Weekly Shabbat services in the sanctuary are lay-led and egalitarian. They begin at 9 am and typically end by 12:15 pm. Worshippers come at various times, most arriving by 10:30 am. A typical Shabbat morning service draws 70-90 participants of all ages. Services are in Hebrew and involve lots of singing. The style of the service is traditional, with a repetition of the amidah (silent prayer) and a full weekly Torah reading.
The weekly Torah portion is chanted in Hebrew from the scroll by youth, adults, and Rabbi Berkenwald. Over the course of one year, we read the entire Torah.
There are two primary books that are used in our service, both of which are available at the entrance to the sanctuary. Our prayerbook, Siddur Sim Shalom for Shabbat and Festivals has a blue cover. The Etz Chayim Chumash, containing the weekly Torah portion and Haftarah reading (from the Prophets) has a red cover. For those who do not read Hebrew, copies are available of a fully transliterated prayer book, Siddur Eit Ratzon.
Rabbi Berkenwald, or an occasional guest speaker, delivers a sermon each week at approximately 11:15 am. Past sermons can be found at Rabbi Berkenwald’s blog. Guest Divrei Torah are published when available.
Congregation Sinai’s sanctuary is incredibly kid-friendly. Areas equipped with pillows, books, and games are located in the back of the room, where children can sit and read or play quietly. Parents with rambunctious children or nursing infants can use the “Parents’ Room,” which is equipped with a one-way mirror for privacy. Built-in speakers make it possible to continue to participate in the service.
In keeping with Jewish tradition, all males are asked to cover their heads throughout the synagogue on Shabbat. Females who choose are encouraged to cover their heads as well. Everyone who comes up to the bimah (dais) is asked to cover his/her head as a sign of respect for the Torah. Jewish males and many Jewish women wear a tallit, prayer shawl. Feel free to bring your own, or borrow one of ours from the tallit rack in the foyer outside the sanctuary.