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Top panel, windows above the pulpit, left to right: the Patriarchs, Life, the Covenant,
Teach Your Children, Bar and Bat Mitzvah, Marriage, Honor, the Matriarchs
Bottom panel, windows in the rear, left to right: From Generation to Generation,
Prayer, the Major Holidays, the Pilgrimage Holidays,
Kaddish (Memorial Prayer), Hope, Shalom (Peace), the Tree of Life
Back row, left to right: Masada, Mount
Hermon, the Mediterranean Sea,
the Red Sea
Front row, left to right: Jerusalem,
the Negev Desert, Galilee
The Aron HaKodesh, or Holy Ark, is the
resting place of our seven Torahs. The
ark curtain depicts Creation. The Ner
Tamid, or Eternal Light, is mounted
above the ark. The Hebrew phrase is
ktrah gna Sh’ma Yisra-el, “Hear, O
Israel.” The Hebrew letters that frame
the Ark spell out four central themes
of Torah: ,nt emet, truth; esm tsedek,
justice; soj khesed, loving-kindness;
xhnjr rakhameem, mercy.
John A. Fogelman, M.D.
Contributing Editor
Rita T. Fogelman
First Edition
December 2005, Kislev 5766
Spiritual Leader
Rabbi Paul M. Kurland
Affiliated with the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
411 South Little Tor Road
New City, New York 10956-1412
Phone: 845-708-9181
Fax: 845-708-9182
e-mail: [email protected]
web site:
To obtain a copy of this publication, or to correspond with the Editor,
please contact our synagogue office or e-mail to [email protected]
For permission to copy, adapt or otherwise use this guide, please correspond with the Editor.
This guide contains excerpts of Torah and should be given proper respect
in its handling and disposal. If you wish to dispose of it,
please bring it to a synagogue, and do not discard it as waste.
PART ONE: WELCOME TO OUR SYNAGOGUE ..................................................... 1
PART TWO: OUR RABBI’S THOUGHTS ON PRAYER............................................ 1
AND OUR RELIGIOUS PRACTICES ............................................................. 2
An Invitation to Our Non-Jewish Guests ........................................................... 2
We Invite You to Pray; The Righteous Among the Nations
On Entering the Synagogue ............................................................................... 4
We Thank You for Being Our Guest; Ask the Usher; Head-coverings;
Tallit; Work; Smoke-Free Facility; Electrical Devices and Photographic
and Audiovisual Equipment; Money; Entering and Leaving the Sanctuary;
Children; Food; Applause; Places to Change Babies
Sabbath Services – An Introduction:
A Friendly Starting Point for a First Time or Perplexed Guest.............. 6
What Is a Shul and a Minyan; Who Is Here; What We Are; Rabbi; Cantor;
The Hebrew Language; Prayer Book and Bible; The Liturgy; Torah and
Talmud; Bar and Bat Mitzvah; Refreshments and Kiddush; Keeping Kosher
The Sanctuary at the Nanuet Hebrew Center ...................................................11
Entranceway; Lobby; Pulpit; Eternal Light; Ark and Ark Curtains; Torahs;
Reading Table; Front Wall; Windows; Flags; Mezuzot; Banquet Room
About Prayer ......................................................................................................14
Prayer Service; The Language of Prayer; How We Address God; The
Hebrew Blessing; Amen; Davening and the Choreography of Jewish Prayer
PART FOUR: REFLECTIONS ON THE SABBATH ................................................15
PART FIVE: OUR SABBATH SERVICES - A COMMENTARY ...............................17
The Sabbath Morning Service - Prayer by Prayer, Page by Page......................17
The Sabbath Afternoon, Saturday Evening and Havdalah Services Prayer by Prayer, Page by Page............................................................ 25
PART SIX: OUR WEEKDAY MORNING SERVICE ................................................ 28
PART SEVEN: ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ..................................................... 29
What to Do When Receiving an Aliyah to the Torah ...................................... 29
The Jewish Calendar and Holidays ...................................................................31
Conservative Judaism: What We Believe .......................................................... 33
History of the Nanuet Hebrew Center ............................................................. 34
Acknowledgments............................................................................................. 35
Resources and References ................................................................................ 36
PART EIGHT: POSTSCRIPT FROM THE EDITOR............................................... 38
SABBATH MORNING SERVICE AT A GLANCE....................................Back Cover
Our spiritual, educational and lay leadership extend Nanuet Hebrew Center’s
hospitality to our guests. We hope you will feel welcome during your time with us.
We find ourselves simultaneously in two different sanctuaries – a sanctuary in space
and a sanctuary in time. The sanctuary in time is the Sabbath. We believe that each
Sabbath is a priceless gift. For over twenty-five centuries, the Sabbath has been the
time when Jewish communities have come together to reaffirm identity, establish goals
and strengthen bonds of love and concern. At its best, the experience is at once
relaxing and stimulating, familiar and challenging. The air is filled with both
harmonious music and inspiring dialogue. Sometimes we are immersed in the quiet
sounds of prayerful meditation, sometimes the service is like a staged event. There are
moments when we join together and raise our voices in unison, and then others when
each of us reflects upon more private concerns.
Because we believe that prayer adds depth and meaning to our lives, we want our
services to be wholly accessible, easily understandable and spiritually enriching for all.
This guide and commentary has been created to enable everyone to be comfortable
with our Sabbath services, the prayers, rituals and facilities, and to know something
about us and what we do and why we do it.
I pray for many reasons, one of which is the sense of obligation (hiyyuv) that Jewish law
places upon me. This may not seem like a romantic reason, but it has led to the love
affair I have with my Judaism and God.
Through Jewish prayer, God has always been a presence in my life, one as real as any
person. I might even say that God has become even more real, because through prayer
I have allowed God to know me so intimately. When I pray I feel awed, I feel loved
and I feel in love. When I pray, I never feel as if God is judging me. Instead I judge
myself according to God’s standards. Through prayer I walk away with a desire to
please God that may be just as intimate as the desire I have to please my wife. For me
Jewish prayer has always been like an expression of spousal love and daily
I allow myself to be guided by our prayer tradition because I recognize the spiritual
greatness of the Rabbis and Sages who developed the prayer book (siddur). I see their
love for God hidden between the lines. Prayers help me connect to their generations
and every generation, including the present.
I pray in a congregation because one needs a social and historical context in order to
completely express one’s relationship to God. True spirituality is not only an individual
affair. It demands community. It demands continuity. It demands language and
communal deeds.
The guide that follows will help so many find deeper understanding and greater
comfort in Jewish worship and prayer. It will also remind the reader to stop and check
in with one's heart while praying or singing, and to take a moment to listen as the tone
of the praying (davening) changes. It also means listening to the mood and feeling of
those who have joined together at this moment to pray, connecting to an extended
family and tradition.
Rabbi Paul M. Kurland
How good and how pleasant it is that brothers dwell together.
Psalm 133:1
We Invite You to Pray
We hope that everyone who is with us today will feel
comfortable joining us in prayer. Seminal events in the Bible, such as Creation, Adam
and Eve, Noah and the flood, Abraham and the binding of Isaac, the Exodus from
Egypt with the miracle of the parting of the sea, and Moses receiving the
commandments, are also fundamental to Christian theology. Many of our prayers are
recitations of Psalms with which you may be familiar. Many prayers are selections of
text from Torah, the Hebrew Bible, which you may have encountered in reading
scripture. Some prayers are unique to Jewish liturgy, yet are universal in their teaching
and supplication. (For example, read El Adon on page 108 of the prayer book, or
Ashrei, which is Psalm 145, on page 96.) However, much of our Sabbath service will be
unfamiliar to you.
The Righteous Among the Nations In Exodus, the daughter of Pharaoh violated
her father’s decree to drown the male children of Israel in the Nile, taking Moses in his
basket from the river and raising him as her own son. In the Bible she does not have a
name. Our sages chose a name for her: Batya, meaning daughter of God. Today, at Yad
Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, gentiles who rescued Jews from death
are called the “Righteous Among the Nations,” and they are honored with trees and
engraved marble stones in a dedicated garden and along a special avenue. The Talmud
teaches, “The righteous of the nations of the world have a portion in the world-tocome.”
Our sages teach that God hears the prayers of all righteous persons, Jews and nonJews alike. Indeed, we are taught that God hears all prayers, in all languages, and even
those prayers not formed in words, but as expressions of the heart. We invite you to
pray with us, and when you are so moved, to recite those prayers that are familiar and
meaningful to you. Private meditation is called for especially during the Amidah, an
important part of the service when we stand in silent devotion.
Finally, during the Torah service, we invite all of our guests, Jewish and non-Jewish, to
join our congregants asking for a Mi she-Berakh, a blessing for perfect healing for any
person who is ill. The ritual is simple: join the line, and when you are at its head, tell
the rabbi the name of the individual for whom the Mi she-Berakh is being said. (This is
discussed also in “Prayer for Healing” on page 23 of this guide)
But I, through Your abundant love, enter Your house;
I bow down in awe at your holy temple.
