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Two Shabbat Morning Family Services

We have created two separate services on Saturday morning so that all of the children will have a service that is age-appropriate for them. In our vision, we have made the service to be participatory for all of the children by giving them parts in the service. All children gather for weekly worship for a 45 minute period at the end of the morning.

Our younger group is for grades K-3 in the beginning of the year, but after January 1st, we move the Grade 3 class to the older children’s service. (At this point, since they have now learned Hebrew, we want to encourage them to read the prayers and follow along with a more structured service.) This service is usually lay-led by volunteer parents, one of whom is a song leader who plays guitar and leads the children in song. Occasionally, the rabbi leads this service so that the younger children have time to interact with her in a service setting. The format for this service is a simple introduction to the meaning of prayers, a story that leads into a discussion (usually value-based, though sometimes related to the weekly parasha), and music. We use much repetition so that the children are familiar with the prayers and music, but not a siddur.

Children in Grades 4-7 gather for a weekly service in the sanctuary. We use the Kol Haneshamah siddur, but do not do a complete service. The service is usually led by the rabbi, although when the rabbi is leading the younger children’s service, or if there is a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, the service is led by the education director. This service follows the format of a Saturday morning Shacharit service, though it is abbreviated due to lack of time, so not all prayers are done each week. There are some prayers that are constant, such as the V’ahavta, Avot v’Emot, Gevurot, Kedusha, and the Torah portion of the service. Each class is assigned to lead prayers, and this is done on a rotating schedule to ensure that all children lead all of the prayers. Some prayers are rotated in, as appropriate, for the younger grades, as they learn the prayers. The prayer parts are generally assigned by the education director, but children are also encouraged to volunteer to lead parts of the service on their own.

Parents are encouraged to attend the services with their children. In the older children’s service, we have included the parents by inviting them to present the weekly d’var torah. This is a way for us to become a congregation of learners, and it also builds community.

Type: Program Description

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