Services at Mishkan Ha’am are an opportunity for us to come together as a community in order to connect with Judaism in a meaningful way. We create a comfortable space that allows us to take a break from the stresses of the work week. Several times a month, we offer Friday evening and Shabbat morning services. Our services honor the spirit of Shabbat with communal singing, prayer, space for meditation, torah reading and discussion, and sometimes, even dancing. We include prayers from the traditional liturgy that are meaningful to us, along with some that are more modern interpretive versions. Since our backgrounds vary greatly, from those with no previous Jewish education to those who have attended yeshiva, we offer the text in Hebrew, English, and transliteration, so that all can participate fully. Our services have a give-and-take quality in which questions are encouraged. Everyone, no matter their age or level of knowledge, is listened to with respect.
In addition to Shabbat services, holiday celebrations, and educational programs, we come together, usually after a brief Havdallah (end of Shabbat) service on a Saturday night, for cultural programming. Programs have included book discussions, folk dancing, movies/discussions, guest speakers, and programs related to Martin Luther King’s Birthday and Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day). These programs are planned by our Creative Havdallah Committee however ideas for programs come from all of our members.
We recognize that everyone’s spirit is nurtured in different ways, so in addition to our more traditional Reconstructionist services, we offer a variety of opportunities to suit various spiritual needs. We gather for chanting services (“Jewish kirtan”), in which a call and response form of prayer is accompanied by drumming. We offer meditation services, in which guided meditation in a quiet space allows us to be both within ourselves and within a like-minded community at the same time. We have hiking services, where we hike in a natural setting, making stops at significant spots along the trail to tell a story or sing a song. We have labyrinth walks, in which our rabbi offers a teaching to meditate upon as we navigate the maze. And we are always open to new ideas. The rich spiritual life at Mishkan Ha’am is the result of our continuous effort to provide diverse ways for discovering the wonders of our Jewish tradition.