At Shaare Torah, we have several different modes for welcoming Shabbat.
The centerpiece of our Shabbat experience is our weekly Shabbat morning service, which begins at 9:30 AM and generally concludes around noon. The Torah reading service, during which life cycle events generally are celebrated, begins at 10:15; a Torah discussion usually occurs at 11:10, and Musaf and concluding prayers at 11:30.
On many weeks we have additional programs, such as children’s services, a special breakfast before the Torah reading, study or meditation opportunities, or other special programs. During the summer we hold a special “Summer Kiddush Series,” with themed snacks or lunch following each service; during the rest of the year, there is also always a snack or lunch as well.
Children are always warmly welcomed at Shaare Torah. At 10:15, younger children (through age 7) are encouraged to come up when the ark is opened, receive a small Torah, and march in our Torah procession. A story usually follows. There are quiet Shabbat-appropriate toys and books available in the sanctuary, and also a play space on the street level. Older kids are encouraged to be in the service as much as possible, attend programs appropriate to their age, or take a break in our youth lounge on the third floor.
Families have the option of choosing to celebrate a bar/bat mitzvah on Shabbat afternoon. Besides the Minha afternoon service, there is the option of including an evening service and Havdalah, which concludes Shabbat, if the timing is appropriate.
The service of separating Shabbat from the rest of the week has always provided Shaare Torah with a great opportunity to offer engaging experiences. Many of our youth programs that occur on Saturday nights begin with a short and fun service. At our 5th grade retreat, many of our families will point to our Havdalah as a key aspect of making the experience meaningful and relevant.