this is not a requirement. Extras are available for your use and can be found at the entrance of the sanctuary.
  • The reading of the Torah in public is an ancient tradition, dating back to the third century B.C.E. It is an honor to be called up to chant the blessings before and after each section is read (aliyah). Those who are called for aliyot are Jews who are at least 13 years old because, with these blessings, the individual affirms acceptance of the Torah and its teachings. Others may be invited to accompany those who recite the Torah blessings.
  • We adorn our Torah scroll with special cloth coverings and silver ornaments responding to our teaching to beautify the Torah. The Torah is ceremonially undressed before and then dressed after it is read. Jews and non-Jews alike may have this honor.

Torah Study

It is a tree of life to all who grasp it, and whoever holds on to it is happy; its ways are ways of pleasantness, and all it paths are peace. (Proverbs 3:17-18)

10:30 AM - every Saturday at Or Ami

For those who want to delve deeper into the Torah portion and parsha of the week or who cannot make it to a Friday evening service, we have a weekly Torah study with Rabbi Ahuva. This includes as a study and discussion of our sacred text.  Paticipants enjoy a pot luck lunch after their study.

Potluck Shabbat Dinner

Several times throughout the year, immediately before Shabbat Services, Or Ami friends and families gather for a Shabbat potluck dinner.  Each family is asked to bring a dish to share, and everyone has the opportunity to volunteer to help with organizing the meal, and setting up and cleaning up the dinner. The dinners are a great way to get involved with the Or Ami community and to get to know other families.

Oneg Shabbat

An oneg is the food put out after Shabbat services. Lingering, talking, and eating after services on Shabbat adds to the feeling of Shabbat being different from other days of the week when we rush to get to our next activity. It also lets us meet and greet other members of our community.

Potluck Onegs

Typical Shabbat onegs at Or Ami take the form of a potluck. Each family is asked to bring a dish to share, and everyone has the opportunity to volunteer to help with setting up before and cleaning up as the oneg winds down. 

The food you bring for an oneg can be as simple or as elaborate as you wish. It could be

  • grape juice and wine
  • challah
  • sweet treats such as cookies or cakes
  • something healthy such as fruit or vegetables, etc.
  • pita and hummus or other dips
  • cheese and crackers
  • a special homemade recipe
  • additional drinks (coffee, tea, soda, water)

How Many People to Expect at an Oneg Shabbat

Usually 50 - 75 people attend services. If the oneg is preceded by a potluck dinner attendance increases slightly.

Kashrut Policies (dietary guidelines)

While Congregation Or Ami does not maintain kosher facilities, we do ask that potluck and oneg contributions are kosher-style. At Or Ami this means no shellfish or pork. At certain times of the year (e.g., Passover), additional dietary laws will also be present. If you have any questions about food you would like to bring, please ask the Rabbi.

Set up

Food and drinks should be set up on the tables in the back of the sanctuary. Since our sanctuary is a multi-use room, setting out food and drinks prior to the start of services will minimize distractions during services. Pour cups of wine and grape juice in small cups. Place the challah on a platter and cover it with a napkin or challah cover. Set up bottles of soda or other drinks outside of the kitchen.

Clean up

Make sure to clean and put away any items that were used or left over. Tie a knot in the garbage bag, if it is full, and remove to the outside receptacle in the parking lot.


Weekly URJ Torah Commentary