Psalm 5:8
We Thank You for Being Our Guest
Nanuet Hebrew Center takes pride in the
beauty and decorum of its services. We know that you wish to act respectfully and
courteously towards your fellow worshipers, and we thank you for that.
Ask the Usher
If you need assistance or have questions about any aspect of the
service or our ritual practice, please ask an usher, who is also called a shamash.
As a sign of humility, reverence and respect we ask that at all
times boys and men in our building wear a head-covering, which is called a kippah or
yarmulke. This practice is based upon teachings in the Talmud, which is the Code of
Jewish Law: “Cover your head, so that the reverence of Heaven be upon you,” and “It
is a custom not to walk under the heavens bareheaded.” We also invite married Jewish
women to wear a head covering. A married Jewish woman who ascends the pulpit
(bimah) must wear a head covering in a long-standing tradition of modesty. Headcoverings for men and women are available at the entrance to our sanctuary.
Tallit During the Sabbath and weekday morning services Jewish men are required
to wear a prayer shawl, which is called a tallit. The fringes at the four corners are called
tzitzit. It is not worn during the afternoon or evening service. Tallit are available at the
entrance to our sanctuary. The wearing of the tallit is based upon the verse, “You shall
make tassels on the four corners of the garment with which you cover yourself,”
(Deuteronomy 22:12) and “They shall put tzitzit on the corners of their garments in
every generation.” This is one of the prayers before putting on the tallit, on page 62 in
the prayer book. Although observant Jewish men wear tzitzit all day, for many Jews the
use of fringes on daily garments was transformed over the passage of time to the
wearing of the prayer shawl at specified times in the synagogue. We ask you to remove
the tallit before entering a restroom.
Work The English meaning of “work” generally implies physical exertion or
what is done in one’s occupation. The biblical Hebrew concept of “work”
(melakhah) is broader, meaning any physically constructive or destructive act.
It includes all forms of Creation, creative activity or mastery over our
environment. In the context of this expanded meaning all such “work” and
associated tasks are forbidden on the Sabbath because God rested from the
work of Creation on the seventh day. “You shall kindle no fire throughout
your settlements on the Sabbath day.” (Exodus 35:3) Thus we rest from
“work” in all its subtleties in the spirit of the Sabbath, distinguishing this day
from other days. These thoughts about work are intended to introduce you to
the next three prohibitions about smoking, electrical devices and money.
We Are a Smoke-Free Facility
In the spirit of the Sabbath, smoking is not
permitted in the building or anywhere on our grounds.
Electrical Devices and Photographic and Audiovisual Equipment In the spirit
of the Sabbath, please turn off all beepers and cellular phones or have them on silent
operation. Please do not use any cellular phone, electrical, mechanical, photographic or
audiovisual equipment, including electronic games, usually played by children. Of
course, electrical and mechanical devices that are medically necessary may always be
Money In the spirit of the Sabbath, we do not offer or exchange money within our
Entering and Leaving the Sanctuary
We request that no one enter or leave the
sanctuary when the congregation is standing, or when the rabbi is speaking.
Children of all ages are always welcome in this sanctuary -- not merely
tolerated, but treasured. We do not take our future for granted and our children are
our future. The voices of small children are a sign of life for any community.
Nonetheless, it is important that children come to view the sanctuary as a special,
sacred place. It is therefore up to parents to supervise them appropriately. We urge
parents to use discretion and to accompany a child out of the sanctuary if the child
becomes a distraction or interrupts the prayer service.
Food Food may not be brought into the building without the approval of our rabbi
because kosher dietary laws (kashrut) are strictly observed. With the exception of baby
food, formula and other fluids, no other food may be brought into the sanctuary at
any time. (Keeping Kosher is discussed on page 11 of this guide.)
Applause We usually express our enthusiasm with handshakes and expressions of
congratulations, such as the phrase, “Yash-er koh-akh,” literally “may you be
strengthened.” We do not applaud during services.
Places to Change Babies
The rest rooms have baby-changing tables.
A Friendly Starting Point for a First-Time or Perplexed Guest
In prayer, we talk to God. In Torah study, God talks to us.
Dr. Louis Finkelstein
What is a Shul and a Minyan
A shul, literally Yiddish for “school,” is both a
congregation and a place, such as a synagogue, where a minyan meets to pray. A minyan
is the assembly of at least ten adult Jews required for communal prayer to take place,
and is necessary for the recitation of certain prayers.
Who Is Here People are here for many reasons.
Many are congregation members who attend services regularly.
Some are here because they are looking for a new spiritual home.
Others in the congregation attend services to celebrate a joyous occasion
(simcha), often joined by family and friends. The event could be a wedding
anniversary; a youngster becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah; the naming of a baby;
or, a bride (kallah) and a groom (katan) receiving the traditional pre-nuptial
blessing (Aufruf.)
Among those present are mourners who are observing either the Jewish
mourning period or an annual remembrance of the anniversary of the death of
a loved one (yahrzeit.)
A congregant may be present to offer a prayer called Gomel, an expression of
thanksgiving after recovery from a serious illness or injury, survival from a
perilous situation, including childbirth, or safe return from a long journey.
The Sabbath binds us all together into one community of people who rejoice together
and support each other, even while we acknowledge the Eternal in prayer.
What We Are The Nanuet Hebrew Center is a Conservative synagogue affiliated
with the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which is discussed on page 33 of
this guide.
Rabbi means “my teacher” and it conveys a rabbi’s principal role: to teach
Torah. Because God no longer speaks directly to human beings, God’s words are
received through our ancient sacred texts and commentaries. Rabbis are teachers
trained in the study and interpretation of those texts. As our spiritual leader our rabbi
also has myriad other functions in the life of the congregation.
The cantor (Hazzan) is a professional trained in liturgical music who leads
communal worship. The cantor is not an intermediary between the congregation and
God; he is an agent who leads the prayers on our behalf. Our cantor also serves many
other functions in the congregation.
The Hebrew Language
Hebrew is the primary language of our service. It has
been the sacred language of the Jewish people for 3,500 years. As such, Hebrew
connects us to Jews all over the world and to Jewish life through the ages. Because we
also seek to make prayer relevant and accessible, English readings are interspersed at
various times. To facilitate the participation of the non-Hebrew reader our prayer
book, which is called a siddur, provides commentary, a modern English translation and
extensive transliteration. Transliteration is the writing of the Hebrew prayers and
songs using the English alphabet. In addition, all the major prayers are explained and
interpreted in this guide, pages 17 – 29. Our siddur is read from right to left, unlike
English, which is read from left to right. The books therefore begin at the right cover,
and proceed through the pages to the left cover, which is the reverse of Englishlanguage books.
Prayer Book and Bible
The prayer book (siddur) is the smaller of the books
distributed in the pews. Our siddur is Siddur Sim Shalom for Shabbat and Festivals. The
phrase Sim Shalom means “Grant Peace.” We have several copies in large-type for the
visually impaired.
The Humash is the larger of the books. A Humash contains the Torah, or the Five
Books of Moses, also known as the Hebrew Bible or the Pentateuch. They are:
Genesis (Breisheet)
Exodus (Sh’mot)
Leviticus (VaYikra)
Numbers (Bamidbar)
Deuteronomy (Devarim).
The Humash also contains Haftarahs, which are special selections from the biblical texts
called the Prophets. The Haftarah often expands upon the themes of the day’s Torah
portion, or relates to observance of an event on the Jewish calendar.
We have two sets of the Humash. The older is Pentateuch and Haftarahs, edited by Dr. J.
H. Hertz; it has a dark blue cover. The newer is Etz Hayim: Torah and Commentary,
which is the Humash of the Conservative movement; it has a dark red cover.
The Liturgy For those who are unfamiliar with Jewish liturgy and our prayer book
(siddur), the service may be confusing and hard to follow. Our service flows rather
quickly with relatively few interruptions. Ask for help from the ushers and from those
around you who seem to know what is going on. Page numbers and prayers
occasionally will be announced. Communal chanting occurs only for certain prayers.
Our congregation stands whenever the ark is open, for parts of the Torah service, for
parts of the Amidah, and for certain other prayers. We will let you know when it is our
custom to stand, but feel free to follow your own customs, should they differ. When a
prayer is said that requires worshippers to stand, it is not necessary for those not
worshiping to stand, although they may if they wish.
As far as being on the right page, do not worry about catching up. You will find us,
and we will find you, when it matters.
Torah and Talmud
Torah means “teaching” or “direction.” In Judaism, it is a
fundamental belief that the Torah, or the Five Books of Moses, are of Divine origin.
The Ten Commandments were given to Moses at Mount Sinai. This is the beginning
of revelation and the renewal of the Covenant between God and the Jewish people.
Additional commandments and laws were revealed, completing the Torah. The Torah is
our most sacred text. For many, the process of revelation did not end at Mount Sinai,
revelation being a continuing event which remains alive today, reflected in the work of
scholars who continue to explore our collective relationship to God. Perhaps it is
similarly alive as we as individuals explore our own sacred encounters with God.
