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Services and religious activities
Shabbat and festival services are a joyful occasion for meeting friends, singing and praying together, and learning Torah. In accordance with long-standing traditions, a lay person can lead the prayers, and it is standard practice for two or more people to share this task between them. A gabbai or ‘warden’ keeps everything on track and makes the announcements.
The ritual committee
To co-ordinate these roles and plan for services throughout the year, a group of volunteers meets occasionally and liaises with visiting rabbis or rabbinical students. Any member of the Synagogue is eligible to join this group – it’s often called the Ritual Committee – and to lead services, join the wardens’ rota, and contribute their suggestions and ideas.
As we are a Reform congregation, service leaders have a good deal of freedom to vary the content and style of the service by including or skipping certain prayers, reading in Hebrew or English, choosing favourite tunes or introducing new ones. No two weeks are the same, and you don’t need to be any kind of ‘expert’ – or a member of the committee – to lead a service with sincerity and enjoyment. If you’d like to try, we can offer support and training opportunities; you can start by leading just a half or a quarter of the service, or even a single paragraph, teaming up with a more experienced lay reader or sometimes a Rabbi. You might like to mark an anniversary, a family occasion, or some significant event; or maybe you just feel ready to give it a go. Ask anyone who’s leading the service or acting as warden: we’ll be more than happy to welcome you onto the team or help you plan for a one-off event.
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