Shabbat & Holidays

Shabbat at Beth Israel offers an opportunity to celebrate the Sabbath on both Friday night and Saturday morning.

Services are in Hebrew and English; our Sim Shalom prayerbooks include English translations. We primarily use the JPS Etz Hayim chumash for Torah and Haftorah readings and commentary.

Kabbalat Shabbat

Services on Friday evenings are bright with candlelight and song; starting time depends on the time of year. Please see our Service Schedule.

Although Beth Israel follows traditional practice of singing without instrumental accompaniment, on occasional Friday nights we start early, before candle-lighting, for a musical introduction to the Sabbath. A favorite special event is Cocktails and Kabbalat Shabbat, which includes—you guessed it—a great spread before services.

Shabbat Morning Services

We begin at 9:00 a.m. and finish about Noon, but you can drop in at any time. The service is divided into four parts:

P’sukeh d’Zimrah—a selection of psalms that sets the mood and prepares the mind for prayer.
Shacharit—the first prayer service, including blessings and recitation of the Sh’ma (statement of Jewish belief in the One) and Amidah (the heart of Jewish prayer).
Torah Service—reading of the week’s portion from the Torah (Five Books of Moses) and Haftorah (Prophets). We read the entire Torah portion for the week (full kriah).
Musaf—the second, or “after” prayer service, including the Musaf Amidah and Mourner’s Kaddish.

In-between the Torah Service and Musaf, our Rabbi delivers a sermon or leads text study. Our Cantor leads services two to three times a month; congregants lead when the Cantor is not available. We are an egalitarian religious community; both men and women are counted and participate in leading services and chanting Torah.

Following services each Shabbat, we all join for a Kiddush luncheon and the chance to shmooze and catch up with each other. Visitors are always welcome.

Several times during the year, we celebrate Shabbat in Shul, a day filled with alternative prayer and study opportunities. This is a great chance to learn from clergy and congregants about a range of subjects, join in Jewish meditation, play some board games, visit and relax. There’s special programming for kids and teens, too. Our Shabbat Plus programs offer a study session after lunch. See Calendar of Events for details.

Holiday Services

On the High Holidays, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, our extended services, led by our Rabbi and Cantor, provide an uplifting opportunity for prayer and introspection to begin the Jewish New Year. You’ll find details in the fall on our Service Schedule.

For the major festivals—Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret, Simchat Torah, Passover and Shavuot—we follow a similar schedule as for Shabbat. Minor holidays—Hanukkah and Purim—as well as the intermediate days of Passover and Sukkot, are marked in our daily minyan services.

We host community observance of Lag B’Omer, Tisha B’Av and Yom Ha’atzma’ut. Yom Hashoah observance rotates among Beth Israel, Temple Emanuel Sinai and Temple B’nai Shalom (Westborough); Beth Tikvah Synagogue (Westborough) also participates.