The Talmud is part of what is called The Oral Law. It is a compendium of the work of
rabbinical sages, who explained and interpreted the Torah during a 500-year period
beginning around 100 B.C.E. Of course, Talmud also has been preserved as a written
text encompassing many volumes. The Torah and Talmud are the authoritative
foundations of Jewish practice and life.
The power and importance of these written words are seen when the Torah is taken
out of the Ark. It is treated with the utmost respect and with awe. The Torah itself is a
scroll handwritten on parchment by a scribe. The edges of the parchment panels are
sewn together. The complete parchment is attached at both ends to wooden rollers,
each of which is called an Etz Hayim, or Tree of Life. The Torah is kept covered and
adorned when not being read or studied. A special pointer (yad) is used when it is read
because we never touch the actual written panels.
The Torah is so important that we stand when the Ark is open, when the Torah is taken
from and returned to the Ark, when it is carried in a procession through the
congregation, and when it is lifted for all to see. During the procession, as a sign of
profound respect, many Jews touch the scroll cover with their tallit or a prayer book,
which is then kissed.
Every week, when the Torah is read, Jews in synagogues the world over will read the
same portion (parsha) of the Torah; they all will be on the same page that day. Every
Sabbath morning the weekly Torah portion is read in seven sections, with one
additional section (maftir.) Every Sabbath afternoon there are three sections that are
read. Adult congregants are honored to participate in the ritual of the reading by being
called up to recite the blessings before and after each section is read. A few persons
assume the responsibility for reading the actual text itself. This honor of being called
to the Torah is called an aliyah, which means “to go up.” (Discussed also on page 22 of
this guide.)
The maftir, or eighth person to be called, also chants the Haftarah, which is a selection
from the Prophets. The Haftarah often expands upon the themes of the day’s Torah
portion, or relates to observance of an event on the Jewish calendar.
Bar and Bat Mitzvah The designation Bar or Bat Mitzvah signifies that a young
man or woman is a “son (bar) or a daughter (bat) of commandment (mitzvah).” He or
she has come of age as an adult in the sense that all of the mitzvot -- the
commandments contained within the Torah -- now apply to him or her. No particular
ritual is required to mark the event. The celebratory participation in the service is
simply the first chance to come before the congregation and assume the
responsibilities and privileges of an adult Jew. You often hear of someone being “Bar
or Bat Mitzvahed” but such usage is incorrect. It is not an event. The proper usage is
that the individual is celebrating becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah. He or she becomes an
adult in dealing with the practice of Judaism. For example, he or she is old enough to
be counted as part of a minyan, the assembly of at least ten adult Jews required for
communal prayer to take place. Like high school or college “commencement,” Bar or
Bat Mitzvah is not the end it might seem to be but rather is just the beginning of a
religiously responsible life.
In the prayer service the Bar or Bat Mitzvah is usually marked by having the honor and
privilege of being called to the Torah for an aliyah. Sometimes the Bar or Bat Mitzvah
youngster reads from the Torah. Very often he or she chants the Haftarah, which is the
additional reading from the Prophets. This participation in the Torah service is not
only solemn but also celebrates the sweetness of life. It is often the occasion for a
party, one to which God is an invited guest.
Refreshments and Kiddush Just as the Sabbath does not end at the conclusion of
the morning service, neither does our spirit of hospitality. Usually, at the end of the
Sabbath service we have a kiddush, which is a brief ceremony whereby the Sabbath is
sanctified through blessings and wine. All present are invited. Everyone takes a cup of
wine or grape juice, but does not drink until the blessings are recited. Only after the
completion of the blessings does everyone drink the wine or grape juice. If the
refreshments are light, the ceremony ends there.
If the refreshments constitute a light meal, then there are two other blessings to be
recited. One is for the ritual washing of the hands, N’tilat Yadayim, which intends to
endow the meal with spirituality. The other is Ha-motzi, in which God is thanked for
bringing bread forth from the earth. Thus even when eating, one finds spirituality. The
meal ends with the Grace after Meals, Birkat Ha-mazon, which is a series of verses
reflecting the major themes of the day, thanking God for his bounty, praising God and
asking for God’s blessing.
Keeping Kosher The food at Nanuet Hebrew Center is always kosher, which means
“fit” or “proper for use.” The kosher dietary laws are called kashrut. They are based
upon Biblical commandments. We maintain separate meat (fleishig) and dairy (milchig,)
kitchens. The obligation to separate meat and dairy is expressed in the commandment,
“You shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk.” (Deuteronomy 14:21; Exodus 23:19
and 34:26) The other obligations about permissible and forbidden foods are also based
on biblical commandments. Particularly important are the commandments that
delineate which animals, fowl and seafood may or may not be eaten. (Leviticus 11:147; Deuteronomy 14:2-21) Some foods are neither meat nor dairy, and may be eaten
with both; such foods are called pareve, which means neutral. They include vegetables,
grains, fish and eggs.
Kashrut is not about health or hygiene. Torah associates kashrut with holiness because to
practice it is to observe divine commandments and the discipline imposed by faith.
Being kosher reminds us that we choose our actions each and every day, and that even
in the act of eating we choose to be reminded of our Creator and to add holiness to
our lives.
O Lord, I love Your temple abode, the dwelling place of Your glory.
Psalm 26:8
In the entranceway to the building there is a display case in which
there are several items salvaged from the ruins of the Holocaust. All are from Krakow,
Poland, which had been an important center of Jewish life. These fragments include
portions from two Torahs which were dismantled and hidden in 1939. There is a
volume of Talmud, dated 1880, which also had been hidden. The piece of headstone is
from a destroyed Jewish cemetery.
The hall to the left of the entrance hosts the Tree of Life, originally in our
old building, which honors individuals and commemorates joyous events in the lives
of congregants. In the main lobby the wall opposite the sanctuary is framed by the
Hebrew phrase ofz,c h,bfaz asen hk zagz V’osu lee mikadaish v’shahkhanti
b’tohkam, “And let them make me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them.” (Exodus
25:8) There also is a Holocaust Memorial Sculpture. It is a fire, with six of the flames
cut short, representing the six million Jewish lives cut short in the Holocaust.
Pulpit In the main sanctuary the pulpit is called the bimah. In the ancient Temple it
was the sacrificial altar. It is noteworthy for the presence of the Eternal Light (Ner
Tamid), the Holy Ark (Aron HaKodesh), the candelabrum (menorah) and the large Torah
reading table (shulchan). These objects on the bimah have their origin in instructions
that were given to Moses for the furnishings of the ancient Tabernacle.
Eternal Light
The Eternal Light (Ner Tamid), is mounted above the ark. The
Eternal Light is always lit. Above it is the Hebrew phrase ktrah gna Sh’ma Yisra-el,
“Hear, O Israel.” In answer to the often-asked question of what is done when the
lamp burns out, it is simply replaced - but not on the Sabbath.
Ark and Ark Curtain
The Holy Ark (Aron HaKodesh) is the resting place of our
seven Torahs, their coverings and ornaments. The Ark is situated on the eastern wall,
so that it faces Jerusalem and the site of its ancient temple. The decorated Ark curtain
represents Creation. The Hebrew letters that frame the Ark spell out four central
themes of Torah: ,nt emet, truth; esm tsedek, justice; soj khesed, lovingkindness;
xhnjr rakhameem, mercy.
Torahs Each Torah scroll has a decorated fabric cover, and some also have a silver
breastplate and crown. It may also have a pointer (yad, which means hand) for the
Torah reader to use in following the text because our hands never touch the script. The
Torah covers depict seven landscapes of Israel: Masada, Mount Hermon, the
Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea, Jerusalem, the Negev Desert, and Galilee. One Torah
was recently commissioned and completed in 2003/5763 specifically for the Nanuet
Hebrew Center. Another Torah is one that survived the Holocaust, and is one hundred
and fifty years old. After its final journey to the Nanuet Hebrew Center, our
congregation had it restored so that it is suitable for use.
Reading Table
The reading table (shulchan) is the place from which the Torah is
read. It is the center of much activity during the service. When we ascend to approach
the Torah, we do it with respect and reverence.
Front Wall The large seven-branch candelabrum (menorah), affixed to the wall, is a
treasured fixture from our old building. It is also the symbol chosen to represent the
Nanuet Hebrew Center. Affixed to the other side of the wall is the Hebrew phrase
cegh lhkvt ucy vn ma tovu o’holekhoh Yaakov, “How fair are your tents, O Jacob.”
(Numbers 24:5)
Windows The sixteen stained glass windows represent many themes of Jewish life.
Ten were in our old building, and were moved to this new sanctuary. The front
windows above the pulpit, from the left, represent: the Patriarchs, Life, the Covenant,
Teach Your Children, Bar and Bat Mitzvah, Marriage, Honor, and the Matriarchs. The
rear windows, from the left, represent: From Generation to Generation, Prayer, the
Major Holidays, the Pilgrimage Holidays, Kaddish (Memorial Prayer), Hope, Shalom
(Peace), and the Tree of Life.
