Our Shabbat services are held on Saturdays at 10 AM. Services are approximately two hours long. There is also a dairy luncheon immediately following.
Our service at Congregation Zera Avraham adheres to the ancient pattern of traditional Jewish liturgy. You can follow along in the prayer book, called a siddur.
Most of the prayers will be recited in Hebrew. In those sections where the congregation is welcome to sing along with the cantor, the siddur will include a transliterated version of the prayer in the column to the right of the Hebrew text. Our siddur has translations of all the prayers recited in Hebrew, so you will not miss any of the meaning, even if you are not fluent in Hebrew!
For those of our visitors that are not familiar with Shabbat services, here is a guide to the key units of the service:
This is a period of spiritual preparation for the service proper. It begins with a blessing and ends with a blessing. In between are biblical texts and contemporary songs, all declaring the glory of the God of Israel, who is also the Father of Messiah Yeshua.
Borchu (Call to Prayer)
The official service begins with the solemn call to prayer.
These words, taken from Deuteronomy 6, are central to every Jewish morning and evening service. They express Israel's faith in the God who chose us in love, and also represent Israel's response of loving allegiance. The Shema is preceded by two blessings, and followed by a third.
This ancient prayer has its origins in the sacrificial service of the Jerusalem Temple, in which Yeshua and his disciples participated. It is recited silently, in a standing position, the posture taken by the kohanim (priests) as they performed their temple service. If you do not know the Hebrew prayers and are not fluent in the Hebrew language, pray this section in English. When worshipers are finished with the silent Amidah, they are seated, only to stand again for the Reader's Repetition in Hebrew. All may be seated after the solemn chanting of the Kedushah, inserted in the Reader's Repetition of the third blessing. (The Shabbat Amidah contains seven blessings.)
The Torah Service
The summit of the morning Shabbat liturgy is the Torah service, in which the revelation at Sinai is dramatically reenacted. The scroll of the Torah (the first five books of the Hebrew bible) is removed from the Ark, and carried in procession around the synagogue. A section of the weekly Torah portion is then read, followed by the Haftorah (a reading from the Prophets) and a reading from the Besorah (Good News) of Messiah Yeshua. The Torah service concludes with the return of the scroll of the Torah to the Ark. This is followed by a short D'var Torah (sermon or discussion).
Every Jewish service concludes with this prayer, in which Israel acknowledges its special privileges and obligations, and prays that the entire world may set aside idolatry and come to know the one, true, and living God, Maker of heaven and earth. As Messianic Jews, we believe that this prayer will be realized through the redemptive work of Messiah Yeshua, the light of the nations and the glory of his people Israel.
This prayer is repeated at various parts of the service. It functions as a bridge between key units, and binds them together by praising the holiness of God's Name, and praying for the coming of God's rule in the world. Many of the expressions in this Aramaic text resemble parts of the prayer that Yeshua taught his disciples. At the end of the service the Kaddish is recited a final time by those who are mourning the loss of a close relative.
You are welcome to visit us on Shabbat at Congregation Zera Avraham. We pray that you will be enriched by the experience, and will encounter the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah, who sent the promised Messiah to Israel and raised him from the dead, and beckons us all to live in the radiant light of Yeshua's divine Presence.