For the two-plus years since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, CHJ has never let our programs lapse. Zoom stepped in to keep us connected, with celebrations of Shabbat right through the summer and our Adult Ed programs offering another opportunity to listen, learn and discuss topics relevant to Humanistic Judaism. Read more about Adult Education here. Joining virtually on Friday evenings and Sunday mornings via our computers, tablets and phones has proved a boon to our members; it’s almost like being there in person.
As usual, on Friday evenings we begin with a Shabbat service, often custom written for the topic that follows. The service is distributed to members in advance. (Many Shabbat and other services are available on this website under Resources/Services.) For attendees, the candles, wine and challah are optional! We’ve learned that Zoom doesn’t like it when we sing or read in unison; different transmission speeds make us sound weird!
No question that we do miss greeting each other in person. But there’s a silver lining in services by Zoom and that is that people — members, former members who have moved away, and prospective members — can participate. The speaker at our Yom HaShoah service was longtime member and Holocaust survivor Lou Reens from his home in Florida! The photo at the top of the page is a screen shot of just some of the people who attended that evening.
During normal times, our Congregation typically gathers for twice a month on Friday evenings usually in a member’s home. There we set aside the cares of the week, catch up with friends, and enjoy a program meant to enlighten and entertain. Most such gatherings begin with a Shabbat Welcome Ceremony, one of several from which the host family can choose. Services may include a candle-lighting, short readings, and songs, and conclude with an invitation to share life cycle news.
We also come together on occasion to take leave of Shabbat with a beautiful Havdalah ceremony. However busy the work week, taking time to usher in the Sabbath — or to bid it farewell—provides a sense of community, a link to Jewish tradition, and a measure of inner peace.
Our Shabbat ceremonies have evolved over many years and bear the hand of many authors. In the spring of 2012, Lucy Katz, chair of the Ritual Committee, led the way to update and consolidate our many services into a handful that best suit the ways our members celebrate Shabbat — at home with family, in small CHJ get-togethers, and at large community events.
It was to be the last of her countless contributions to CHJ ritual… and to the soul and substance of our Congregation. We offer this collection of Shabbat and Havdalah services, along with the song sheet that follows, in loving memory of Lucy.
The CHJ Ritual Committee