The presence of the flag of the United States highlights our love for and
loyalty to this country, which has given its Jewish citizens unprecedented freedom and
opportunity. The flag of Israel expresses our attachment to our historic and spiritual
home, the birthplace of the Jewish people. It affirms our commitment to both the
Jewish people who live within the State of Israel’s borders, and in a deeper sense, to
the survival of the entire Jewish community. In this guide and in Jewish prayer, Israel
usually refers to the Jewish people rather than the modern nation-state of Israel.
Throughout the building, on the right doorpost of each entranceway,
except for the restrooms, there is a mezuzah, a reminder of the entire Torah which the
Jew is bidden to observe. The word refers to a small parchment inscribed with the first
two paragraphs of the blessing called the sh’ma (page 112 of the prayer book.) It is
rolled and protected within a decorative container. The verses are written in a script
identical to the writing of a Torah scroll. These lines are present in accord with the
Biblical instruction to “…inscribe them on the doorposts of your house and on your
gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:9) Mezuzah literally means doorpost.
Banquet Room and Social Hall
The twelve engraved windows taken from the
old building display representations of the twelve tribes of ancient Israel.
Out of the depths I call You, O Lord.
O Lord, listen to my cry.
Psalm 130:1-2
Prayer Service
Our prayer service is a vehicle for reaching out to God, drawing
closer to one another, and finding a place and space for reflection on how to lead lives
filled with wisdom, compassion, meaning and purpose. The path to this selfawareness, communal connection and nearness to God is prayer. Prayer is not the
reading of words. To transform reading into prayer there must be at least a sense of
standing in the presence of God with devotion and the intent to fulfill one of the
commandments; such intent and devotion is called kavanah. Prayer is the language of
eternity. Many of the words we pray today are the words our ancestors prayed
thousands of years ago, and we hope they will be words our descendants will pray
thousands of years from now.
The Languages of Prayer
The traditional language of Jewish prayer is Hebrew,
the language of Torah and of our people’s spiritual yearnings over the millennia. By
praying in Hebrew, we connect ourselves with Torah and with the vocabulary of our
What if we do not understand Hebrew? The Hebrew word for “to pray” is l’hitpalel,
which means to judge oneself. Prayer is about self-reflection as a prerequisite to
approaching God. Our prayers must move us before we can approach God. But
before we can be moved by our prayers, we have to understand them. If you do not
understand Hebrew, you may recite the prayers in English or in the language with
which you are familiar. It is quite appropriate to pray in English or another language.
How We Address God
“Lord,” “Father” and “King” are the traditional terms
used in English texts to refer to God, and they are evocative in their imagery and
associations. However, in Jewish practice, God’s name is never pronounced as it is
spelled in Hebrew. We address God by reading the four Hebrew letters as Adonai, the
Name that identifies God as the Master of All.
The Hebrew Blessing
The basic expression of Jewish prayer is a blessing, which
is called a b’rakhah. The formal Hebrew blessing, central to Jewish prayer, is a
declaration concerning the blessedness of God. The opening words of the formal
blessing are always the same and are repeated many times throughout the service:
Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu melekh ha-olam, which means, “Praised are you Adonai our
God, who rules the universe.” After the above phrase is said, the blessing is completed
to reflect the event or liturgical theme to which it is a response. Three examples are:
borei p’ri ha-gafen
creating the fruit of the vine.
ha-motzi lehem min ha-aretz
bringing forth bread from the earth.
she-heheyanu v’kiy’manu v’higi-anu la-z’man’ha-zeh
granting us life, sustaining us, and enabling us to reach this day.
Amen and Halleluyah
Amen is an expression of agreement or affirmation - "so
be it" - and is related to the word emunah, which means faith or belief. Halleluyah means
“Praise God.” Hallel is the word for praise and yah is one of the names of God.
Davening and the Choreography of Jewish Prayer
Jewish prayer is both
personal and communal. We pray as individuals, but we do so in a group, as part of a
community. To daven is to pray. Davening often appears to be a unique Jewish prayer
form in which a person prays at his or her own pace, sometimes with body movement,
sometimes praying out loud when others are quiet, often seemingly praying by oneself
in the presence of the community and not necessarily being on the same page as one’s
neighbors. This form of prayer balances the needs for collective affirmation and
private expression.
A word on the language of the Sabbath: in Hebrew it is “Shabbat”
The heaven and the earth were finished, and all their array. On the seventh day God
finished the work that He had been doing, and He ceased on the seventh day from all
the work that He had done. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy,
because on it God ceased from all the work of Creation that He had done.
Genesis 2:1-3
Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your
work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the Lord your God: you shall not do any
work … For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth and sea, and all that is in
them, and He rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day
and hallowed it.
Exodus 20:8-11
The Israelite people shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout the
ages as a Covenant for all time: it shall be a sign for all time between Me and the
people of Israel. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh
day He ceased from work and was refreshed.
Exodus 31:16-17
Observe the Sabbath day and keep it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you.
Deuteronomy 5:12
The Sabbath is the choicest fruit and flower of the week, the Queen, whose coming
changes the humblest home into a palace.
Judah Halevi
The symbol of a bride is love, devotion, and joy – an inward feeling. It is the peculiar
inward feeling of the Jew which characterizes the Sabbath day. To him the Sabbath is a
Samuel H. Dresner
A Jew who feels a real tie with the life of his people throughout the generations will
find it utterly impossible to think of the existence of the Jew without Shabbat. One can
say without exaggeration that more than the Jew has kept the Shabbat, the Shabbat has
kept the Jew.
Achad Ha-Am
On the Sabbath a tabernacle of peace is spread over the world, which is thus sheltered
on all sides.
If all Israel observed two consecutive Sabbaths, the Messiah would come.
The meaning of the Sabbath is to celebrate time rather then space. Six days a week we
live under the tyranny of things in space; on the Sabbath we try to become attuned to
holiness in time.
Abraham Joshua Heschel
Would that man would pray all day.
Talmud (Berakhot 21a)
Page numbers are from Siddur Sim Shalom for Shabbat and Festivals
The Sabbath morning service has three major components.
The first component includes the Preliminary Prayers in two sections.
The first section is The Morning Blessings, or Birkhot Ha-Shahar.
The second section is Psalm and Song, or P’sukei D’Zimra.
The second component is the formal Morning Service, or Shaharit. It consists of
three sections.
The first section is the Recitation of the Sh’ma and its Blessings, or K’riat
Sh’ma and its B’rakhot. (The Sh’ma is a declaration of belief and of
allegiance to the One God.) It consists of two blessings before the Sh’ma, the
Sh’ma followed by three groups of verses, and a third blessing after the Sh’ma.
The second section is the Amidah, or the “Standing Prayer.” It consists of
three introductory blessings, a poetic fourth blessing, and three concluding
The third section is the Torah Service. It consists of removing the Torah from
the Ark, reading the Torah and Haftarah, several communal prayers,
announcing the new month if appropriate, a psalm, and finally the return of
the Torah to the Ark.
The third component is the Additional Service, or Musaf Amidah, followed by
several concluding prayers.
Pages 65 – 81: The Morning Blessings. Birkhot Ha-Shahar, literally the blessings
of morning light, has become a generic name for all those b’rakhot, or blessings, which
the Rabbis considered appropriate to recite upon awakening in the morning, to direct
our thoughts to God in preparation for prayer. It celebrates the renewal of life with
each new day, expressing an awareness of human mortality. It includes the first
recitation of the Sh’ma (page 66), Kaddish D’Rabbanan (page 71), The Psalm for
Shabbat: Psalm 92 (page 72), and Psalm 30, a psalm of thanksgiving (page 81). It
concludes with the Mourner’s Kaddish (page 82).
A prayer which proclaims the sanctity of God and asks for the
establishment of God’s sovereignty on earth, the coming of the Kingdom of
Heaven. Kaddish is from the word meaning “sanctification” or “holy.” It is
recited only in the presence of a minyan. It has different forms for different
purposes. Kaddish Shalem, is said after the Amidah has been recited and it
asks that our prayer be acceptable. Hatzi Kaddish, or half-Kaddish, is a
shortened version said at the conclusion of other major parts of the service.
Kaddish D’Rabbanan is said after Torah study, and it asks for God’s
blessings upon those who teach and study the Torah.
Page 82: Mourner’s Kaddish One form of Kaddish is identified as the Mourner’s
Kaddish. In this public recitation of the mourner’s prayer, the congregants respond to
the mourners with “amen” and other phrases. There is not a syllable about death; it is
never mentioned. It is a prayer for the sanctification of God’s name. Mourner’s
Kaddish is about both remembrance and reconnecting to God with a reaffirmation of
faith. Those who have had a recent death, or a death of a family member within the
previous year, rise and pray. We also continue to remember our family members who
have died by this act of prayer every year on the anniversary of their death, the yahrzeit.
