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Shabbat at Har El

Our doors are open to all who seek to worship, learn and serve the community.

We join together for prayer and learning every Saturday morning at 10am. 

On Friday nights in winter, we hold our livestream and zoom service 4pm. You can join through a zoom room or watch on our Facebook page. Please watch our calendar for occasional in-person Friday night services.

A Guide to Shabbat Morning Services

A Guide to Shabbat Morning Services

At Har El, we use the Siddur Sim Shalom for Shabbat and Holidays. This guide to the service can help you understand what happens during our prayers.

Pesukei D’zimra: Verses of Song (p. 83-106)

We begin our prayers with selections from psalms and other poems to provide a spiritual "warm-up" for the rest of the service. The final prayer in this section is the Nishmat Kol Chai on page 104 of the blue siddur prayer book, Sim Shalom. This is a prayer that invites us to listen to the sounds of nature to find the prayer of the natural world echoing through the world.

Shacharit: The Morning Service (p. 107-114)

The morning service, shacharit, begins with the call to prayer, Barkhu, on page 107. The shaliach tzibbur, prayer leader, will recite the first line, the congregation will respond with the second line, and the shaliach tzibbur will repeat this line.

The first part of shacharit contains the recitation of the Sh’ma surrounded by three blessings which reflect the themes of creation, revelation, and redemption.

The first blessing is the Yotzer Or. It celebrates the daily experience of seeing the work of creation each and every day. The author of the prayer connects the experience of seeing the sunrise to imagining angels praising God. We sing a description of this in the poem El Adon on page 108.

The prayer concludes on page 110 with the hope that the light we see in this world can inspire us to make the world a better place.

The second blessing is the Ahavah Rabbah on page 111. It describes God’s unbounded love for Israel as expressed through the giving of the sources of tradition, and how we can learn about that love through study and fulfilling mitzvot (commandments).

For those who are wearing a tallit (prayer shawl), it is traditional at the end of the blessing as we prepare to recite the Sh’ma to gather the four tzitzit (fringes on the corners of the tallit) into the left hand during the lines that pray for the safety of Jewish communities in the four corners of the earth.

The Sh’ma on page 112 acts as the basic declaration of monotheism and contains the acceptance of the Jewish commandments. It contains three paragraphs: Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Deuteronomy 11:13-21, and Numbers 15:37-41. It is traditional to cover the eyes while reciting the first line as a sign of focus. The first paragraph emphasizes our need to constantly think about our relationship to God. In the second paragraph, we express the belief that God responds to our actions. The third paragraph identifies the fringes of the tzitzit as a constant reminder of our responsibilities and mentions the exodus from Egypt.

It is traditional to kiss the tzitzit during the last paragraph at each mention of the word "tzitzit." The act of kissing them shows our focus while reciting the Sh'ma.

The final blessing of this section describes the way God brought the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. On page 114, we sing the words of Mi Khamokha which is from the poem that the Israelites sang as they crossed the Sea of Reeds.

The Amidah: The Standing Prayer (p. 115b-120)

In Judaism, we blend personal and communal prayer through the recitation of a series of blessings called the Amidah. This prayer is recited while standing with the feet together to resemble the descriptions of angels in the prophetic books of the Bible.

Most weeks, we begin the section by reciting the first three blessings together on page 115b-116. The first blessing celebrates the long-standing connection between God and the Jewish people by evoking the relationship between God and our ancestors descended from Abraham and Sarah who established the Jewish covenant with God.

The second blessing describes God’s power but also reminds us that we have the responsibility to help others by imitating God through healing the sick and helping the poor.

The third blessing, the Kedushah, is a prayer that describes God's holiness. It contains verses from the prophets that describe ecstatic visions of God. These verses are connected by short passages that express the desire to feel God’s presence. Most weeks, we continue in silent prayer after this blessing.

The next blessing describes the importance of Shabbat, and the final blessings contain expressions of thanksgiving and hopes for peace.

This section concludes with Kaddish Shalem on page 138.

The Torah Service (p. 139-154)

Before we read from the Torah, we remove the scroll from the ark and march it around the sanctuary. The prayers evoke praise of God and re-enact God's presence leading the Israelites through the wilderness. Once the Torah is resting on the reading table, you may be seated.

The reading is divided into seven sections called Aliyot. The Gabbai will announce the appropriate page for each reading. A congregant is honoured by being called up to the Torah and reciting a blessing before and after each section. Sometimes this is to mark a special occasion, so they may receive a prayer or blessing from the Rabbi after the reading.

Before the final reading, the congregation recites a prayer for those who are ill. After the Hebrew prayer, we sing a contemporary setting found in the inside cover of the Humashim.

After the Torah reading, a congregant lifts the Torah scroll to show the congregation the reading. Another congregant wraps the Torah in its traditional coverings.  The last person to have blessed the Torah reads a section called the Haftarah from the prophetic books of the Bible corresponding to the weekly Torah reading.

After this, we recite Psalm 145 on page 151 along with communal prayers for our country, Israel, and peace on page 148.

We then return the Torah scroll in the same way that we took it out by marching it around the sanctuary evoking the image of God's presence that accompanied the Children of Israel through the wilderness.

After the scroll is returned to the ark, the Rabbi, the student celebrating their b’nei mitzvah, or an honoured designee will give an uplifting sermon.

Musaf: The Additional Service (p. 155-187)​​​​​​​

After the sermon, there is another Amidah in remembrance of the extra offerings on Shabbat in ancient times. As we did during shacharit, we recite the first two blessings together and responsively recite an extended Kedushah on page 157. After the Kedushah, we continue with silent, individual prayer through page 161 and conclude the section with Kaddish Shalem on page 181.

The concluding prayers include the song Ein Keloheinu on page 182, the prayer Aleinu on page 183, and Mourners' Kaddish on page 184. After announcements, we conclude with the song Adon Olam on page 187.


After services we join for a celebratory meal. We begin by declaring the meal to be a special Shabbat meal by reciting Kiddush, a blessing over a cup of wine, and then we ritually wash our hands with a blessing and begin the meal with Hamotzi, the blessing over bread. We will conclude the meal together with Birkat Hamazon, Grace After Meals.

Tue, June 25 2024 19 Sivan 5784