Shabbat at Temple Emanuel is truly one of the cornerstones of our community. Every Friday and Saturday we come together to take a break from the rest of the week and mark this sacred time in our calendar. We offer several different Shabbat services. Please check our calendar to see what is happening this week at Temple Emanuel.
The Sabbath (or Shabbat, as it is called in Hebrew) is one of the best known and least understood of all Jewish observances. For those who celebrate Shabbat, it is a precious gift from God, a day of great joy eagerly awaited throughout the week, a time when we can set aside all of our weekday concerns and devote ourselves to higher pursuits. In Jewish literature, poetry and music, Shabbat is described as a bride or queen, as in the popular Shabbat hymn Lecha Dodi Likrat Kallah (come, my beloved, to meet the [Sabbath] bride). It is said "more than Israel has kept Shabbat, Shabbat has kept Israel."
Shabbat is the most important ritual observance in Judaism. It is the only ritual observance instituted in the Ten Commandments. It is also the most important special day, even more important than Yom Kippur. This is clear from the fact that more aliyahs (opportunities for congregants to be called up to the Torah) are given on Shabbat than on any other day.
Shabbat is primarily a day of rest and spiritual enrichment. The word "Shabbat" comes from the root Shin-Bet-Tav, meaning to cease, to end, or to rest.
Shabbat is not specifically a day of prayer. Although we do pray on Shabbat, and spend a substantial amount of time in synagogue praying, prayer is not what distinguishes Shabbat from the rest of the week. In modern America, we take the five-day work-week so much for granted that we forget what a radical concept a day of rest was in ancient times. The weekly day of rest has no parallel in any other ancient civilization. In ancient times, leisure was for the wealthy and the ruling classes only, never for the serving or laboring classes. In addition, the very idea of rest each week was unimaginable.
Shabbat involves two interrelated commandments: to remember (zachor) the Sabbath, and to observe (shamor) the Sabbath.