Some individuals rise to recite the Kaddish to remember Jewish martyrs. We are
reminded that our departed live on through our memories, through their teachings,
and through the love they gave us. This prayer is a deeply personal prayer. At the same
time, we say it in the midst of the congregation, to ensure that although death has
taken those we love, we are still surrounded by life, our family and our friends.
Pages 83 – 106: Psalm and Song, or P’sukei D’Zimra, is a series of introductory
psalms which celebrate God’s majesty. They praise God as the Author of nature, the
Master of justice, The Giver of Torah, and the Guardian of Israel. These passages are
designed to bring us into the main part of the service in the proper spirit, with an
informed heart.
Page 83: Barukh She’amar, “Praised is God whose word,” is a short prayer that
introduces the psalms of P’sukei D’Zimra.
Page 92: Hodu la-Adonai ki tov, Psalm 136, “Praise Adonai, for God is good,” is
a thanksgiving Psalm, with the chanted refrain, “ki l’olam hasdo,” “God’s love endures
Pages 96 - 97: Ashrei, Psalm 145, is the centerpiece of this introductory section. It
means “happy” or “blessed,” the first word of the preceding Psalm 84, which gives the
following Psalm 145 its name. Ashrei is a universal psalm —Israel is never
mentioned—calling upon all of humanity to praise and thank God for providing for
our most basic needs. It proclaims the supreme nature of God.
Pages 97 - 100: The Ashrei above is followed by an additional series of Psalms: 146,
147, 148, 149 and 150. These are a group of halleluyah psalms, consisting of forceful
and enthusiastic calls to praise God; they are the concluding passages of the Book of
Page 101: Vyivarekh David, “David praised” and Atah Hu Adonai l’vadekhah, “You alone are Adonai” are two songs of praise. They form a bridge
between the preceding psalms and the profound song of praise that follows.
Pages 102-103: Vayosha Adonai and Az yashir Moshe, the Song of the Sea, are
songs of triumph and praise to God. They are sections of the Torah that recount the
Exodus, the event viewed as the supreme experience of God’s redemption of Israel.
The Exodus is a critically important theme repeated many times in every service.
Pages 104 – 106: Nishmat, the “breath of all that lives,” Shokhein Ad, “God,
sacred and exalted,” and Yishtabakh, “You shall ever be praised,” are the
concluding prayers of the preliminary sections. Their message is that all living
creatures pray instinctively, praising God through actions as well as words. Even
breathing is a form of praise, testifying to the miracle of life’s daily renewal.
Page 106: Hatzi Kaddish announces the transition to the beginning of Shaharit, or the
formal morning service itself.
Pages 107 – 114: Shaharit is the Morning Service. After the above preliminary
prayers, we now begin the formal morning service.
Page 107: Bar’khu is the “Call to Prayer. The leader bows for the first two words,
but stands upright while reciting God’s name, and the congregation follows likewise
with its response. This “Call to Prayer” is a call to dialogue, a dialogue with God. It
serves as the ceremonial opening of the blessings that follow, as well as the
commencement of the main section of communal prayer.
Pages 107 - 110: The first blessing before the Sh’ma immediately follows the Bar’khu. It
recognizes the orderly transition from light to darkness, and praises God for all of
Creation. This first blessing is completed by Ha-kol yodechah, “All creatures praise
you” (page 107), El Adon, ‘Creation reflects…” (page 108), L’ayl aher Shavat,
“To God, who completed the work...” (page 109), and Titbarakh, “You shall be
praised” (page 110). These poems praise God for the phenomenon of light, the
majesty of Creation and the miraculous order of nature and its cycles, acknowledges
the Sabbath, and reiterates God’s sovereignty, mercy, love, knowledge, wisdom and
sanctity. This long blessing ends on the same theme of Creation with which it began,
the phrase “Creator of lights.”
Page 111: The second blessing before the Sh’ma. is Ahavah Rabah, “Deep is your
love.” In this blessing we praise God for the gift of the Torah, sign of God’s love, and
commit ourselves to its study. Near the end of this blessing, at the words “from the
four corners of the earth,” we gather together the tzitzit, which are the knotted fringes
at the four corners of the tallit, a reminder of our loving dedication to observe all of
God’s mitzvot, or commandments. [See also Tallit on page 4 of this guide.]
Pages 112 - 113: The K’riat Sh’ma, The recitation of the Sh’ma and its Blessings,
is a declaration of belief and of allegiance to the One God: “Hear, O Israel: Adonai is
our God, Adonai alone.” [The use of Adonai is discussed in this guide on page 14,
“How we address God.”] It is not a prayer. It is a reading of selections from the Torah
that emphasize important tenets of Judaism, stressing the need to study all of the Torah
and observe all of its commandments. It serves as a declaration of our loyalty to God,
our belief in God’s sovereignty, in God’s unity and uniqueness, and in God as
Redeemer. By reciting the Sh’ma, we freely affirm our commitment to and acceptance
of all Jewish values. Although the collection of readings which comprise this unit of
the service is not a prayer, it has become perhaps the most dramatic and universally
known part of the Jewish prayer service.
Many congregants follow the custom of closing one’s eyes, or covering them with the
right or dominant hand, before and during the recitation of the first verse of the Sh’ma.
The ritual is to clear ourselves of distraction as preparation for the verse and to force
our concentration on accepting the sovereignty of God upon oneself.
The first group of verses instructs us to love God “with all your heart, with all your
soul, with all your might,” to take to heart God’s words and to teach them to our
children and practice its principles.
The second group of verses (page 112) urges the acceptance of the discipline of the
commandments (mitzvot), to “serve God with all your heart and all your soul.” It
details the rewards for observing the commandments and the dire consequences of
The third group of verses (page 113) ordains an action that symbolizes these
principles: gazing at the tzitzit. The four corners of the tallit are gathered together a few
moments earlier at the mention of the four corners of the earth (page 111), and we
kiss them each time the word tzitzit is mentioned. The tzitzit are reminders of all the
commandments to be observed.
Pages 113 - 114: The third blessing of the Sh’ma begins with Emet V’yatzeev, “true
and enduring.” We praise God as the eternal Redeemer of Israel, attested through
our historic experience as God’s eternal people. It continues with Mi khamokha,
“who is like you.” It speaks of the redemption of Israel on the shores of the sea. The
Exodus from Egyptian slavery marked our birth as a nation and has become everpresent in the Jewish experience, recounted each day in our prayers as a remembrance
of the spiritual goals of the ancient redemption from bondage.
Pages 115 - 120: The Amidah means “The Standing Prayer.” The Amidah is
essentially a personal prayer and is said as a private devotion. It is recited while
standing and facing the direction of Jerusalem. The Amidah takes different forms on
the Sabbath and festivals than on weekday services. The Sabbath Amidah is a
collection of seven blessings, praises and petitions. The Amidah begins with three
blessings which refer to our different perceptions of God. We praise God and
contemplate God’s presence in history, in nature, and in our immediate experience of
the Divine. The fourth blessing is the sanctification of the Sabbath, reflecting the
holiness and special nature of the day. The last three blessings conclude the prayer
with the request that God accept our worship, a prayer of thanksgiving and
acknowledgment of God, and a prayer for peace.
When the Amidah is repeated as a communal prayer it includes the Kedushah, which
means “holiness.” The Kedushah (page 116) is a poetic elaboration of the third
blessing of the Amidah, featuring Isaiah and Ezekiel’s dream-like visions and Psalm
146. We literally lift ourselves by rising on our toes when reciting the words “Kadosh,
kadosh, kadosh,” “Holy, holy, holy.”
Pages 132 – 137: Hallel, which means “Praise,” is a series of six Psalms, 113 through
118, which are recited in full or in part when the Sabbath coincides with Rosh Hodesh,
which is the new month, or with certain festivals. These Psalms sing God’s praise
while alluding to the themes of the past (the Exodus from Egypt,) the present (the
teachings of the Torah) and the future (the coming of the Messiah.)
Page 138: Kaddish Shalem asks that God accept the words we prayed in the Amidah.
Pages 139 – 154: Torah Service During Shaharit, the Morning Service, we talk to God
in prayer. Here in the reading of the Torah, we are listening to God talk to us. The
Torah represents the word of God, however one understands that. Usually eight Jewish
adults have an aliyah, which means “to go up,” to chant blessings before and after each
section is read. (Torah is discussed also on pages 8 - 9 of this guide.) The concluding
aliyah is called the maftir. The person called for the maftir chants the Haftarah, a
selection from the Prophets. The Haftarah often expands upon the themes of the day’s
Torah portion, or relates to observance of an event on the Jewish calendar.
