Now in its second year, Temple Israel’s “Experience Shabbat” program, the goal of which is to make its children more comfortable with the Shabbat morning service, is fast approaching.
“We tend to have a lower attendance, particularly in young families, when it comes to Saturday morning services,” said Religious School Principal Ariella Lowensohn. “And so this gives the children an opportunity to feel comfortable with the Shabbat morning service before they’re up there on the bimah for their Bar or Bat Mitzvah.”
On two Saturday mornings this year, October 13 and November 17, and two in the spring, students in Grades 3-6 will attend a class taught by Lowensohn and Rabbi Josh Brown, followed by a special, educational Shabbat service, separate from the main congregation.
“First we’re going to do a little bit of teaching and then we’re going to do a service, but it’s a teaching service, so it will be in parallel with the regular service,” Lowensohn said.
The classes will begin at 9:30 each of the Saturday mornings, with the teaching service to follow. Bagels and juice will be served and parents are welcome to attend with their children.
“It’s going to be kind of an unusual service,” Lowensohn said, “which is why we’re doing it separately. There will be the opportunity to ask questions, which you normally don’t have during services. It will demystify the process a little bit and hopefully allow the kids to understand and feel like they’re part of the service as opposed to being just passive viewers. The real goal is for kids to ‘experience’ shabbat and feel like they’re a part of it.
“We normally gear our services for an older age group than eight to 12 [year olds],” Lowensohn added. “This gives us an opportunity to gear it toward this age group. We’ll be able to explain things, we’ll be able to emphasize certain things that wouldn’t necessarily be emphasized in a regular service.”
Attendance at the two “Experience Shabbat” sessions count as part of Religious School and as such, there will be no classes for Grades 3-6 on the following Sundays, October 14 and November 18. The other grades, kindergarten through second, will have class as usual.