Creating Worship Experiences at Temple Beth El by Rabbi Asher Knight

As a rabbi, I believe that the communal prayer experience begins with the individual, and the potential for individual spiritual growth and transformation within community. I also believe that experience of the transcendent is strengthened by a sense of being rooted in community. The stronger our community relates with each other, the more transcendent the experience. This is one reason we are working to strengthen the relationships in our congregation. Our sense of connectedness is deeply tied to our spiritual experience.

I also believe that communal prayer should be both vibrant and an oasis. The music should stir our souls. The messages should challenge our ideas. And, worship is also a “time out” from and a “lifting above” the often-chaotic din of daily life.

We should feel inspired and challenged and strengthened as a result of worshipping at Temple Beth El. On Shabbat, we aim to provide a place and time apart where people can experience the transcendent and realize the potential for sacred encounter. Like an oasis – the spring, the palm trees and their refreshment are beautiful in and of themselves. But they also help prepare us to resume the journey of the everyday.

Over the past year and a half, our clergy and Ritual and Worship Committee – chaired by Shannon Alpert – has listened to Temple members share their desires, challenges, and questions about our Shabbat services. Some people want new music, and some want the melodies they grew up with. Some love the use of the projections, some want a break from digital overload. What is clear, however, is that Shabbat serves many functions in our community: celebration, memory, tranquility, joyous song, quiet comfort, community and individual reflection.

Many people have expressed challenges with service times due to Charlotte traffic patterns. Just getting to Shabbat evening services can be a real struggle. We hear you.

Temple’s Ritual and Worship Committee recently reported to Temple’s Board upcoming changes to our worship schedule. We don’t have a perfect solution, but we are making adjustments. There likely isn’t a “perfect” time for services with the diversity of desires in our congregation. We aim to provide worship that helps us to find within ourselves the wells of goodness, compassion, kindness and peace that uplifts our souls and connects us to God. Below, you will find our new service schedule and descriptions.

The following changes will begin in June:

Shabbat Service Schedule
Shabbat worship is the highlight of our week, where music lifts our souls and meditative moments bring us to a sense of mindful awareness.

FRIDAY NIGHT WORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

1st Friday Night of Each Month

  • 5:15 pm Preneg Shabbat – with food and drinks to welcome Shabbat
  • 5:30 pm SongFest – Shabbat Songs for Families with Young Children
  • 6:00 pm Shabbat Evening Service for Families with School-age Children – an interactive and engaging service
  • 8:00 pm Shabbat Evening Service – a contemplative service
  • Oneg Shabbat following services

All Other Friday Nights

  • 5:45 pm Preneg Shabbat – with food and drinks to welcome Shabbat.
  • 6:30 pm Shabbat Evening Service

SATURDAY MORNING WORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

On most Saturdays, our Shabbat morning service is led by our B’nei Mitzvah in the Blumenthal Sanctuary. The service includes prayer, music, and learning. On Saturdays without a B’nei Mitzvah, we hold services in the Archer Chapel. If you are a guest at a bar or bat mitzvah, we warmly welcome you on this special, joyous day for both the family and our larger Jewish community. Our B’nei Mitzvah leads our community in worship. The B’nei Mitzvah symbolizes the coming of age of a Jewish child, and celebrates a deep commitment to Judaism through study, spiritual practice, and tikkun olam, or making the world a better place.

Continuing Shabbat Morning Worship Times

  • 9:30 am Torah Study in the Dale & Larry Polsky Beit Midrash
  • 11:00 am Shabbat Morning Service

Tot Shabbat – (9:00 am start time begins in July)

  • 9:00 am – Once a month, we have a special Shabbat morning celebration geared towards pre-school age children and their families. The service is filled with singing, dancing, laughter and prayer. Join other families with young children to explore the wonder and value of Jewish community. Stay after each service to socialize, nosh, and participate in our monthly craft time.

Please check our website calendar each week for upcoming service times.