As each person goes up to say the blessings, he or she kisses the sacred parchment
with the tzitzit (fringes with knots) of your tallit or the Torah belt, thereby declaring
again our acceptance of the gift of the Torah. While the Torah may have been given to
Israel only once, it is received over and over again, by anyone willing to hear its
Pages 143 – 144 Mi she-Berakh is a blessing chanted during the Torah service. It is a
prayer that begins, “ May God who blessed our ancestors …” It then continues with a
supplication for the well-being of one who has had an aliyah; for persons marking a
special occasion, such as becoming a bar or bat mitzvah, a wedding anniversary, a baby
naming, an Aufruf for those about to be married, upon leaving for a trip to Israel, a
mother after childbirth, the parents of a newborn child; or Gomel¸ a prayer of
thanksgiving after one has recovered from a serious illness or injury, survived a
perilous situation or life-threatening crisis, or returned safely from a long journey.
Prayer for Healing A special form of Mi she-berakh is a blessing for a
perfect healing, refuah shleima, for one who is ill. It is recited during the Torah
service. In our congregation its place in the service is usually after calling the
person for the sixth aliyah. Those wishing to have someone who is ill included
in the blessing form a line in front of the bimah when the Mi she-Berakh is
announced. All guests, Jewish and non-Jewish, are invited to participate. The
procedure is to join the line, and when you are at its head, tell the rabbi
the name of the person for whom you wish the Mi she-Berakh to be said.
After the Torah portion and Haftarah are completed, the congregation joins in other
prayers. At this point, prayers of concern are expressed for the welfare of the
congregation and the local community (page 148), our country (page 148) and the
State of Israel (page 149.)
Page 150: If a new month, Rosh Hodesh, begins in the week following the Sabbath
then the new month is announced. We pray that it will bring blessings and renewal to
all the people Israel.
Pages 151 – 152: Ashrei Psalm 145 is sung before the Torah is set back into the ark,
again with song and procession. (Ashrei is discussed on page 19 of this guide.)
Page 154: The Torah service concludes with the moving song Etz hayim which
identifies the Torah as a “tree of life.”
Page 155: Hatzi Kaddish announces the transition to the beginning of Musaf, or the
additional Amidah.
Pages 156 – 161: Musaf, which means “additional,” is a second Amidah inserted into
services for the Sabbath and festivals that recalls the glory and grandeur of ancient
Jerusalem. It is also a reminder of the double Sabbath portion of manna in the
wilderness. [The Amidah is discussed in a previous commentary on pages 21 - 22 of
this guide.] The traditional Musaf includes recollections of the additional sacrificial
offerings in the Temple on the Sabbath and festivals. The traditional prayers for
restoration of sacrifices are here transformed into a historical reference. The Musaf
Amidah also includes a Kedushah, which means “holiness.” As in the earlier
Morning Service (Shaharit), the Kedushah is based on the recitation of mystical biblical
verses of Isaiah and Ezekiel and also Psalm 146.
Page 181: Kaddish Shalem asks that God accept the words we prayed in the Amidah.
Pages 182 – 187: Concluding prayers
Page 182: Ein Keloheinu is a popular hymn of praise to God. In this prayer God has
four names: Eloheinu, “our God”; Adonenu, “our Master’: Malkenu, “our King”; and,
Moshienu, “our Deliverer.”
Page 183: Aleinu, “We rise,” is a universal, messianic anthem of hope. The prayer
aspires to a vision of all people united under one God. The first paragraph deals with
the present; the second paragraph speaks of the future, expressing a longing for God
to be worshiped by all humanity so that mankind may be perfected. Because it is a
sublime declaration of faith and an act of witnessing God, it is customary to bend the
knees and bow at the waist at the words Va-anahnu korim u-mishtahavim u-modim, “We
bend the knee and bow,” and to straighten with the next phrase lifnei melekh,
“acknowledging the Supreme Sovereign...”
Page 184: Mourner’s Kaddish is an affirmation of faith. All those who are in the
period of mourning, who are observing yahrzeit, the anniversary of the death of a loved
one, or who are remembering the Jewish martyrs stand to recite this prayer. [The
Mourner’s Kaddish is discussed in a previous commentary on page 18 of this guide.]
Pages 185 – 186: An-im Z’mirot, “Hymn of Glory,” is a mystical poem employing
magnificent metaphoric images from many textual sources to praise the majesty of a
God who is beyond description.
Page 187: Adon Olam is a popular hymn about the nature of God that may be sung
in a variety of melodies. It has echoes of Psalm 23 in the phrase “God is with me; I
have no fear.” It usually concludes the Sabbath morning service.
Evening, morning, and noon, I complain and moan, and He hears my voice.
Psalm 55:18
Page numbers are from Siddur Sim Shalom for Shabbat and Festivals
Mincha (Pages 226 – 256) is the Sabbath afternoon service.
Pages 226 – 227: Ashrei is discussed on page 19 of this guide.
Pages 227 – 228: Kedusha D’Sidra This is another version of the Kedushah and its
theme of holiness, discussed on page 22 of this guide, with the addition of prophetic
verses of comfort from Isaiah, verses of comfort announcing God’s forgiving nature
and a blessing concerning the truth of the Torah.
Page 229: Hatzi Kaddish is discussed on page 18 of this guide.
Pages 229 - 232: The Torah Service is discussed on pages 8 - 9 and 22 of this guide.
At this service the Torah portion is read in three sections, with three individuals called
up for an aliyah.
Page 233: Hatzi Kaddish is discussed on page 18 of this guide.
Pages 234 – 239: The Amidah, “The Standing Prayer,” including the Kedushah, is
discussed on pages 21 - 22 of this guide.
Page 247: Kaddish Shalem is discussed on page 18 of this guide.
Page 248: Aleinu, “We rise” is discussed on page 24 of this guide.
Page 249: Mourner’s Kaddish is discussed on pages 18 and 24 of this guide.
Maariv (Pages 281 – 298) is the Saturday evening service for the conclusion of
the Sabbath. It is a weekday service because it is the beginning of the first day of the
Pages 281 - 285: The K’riat Sh’ma, The recitation of the Sh’ma and its Blessings
is discussed on pages 20 - 21 of this guide.
Page 281: Bar’khu, the Call to Prayer, is discussed on page 20 of this guide.
Page 281: The first blessing before the Sh’ma, immediately following the Bar’khu, is
the blessing of light, a blessing for Creation.
Page 281: The second blessing before the Sh’ma is the blessing of Torah, a blessing
for revelation.
Page 282: The K’riat Sh’ma, The recitation of the Sh’ma and its Blessings is
discussed on pages 20 - 21 of this guide. It includes the Sh’ma and verses that proclaim
monotheism and the acceptance of God’s sovereignty and authority, verses that affirm
acceptance of the commandments, and verses that invoke the fringes, tzitzit, to
observe all the commandments.
Page 283: The third blessing of the Sh’ma begins with Emet Ve-Emunah. It
continues with Mi khamokha, “who is like you.” It is a blessing of affirmation, a
blessing of redemption.
Page 284: The evening Sh’ma has an additional fourth blessing, praising God for
the peace and protection we are given in our times of need.
Page 285: Hatzi Kaddish is discussed on page 18 of this guide.
Pages 286 – 291: The Amidah, “The Standing Prayer,” is discussed on pages 21 22 of this guide. In the weekday service the first and last three benedictions are the
same as on the Sabbath, but here there are thirteen additional benedictions that
request knowledge, repentance, forgiveness, redemption, healing, a productive year,
freedom, justice, retribution for persecutors, reward for the righteous, the rebuilding
of Jerusalem, messianic redemption and that God hear our prayers.
Page 292: Hatzi Kaddish is discussed on page 18 of this guide.
Pages 292 – 293: Psalms 90 and 91 and several Biblical verses.
Page 294: Kaddish Shalem is discussed on page 18 of this guide.
Page 297: Aleinu, “We rise” is discussed on page 24 of this guide.
Page 298: Mourner’s Kaddish is discussed on pages 18 and 24 of this guide.
Havdalah (Pages 299 – 300), which means “separation” or “division,” is the service
that concludes the Sabbath.
Havdalah is rich in symbols and religious significance. It underscores the sanctity and
uniqueness of the Sabbath by making a distinction and separation between the
Sabbath and the weekdays. We bid the Sabbath farewell with light and ceremony, just
as we greet her upon her arrival.
It begins with an opening of several verses intended to lift our spirits and grant us the
fortitude to face the coming week with its struggles and challenges, the end to the all
too brief liberation that comes with the Sabbath.
These verses are followed by a series of blessings. First there is the blessing on wine;
the cup is filled to the brim until there is a little overflow, intending to serve as a sign
of blessing for a good week ahead. The wine is not yet drunk. Next the blessing on
spices is recited. The “additional soul” one receives on the Sabbath -- the restful,
contented feeling of the Sabbath -- departs at its conclusion, leaving gloom in the
individual who is then refreshed and strengthened by the scent of the spices. A candle
with at least two wicks is lit. This is followed by the blessing on firelight, symbolizing
the discovery of fire and the renewed use of fire which is permitted after the Sabbath.
The hands are extended towards the candle and looked at, so that the renewed light
may be appreciated and enjoyed. Further, the light reminds us of the first day of
Creation, the beginning of the week.
