Frequently asked questions about Shabbat Services
Please note that the answers below apply to in-person services, which are not currently taking place but will resume once it is deemed safe by medical experts to do so.
In the meantime, you can check out our livestreamed Friday night service on our community’s YouTube page or Rabbi Ahuva’s Facebook page. If you would like to receive an email with information about our 7:30 pm Friday night service (including a PDF copy of the prayer books we use), our 7:00 pm Friday evening Jewish Meditation over Zoom, or our 11:00 am Saturday Torah Study over Zoom, please contact the rabbi.
Example of a Livestreamed Shabbat Service
The information below pertains to in-person services,
which are not currently taking place.
- What time do Shabbat evening services start?
Friday night services start at 7:30 pm all year round. Extremely rare early start times such as for Simchat Torah will be noted on the Or Ami calendar. Most people arrive around 7:25 pm for the 7:30 service. We have plenty of parking spaces available, so you do not need to plan in extra time to find parking.
- Are there Saturday morning services?
We have Saturday morning services only when we are celebrating B’nei Mitzvah or on a Sarah’s Tent weekend. The Shabbat morning service for B’nei Mitzvah begins at 10:30 am and usually ends before 12:00 pm. When it is not a Bar/Bat Mitzvah or Sarah’s Tent weekend, we have Torah Study instead of services on Saturday morning. (Read more on our Torah Study page.)
- How welcome are children at services?
Children from infants to teens are welcome at every service. We have toys and coloring materials that younger children can use during services. We invite children under age 13 to help with parts of the service, such as carrying plush Torah scrolls around the sanctuary with the rabbi. During the school year, a Friday night service may be led by one of our Religious School classes or our youth group called OATY (Or Ami Temple Youth). We also have special Shabbat morning and High Holy Day services for families who want a very kid-friendly atmosphere. While the majority of service regulars are adults, they are always happy to see children representing the next generation of our sacred community.
- Do I have to be Jewish to attend services?
You do not have to be Jewish to attend services. Everyone is welcome at Or Ami!
If you are thinking about attending for the first time, please reach out to Rabbi Ahuva so we can be sure to welcome you (especially if you would like to attend as a group from a local school, organization, or church, mosque, temple, etc). If you have never been to a synagogue before and would like to know more about the space and sacred objects you will see, you can check out this PDF. If you have questions about the history or meaning of specific prayers or customs, you may also find this PDF to be helpful.
- How should I dress for services?
Business casual is the typical level of dress for Shabbat services. At B’nei Mitzvah and High Holy Day services, most people will wear suits. While we try to dress up a little to make the Sabbath day special, we would rather have you attend in blue jeans than not at all. Please note that there are a few seats directly under the air conditioning vents in the sanctuary. If you get cold easily, you may wish to bring a cardigan.
- Do I need to wear a head covering?
No one is required to wear a head covering such as a kippah/yarmulke. There is a basket of kippot (skull caps) near the entrance of the sanctuary for people of any gender who wish to borrow and wear one during the service. You do not have to be Jewish to wear a kippah, but tallitot (prayer shawls with special fringes called tzitzit) are reserved for Jews over the age of 13 to wear as a symbol of their commitment to the mitzvot (commandments). The tallit is typically worn for morning services rather than evening services, except by the service leader who wears it at all times of day.
- Am I allowed to eat the bread and drink the wine at the end of the service if I am not Jewish?
Yes, everyone is allowed to eat the bread (called challah) and drink the wine. It is not like the Christian rite of Communion. The bread simply represents a full meal, a luxury to enjoy three times on the Sabbath. The wine is likewise a symbol of joy for the joyous day of rest. The blessing over the wine (called Kiddush) thanks God for the wine, the Sabbath, and the exodus from Egypt. The blessing over the bread (called HaMotzi) thanks God for helping us to create bread from the grains of the earth.
- Should I bring anything besides myself to services?
We have a potluck Oneg (reception) after every Friday night service. Please bring something vegetarian to share, such as: a veggie tray, fruit, cheese and crackers, cookies, cake, brownies, and so on. We provide the plates and napkins, so all you need to bring is a little bit of food to share. A portion that can serve about 8 people is ideal. Please be sure to take the leftovers home with you, including your serving dish.
- Where do I put the food that I brought for Oneg?
There are two tables in the back of the sanctuary where you can leave food. If you need to drop it off early, please call ahead and make sure someone is there to help you find a good spot for your item in the kitchen. Space in the refrigerator can be limited.
- Do you use the standard Reform Jewish prayer book called Mishkan Tefilah?
No. We have a long history of writing our own creative services. Many of these services revolve around a particular theme, such as hope, healing, freedom, Tikkun Olam, science, meditation, nature, and so on. B’nei Mitzvah families also write their own unique services. Sometimes instead of using a printed prayer book, we will project a PowerPoint version of the service onto the wall near the ark. This enables us to be “green” while keeping services fresh and inspiring.
- Am I allowed to take pictures or use my cell phone during services?
We ask that you turn your cell phone on silent before services begin. If your family is celebrating a life cycle event such as a baby naming, aufrauf, or B’nei Mitzvah, you are permitted to take pictures as long as it can be done without distracting any other worshippers in attendance. Please ask anyone visible in the photographs you take if they are comfortable with you posting the picture online before sharing it on social media.
- What language do you pray in?
Our services contain a number of English readings, but more than half of the service is traditional Hebrew prayers that we sing or chant. English translations and transliterations (Hebrew words written out in English letters) appear in our prayer books as well.
- What kind of musical accompaniment do you have?
Some services feature piano accompaniment, while others have a songleader playing guitar. For special holidays like Simchat Torah and Chanukah, we often have a full klezmer band play.
- What are some of the tunes that you use for prayers?
Here is a partial playlist of melodies that we often use at Friday night services. (Link to YouTube playlist coming soon.)
- If I would like an honor in the service, what should I do?
If you would like to do an English reading or have another honor in the service, such as going up for an Aliyah, lighting the Shabbat candles, lifting and/or dressing the Torah scroll, you can email Rabbi Ahuva ahead of time or find the greeter with a clipboard assigning service honors. It is best to arrive by 7:15 pm if you want to have an honor in the service.
- If I want the name of a loved one included on the Mi Shebeirach (healing) list or Kaddish (memorial) list, who do I contact?
Please email our administrative assistant Maria at email@example.com with your loved one’s name by Thursday morning. If you are not able to contact Maria before Thursday, the rabbi will invite you to share your loved one’s name immediately before we recite the Mi Shebeirach and Kaddish prayers.
If you have any questions about accessibility, please visit our accessibility page.