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When is the Best Time to Arrive at Services?

Laurie Goldman

Shabbat services at Dorshei Tzedek begin at 9:45 on Saturday mornings. The liturgy flows according to our tradition’s attunement to the rhythms of our awakening souls and the narrative of personal and collective gratitude, praise, and redemption. But since the service is not a performance, it’s perfectly appropriate to arrive at any time. You’ll be greeted with a smile whenever you arrive and service leaders will announce page numbers in the prayer book so you can join in with those who are already present.

If you arrive at 9:45 you’ll get to help warm up the sanctuary with blessings of gratitude and songs of praise. With each of the morning blessings, more people arrive. More voices amplify the joyfulness and allow us to sing rounds and harmonies interspersed with moments of contemplative silence.

The Morning Service (known as Shacharit or “of the dawn”) begins at around 10:15. This is the part of the service that includes the Barechu that calls the congregation together for formal worship. It’s the first prayer that requires a minyan, a gathering of at least 10 adult Jews. So arriving by that time makes reciting that prayer possible.

If you arrive a little a little later, you can recite the Shema – the iconic “Listen, Israel!” – and sing about crossing the Red Sea into freedom with its resonances for wherever we are in our own life journeys.

If the congregation is standing in silence when you arrive, they may be reciting the Amidah prayer or appreciating the opportunity for silent reflection or meditation. You are welcome to choose any of these options as your point of entry.

The Torah Service typically starts at about 10:45. That’s a good time to arrive if you want to hear the chanting of the Torah (which also requires a minyan). To hear the davar Torah and participate in the discussion about the week’s Torah portion, be sure to arrive by 11:15 or so.

If you are in mourning or remembering a loved one on the anniversary of her or his death, you can plan to arrive by about 11:50 for the Mourners’ Kaddish.

You can still be part of the Shabbat community if you arrive close to 12:00 for a rousing concluding song and the blessings over wine or grape juice and challah.

Of course, it’s also fine to come in time for lunch! Conversations over bagels and cream cheese (and delicious gluten- and dairy-free options) are an equally holy part of celebrating Shabbat in community.

Fri, December 8 2023 25 Kislev 5784