The service is completed with the Havdalah blessing itself, praising God for creating
the distinction between that which is sacred and that which is not. The wine is then
drunk, saving some in which to extinguish the flame. The final prayer, Ha-mavdil,
asks that our sins be forgiven and that we be blessed with a week of goodness. We
wish each other “Shavua tov,” “A good week.”
The weekday morning service, Shaharit, is similar to the Sabbath morning service
(see the gray shaded area on page 17 of this guide), except in certain important aspects.
Tefillin are worn during the weekday morning service but not on the Sabbath or on
festivals. Teffilin, or phylacteries, are reminders of the entire Torah which the Jew is
commanded to observe. They consist of two black boxes which contain small scrolls
of parchment with biblical verses, and black straps for placing them on the hand and
arm, and on the forehead between the eyes. They are worn according to the
commandment, “Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them serve as a symbol on
your forehead.” (Deuteronomy 6:8) The person who dons teffilin is inspired to be
influenced by the commandments in what he thinks and senses and how he acts.
Torah is read on Monday and Thursday mornings; on the first day of a new
month (Rosh Hodesh) if it falls on a weekday; and on festivals that fall on a weekday.
Musaf, the additional service on the Sabbath, is not recited on weekdays unless it is
the first day of the new month (Rosh Hodesh) or a festival.
In the weekday Amidah the first and last three benedictions are the same as on the
Sabbath, but there are thirteen other benedictions for the weekday that are different
from the Sabbath Amidah. They request knowledge, repentance, forgiveness,
redemption, healing, a productive year, freedom, justice, retribution for persecutors,
reward for the righteous, the rebuilding of Jerusalem, messianic redemption and that
God hear our prayers. (The Amidah is discussed on pages 21 - 22 of this guide.)
Transliteration and translation are from
Siddur Sim Shalom for Shabbat and Festivals, Page 142
In order to properly call you to the Torah, we will want to know your Hebrew
name, which consists of your Hebrew name and your father’s Hebrew name, and
optionally your mother’s Hebrew name. When you are approached for an aliyah, please
indicate if your ancestry is Kohen or Levi.
After going up to the bimah, stand at the right of the Torah reader.
With the silver pointer the reader will show you the first word of the Torah
portion about to be read. Take either one of the tzitzit (fringes with knots) of your
tallit or the Torah belt, touch the place in the Torah pointed to by the reader, and then
kiss the tzitzit or belt.
Grasp both handles of the Torah and recite in Hebrew the following:
Bar’khu et Adonai ha-m’vorakh.
Praise Adonai, the Exalted One.
The congregation will respond and then you repeat the response, thus:
Barukh Adonai ha-m’vorakh l’olam va-ed
Praised be Adonai, the Exalted One, throughout all time.
Then add:
Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu melekh ha-olam,
asher bahar banu mi-kol ha-amim,
v’natan lanu et torato.
Barukh atah Adonai, noten ha-Torah.
Praised are you Adonai our God, who rules the universe,
choosing us from among all peoples by giving us the Torah.
Praised are You Adonai, who gives the Torah.
The Torah reader will now take the left handle of the Torah, but you will
continue holding the right handle. The portion will be read.
At the end of the reading, the Torah reader will point with the silver pointer to
the last word he has just read. Let go of the right handle of the Torah, touch the word
pointed to with the tzitzit or Torah belt as before, and kiss once again.
Recite the second blessing, again grasping both handles:
Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu melekh ha-olam,
asher natan lanu torat ehmet,
v’hayei olam nata b’tokhenu
Barukh atah Adonai, noten ha-Torah.
Praised are you Adonai our God, who rules the universe,
giving us the Torah of truth, planting within us life eternal.
Praised are You Adonai, who gives the Torah.
Then move further to the right of the reading desk so that the person
following you may take his or her place immediately to the right of the Torah reader.
Remain in place at the reading table until the person who followed you has completed
the same full procedure.
As you leave, you may wish to shake hands with everyone at the reading desk
and on the bimah. If a second or third Torah has been removed from the Ark, it is
customary to kiss them with your tallit or a prayer book before leaving the bimah. Some
individuals descend the bimah backwards so as not to turn their backs on the Ark.
The Jewish calendar harmonizes elements of both lunar and solar calendars. It uses
lunar months for its basic calculations, but makes adjustments for the solar seasons.
The moon waxes and wanes and so reflects the fluctuating fate of the Jewish people.
Yet the moon is always renewed, and so is seen as a sign of the people Israel’s
redemption. We celebrate the new moon, Rosh Hodesh, each month as an
opportunity for renewal, just as the Sabbath is a time of renewal every week.
The Days of Awe, a period of ten days, begins with Rosh HaShana, the Jewish New
Year. It commemorates Creation, and it is Judgment Day, the Day of Remembrance
on which God recalls the deeds of the past year. The ensuing days are for repentance,
prayer and charity. The Holy Days culminate in Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement
on which God’s judgment is sealed; it is marked by fasting and continuous prayer.
Shortly thereafter is Sukkot, the eight-day Feast of Tabernacles, which celebrates
Israel as a pilgrim people, wandering in the wilderness, expiating the sin of a
generation that rebelled against God. A temporary dwelling open to the sky, called a
sukkah, is erected at the synagogue and at congregants’ homes to emulate the
hardships and the temporary dwellings used by the people in the wilderness. Meals are
eaten in the sukkah. It ends with Hoshanah Rabah, when God’s final judgment for
the world is sealed. The eighth day of the festival is Shemini Atzeret, a day for
rejoicing; it completes the festival period. The day after is Simkhat Torah, which
celebrates the completion and immediate beginning again of the cycle of Torah
Hanukah means re-dedication and commemorates the reclaiming of the ancient
Temple in Jerusalem after it had been defiled. The legend tells us there was enough
sacramental oil for only one day, but the oil miraculously burned for eight days. Thus
Hannukah is observed for eight days, with candles or oil lit in a menorah in increasing
numbers each day. We are reminded through the agency of light illuminating the
darkness that spirituality triumphs over force.
Tu B’shvat is the harbinger of spring, when fruit begins to form. We celebrate it as
the new year of trees.
Purim is a one-day celebration that commemorates the saving of the Jewish
communities living under Persian rule and the failed efforts to exterminate our
ancestors. The events are described in the Book or Scroll of Esther, more popularly
called the Megillah, which is read at synagogue services with much gaiety and
Pesach, or Passover, is a celebration of freedom which commemorates the
anniversary of our liberation from slavery in Egypt, the season of our redemption. It is
recounted in Exodus, and we are obligated to tell the story to our children at the seder,
the ritual meal on the first and second nights of the eight day festival. We are
permitted to eat only unleavened bread, matzoh. There are elaborate rules and rituals
for this holiday. The month of Nisan, in which Passover always occurs, is designated in
the Torah as the first month of the year.
Seven weeks later is Shavuot, which celebrates God’s freely giving, and Israel’s
willingly receiving, the Torah. It marks the declaration of the Ten Commandments. It
commemorates the awesome event of the Revelation, when God’s will was revealed to
the people Israel.
Tisha B’Av is the saddest and most tragic day on the Jewish calendar. It is the only
full fast day comparable to Yom Kippur. It is a day of mourning, memorializing the
destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem and the historical coincidence of the
subsequent destruction of the Second Temple on the same day, the ninth day of the
month of Av.
Judaism is a way of life that endeavors to transform virtually
every human action into a means of communion with God.
Louis Finkelstein, The Jews
Conservative Judaism affirms its belief in revelation, the uncovering of an external
source of truth emanating from God. This affirmation emphasizes that although
truths are transmitted by humans, they are not a human invention.
Emet Ve-Emunah (Truth and Belief)
Conservative Judaism is a vital movement appropriately defined by its motto,
“Tradition and Change.” It is a movement committed to the observance of halakha,
which is Jewish law, and its integration into the modern experience. Halakha is
understood to evolve slowly through time so that it may be interpreted in
contemporary ways without being discontinuous with the past.
Judaism rises and falls in accordance with the degree to which halakha permeates and
penetrates the life of the Jewish people.
Isaac Klein, A Guide to Jewish Religious Practices
The objectives of United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism are:
• to advance the cause of Judaism in America and the maintenance of Jewish
tradition in its historic continuity;
• to assert and establish loyalty to the Torah in its historic exposition;
• to further the observance of Sabbath, dietary laws and the holy days;
• to preserve in the service the reference to Israel’s past and the hopes for her
• to maintain the traditional character of the liturgy, with Hebrew as the
language of prayer;
• to foster Jewish education in religious schools, in the curricula of which the
study of the Hebrew language and literature shall be given a prominent place.
Conservative Jews:
• understand the requirement of the performance of mitzvot, which are
appreciate the centrality of Torah, mitzvot and God in their lives;
endorse marriage within the faith for themselves and for their children;
support synagogues and Jewish institutions, and attend services;
employ Jewish values to guide personal decisions and behavior designed to
effect tikun olam, which is healing of the world;
are committed to furthering the State of Israel;
act at all times as responsible members of Klal Yisrael, the community of Israel.
Adapted from The Conservative Jewish F.A.Q.
On Yom Kippur eve in 1939, a small group of Jews from Nanuet, walking home in the
rain from services in Spring Valley, decided to form a congregation in their own
community. At first, they gathered for services in various homes. On the eve of Rosh
Hashanah in 1940, they met for the first time in the garage on the property of the Stark
family. The garage was home to this new congregation until 1948.
The name – Nanuet Hebrew Center – was selected and a charter was acquired, dated
November 18, 1941. A small congregation from Bardonia joined in 1942. As new
Jewish families moved into the community, synagogue membership grew. Land was
bought for a new building on Middletown Road in Nanuet. The dedication was on
June 6, 1948. The first Rabbi, Moses Einhorn k z (z”l, of blessed memory) served
from 1948 to 1949. The congregation joined United Synagogue of America.
Subsequently the various arms and activities of the congregation were organized.
With the opening of the Tappan Zee Bridge and the extension of the Palisades
Interstate Parkway, membership grew rapidly. A new wing of the building was
dedicated in 1959. Dr. Hyman J. Routtenberg k z became the Rabbi in 1960. His
thirteen-year tenure lasted until he retired to Jerusalem. In 1975, Simon Potok
k z became our rabbi. In 1976, a milestone was reached when Rose Kiesler became
the synagogue’s first female president. In 1978, another milestone in women’s
participation in congregational life was reached when Rabbi Potok announced a threeyear program to expand the role of women in the Torah service.
In 1993 a representative of a large corporation expressed an interest in purchasing the
synagogue property. Over the next five years the synagogue leadership, guided by
President Mollie Friedman, found a committed buyer, selected a new site, and guided
the design and construction of a new building. Those years were a time of uncertainty
and upheaval, combined with excitement and anticipation of a fine new facility.
In 1994, Rabbi Potok became gravely ill, prompting an outpouring of support from
the congregation for him and his family. He died in 1995, before the completion of
the new building. His funeral in our original building was one of the saddest events in
the life of our congregation.
On April 6, 1997, a groundbreaking ceremony was held at the new site. Our last
afternoon service was held in the original synagogue on Labor Day, September 7th,
1998. That same day a processional took place. Our congregation’s seven Torahs were
carried outside and around the building, then carried two and one half miles north to
the new building. The first service was conducted that evening by Rabbi Paul Kurland,
our rabbi since 1997. He was assisted by Cantor Martin Konikoff. Rabbi Kurland
continues today as the Rabbi.
Second and third generation members are now active participants in synagogue affairs
and third generation children are enrolled in our schools. The high ideals of our
founders have been our inspiration and will continue "from generation to generation.''
Adapted from the work of David Weinger k z
Late Archivist and Historian of the Nanuet Hebrew Center
I am indebted to Rita Fogelman, Contributing Editor, who patiently and graciously
read draft after draft, thoughtfully adding clarity, brevity and style. The meticulous
critical reading by Seth Fogelman made a substantial contribution to this work. Dr.
Harold Fogelman and Leah Fogelman made many useful suggestions. Several
members of the Ritual Committee enhanced this work with thoughtful criticism: Steve
Abrams, Stanley Blumenthal, Marilyn Felenstein, Andrew Gordon, Cantor Barry
Kanarek, Rabbi Paul Kurland, Ruth Levy and Alan Schenkel. Steve Abrams’ erudition
and continuing interest in this work is especially appreciated. Finally, I thank Rabbi
Kurland for his praise and for granting his rabbinic endorsement.
This printing is made possible by financial support from
The Nanuet Hebrew Center’s Men’s Club, Rabbi’s Discretionary Fund, Shabbos Club
and Sisterhood
Alan and Estelle Eisenkraft, Harold and Sandra Fogelman, John and Rita Fogelman,
Harold and Mollie Friedman, Mark and Elyse Hausner, John and Ilse Lang, and
Edward and Bella Studnitzer
Bob and Fran Rosenzveig
Steve and Ellen Abrams, Val Ezra, Barry and Marilyn Felenstein, Max and Kenie
Mittleman, and Sharon Rappaport
I am grateful to Andy Kaye of Pronto Graphics in Suffern, N.Y. for his generous
This guide had been freely adapted from several already published by other
congregations. We thank them for their generosity in making their work available to
the Jewish community and for permission to use them.
Welcome to Shabbat Morning at Temple Beth El, Temple Beth El, Stamford, CT.
Welcome to Shabbat: A Guide to the Service, Beth El Synagogue Center,
New Rochelle, NY
Welcome, Temple Emanu-El, Providence, RI
A Guide to Shabbat Morning, Temple Emanuel, Newton Centre, MA
The most significant portions of the text of this guide are not the original work
of the Editor. They have been extracted from the publications listed below. We have
chosen not to employ the formal citations that are appropriate and necessary in a
scholarly work because they would be a distraction from the purpose of this guide. We
humbly acknowledge the wisdom and insights which are the precious gifts of
the authors listed below. We are grateful for their profound contributions to this
work, which are its foundations.
Cohen, Abraham. Everyman’s Talmud. New York: Schocken Books, 1995.
Donim, Hayim Halevy. To Pray as a Jew. Basic Books, 1980.
_____. To Be a Jew. Basic Books, 1972.
Emet Ve-Emunah: Statement of Principles of Conservative Judaism. The Jewish Theological Seminary
of America, The Rabbinical Assembly and the United Synagogue of America, 1988
Etz Hayim: Torah and Commentary. New York: The Rabbinical Assembly and the United
Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, 2001.
Hammer, Reuven. Or Hadash: A Commentary on Siddur Sim Shalom for Shabbat and Festivals. New
York: The Rabbinical Assembly and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism,
Hertz, J. H. The Pentateuch and HafTorahs. 2d ed. London: Soncino Press, 1979.
JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1999.
Klagsbrun, Francine. Voices of Wisdom: Jewish Ideals and Ethics for Everyday Living. Boston:
David R. Godine, Publisher, A Nonpareil Book, 1990.
Klein, Isaac. A Guide to Jewish Religious Practice. Supplement by Joel Roth. New York: The
Jewish Theological Seminary, 1992.
Millgram, Abraham. Jewish Worship. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1971.
Neusner, Jacob. Judaism: An Introduction. New York: Penguin Books, 2002.
Prager, Dennis and Joseph Telushkin. The Nine Questions People Ask about Judaism. New York:
Simon & Schuster, A Touchstone Book, 1981.
Schorsch, Ismar. The Sacred Cluster: The Core Values of Conservative Judaism. The Jewish
Theological Seminary of America.
Siddur Sim Shalom for Shabbat and Festivals. New York: The Rabbinical Assembly and the United
Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, 1998.
Siegel, Richard, Michael Strassfeld and Sharon Strassfeld. The First Jewish Catalogue.
Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 1973.
Steinsaltz, Adin. A Guide to Jewish Prayer. New York: Schocken Books, 2000.
Torah -- our Bible and yours -- commands us, “Love your fellow as yourself…”
(Leviticus 19:19) along with a multitude of other rules that dictate respectful, decent,
generous behavior in our daily interactions with others. Many individuals obey these
dicta, which are embedded in our collective consciousness from both religious and
secular teachings. Most persons, Jew and non-Jew, believer and non-believer, who
conduct themselves in accord with these teachings believe they are “good persons,”
and indeed they are! But being a good person does not make one a good Jew.
For the Jew it is not enough to be a “good person.” A Jew, by virtue of the Covenant,
is required to be a “good person,” which means to be a Jew aware of the
commandments, to accept the commandments as absolute personal obligations. It
means to be a good person precisely because one is commanded to as a Jew. Nanuet
Hebrew Center congregants who are here with you today will be reminded of these
commandments in the course of the service - reminders that are essential, given the
daily challenge of living a life that aspires to a measure of holiness. That is why being
here is important to us. Obviously you also are here today because there is something
happening that is important to you. Your presence is an encouragement to us to
persist in our journey to be better Jews and better persons. For this, we thank you.
Page numbers are from Siddur Sim Shalom for Shabbat and Festivals
Morning Blessings (Birkhot Ha-Shahar) pp. 65-81
Psalm and Song (P’sukei D’Zimra) pp. 83-106
Call to Prayer (Bar’khu) p. 107
First Blessing before the Sh’ma pp. 107-110
Second Blessing before the Sh’ma p.111
The recitation of the Sh’ma (K’riat Sh’ma) and its verses pp. 112-113
Third Blessing of the Sh’ma pp. 113 -114
Repetition of the Amidah with the Kedushah p. 116
HALLEL pp. 132-137
TORAH SERVICE pp. 139-154
Remove the Torah from the Ark p. 141
Torah and Haftarah readings
Prayer for healing (Mi she-berarakh) p. 141
Return the Torah to the Ark p. 153
Kedushah p. 157
Ein Keloheinu p. 182
Aleinu p. 183
Mourner’s Kaddish p. 184
Adon Olam p. 187