Festivals, Prayers & Services
SABBATH MORNING SERVICE
The complete set of 5 Shabbat services has now been published in book form on Amazon in full colour. The book is in A4 format, has 200 pages, and includes 20 colour photos and drawings. This includes descriptions and drawings of a ‘virtual synagogue’, to give you something to imagine in your mind’s eye each Shabbat.
A black & white edition is also available:
If you have any comments on the prayers, or you think there is something that could be improved, please email me at email@example.com
Pre-service Music (right click on link to open YouTube video in a new window, then return to this page to continue service):
Ani Qatonti (“I am unworthy”)
(‘The Prayer of Jacob’, Gen 32:11-12,
sung by Ofir Ben Sheetreet)
A. WELCOME ADDRESS
Boqer tov, ve-Shabbat shalom le-kulkhem – Good morning everyone, and a Sabbath of Peace to all of you. It gives me enormous pleasure to welcome you all once again to our “virtual” congregation. I hope you all had a good six days, and that this Sabbath will prepare us for the week ahead. Let us remind ourselves that our God set apart this day as a day to refresh ourselves, to be set free from all our labours, and to remember the Covenant God made with the whole House of Israel for all time.
Let us draw near to the Holy One of Israel YHVH our Redeemer, who is our life, our hope and our salvation. Let us rest this hour in the warmth of God’s holy Presence, and meditate on the wonder of God’s ways.
1. CALL TO WORSHIP
My friends, beloved sons and daughters of God, let us come together and proclaim that God is One; that God is our One Sovereign Majesty, who has established wondrous laws, upon which the whole universe exists; that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is God alone, and beside our God there is no other; that our God is the One Creator of our souls, the mother and father of all that have breath and being; that our God is the One supreme confidant, whose friendship and golden voice of comfort we shall ever cherish.
Let us therefore imitate our God, who is One: let our hearts and minds be as one in prayer upon this holy Sabbath; let our hopes and aspirations as citizens of Gods kingdom be one, as we work with diligence and reverence towards our part in its fulfilment; and let our voices be as one, never to be divided, as we step forward, in calm and reverent dignity, to follow the Way of YHVH.
Therefore I offer you this hour of prayer, that we might join together to welcome the Presence of our God.
R/ Then may the storms of our hearts be calmed, and may all words spoken in reverence give nourishment to our souls.
2. CALL ON GOD TO HEAR OUR PRAYERS
O YHVH, You who are the One true God, and who turns to hear even the smallest voice, hear the prayers we shall offer this hour. For never was it known that anyone called to You in prayer, and You did not answer; never was it known, that a soul called upon You for good counsel, and You did not advise them; and never was it known, that an empty heart needed to be replenished, and the power of Your Holy Presence did not fill them to overflowing. Assured then by this confidence, we open our hearts and minds to You, that you might sanctify and bless them.
Enrol us by name in the list of those who will never be tempted away from you, and summon us to live Your ways forever.
R/ Hear our prayer O YHVH, and let our thoughts come before You.
3. KEEPING THE SABBATH
Thus spoke YHVH, as it is written in Torah:
akh et shabbtotay tishmoru,
ki ot hi beyni u-veyneykhem le-doroteykhem,
la-da’at ki ani YHVH
You shall observe my Sabbaths.
This will be a sign between Me and you for all the generations to come,
So that you may know that I am YHVH,
Who makes you holy.
4. THE SHEMA (long version)
shema yisrael, YHVH elohéinu, YHVH echad.
ve-ahávta et YHVH elohékha be-khol levávkha
Hear O Israel, YHVH is our God, YHVH alone.
And you shall love YHVH your God with all your heart and mind, with all your soul and with all your might.
Take to heart these instructions with which I charge you today. Impress them upon your children. Recite them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them like a sign on your hand, and let them be like a frontlet between your eyes; inscribe them on the doorposts of your house[s of prayer] and on your [city] gates. When YHVH your God brings you into the land He swore to your ancestors, to give you – a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant – then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget YHVH, who brought you out of Egypt, from a state of slavery. (Deut 6:4-12)
And it shall be, that if you really do obey my precepts which I am commanding you today – to love YHVH your God, and to serve God with all your heart and with all your soul, that I will grant rain for your land in its season – the autumn rain and the spring rain – so that you may gather in your cereal crop, your new wine and your fresh oil. I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied. Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them.
(Deut. 11:13 – 16)
Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. You will have these tassels to look at, so that you will remember all the commandments of YHVH, that you may obey them and not demean yourselves by going after the desires of your own hearts and eyes. Then you will remember to obey all my commandments and will be holy to your God. I am YHVH your God, who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am YHVH your God.
5. THE ABBUN D’BISHMAYYA (to hear this prayer, click here)
Let us pray for this day in our Heavenly Father’s care:
keyn af be’ar`a
hab lan yoma deyn umachra
ushbaq lan chobayn
heykhma de’af shebaqnan lechayyabayn
we’al ta`eylan lenisayuna
ela atseylan min bisha
Our Father – who is in Heaven
Sanctified be Your Name!
May your Kingdom be fulfilled!
May Your will be realised –
Just as it is in Heaven,
So also upon the Earth.
Our bread – which is from the earth,
Give us day by day.
And forgive us our sins,
Just as we should forgive our debtors.
And do not bring us to trial,
Rather deliver us from evil. Amein.
6. PRAYERS OF HUMILITY BEFORE GOD
mi khamókha ba’elim, YHVH?
mi khamókha ne’edar ba-qódesh,
Who is there like You among the pagan gods, O YHVH? Who is there like You, majestic in holiness, awesome in splendour, doing wonders?
Who existed before time first drew its breath?
Who spoke before the Sun ever shone its light?
Whose rising is greater than the movements of the whole Universe,
and whose being shines more brightly than all the stars in the heavens?
Who is more powerful than the wind and the storm,
mightier still than the thundering waves of the sea?
Whose power made the mountains rise?
And by whose command did the valleys carve their great walls?
You alone O YHVH, you alone!
Who performs great deeds at which a mortal can only marvel,
wondrous things too numerous to count?
Who raises the lowly to great heights,
and secures the dejected in victory?
Who traps the deceitful in the mire of their own schemings,
and always sets the innocent free?
Who delivers the righteous from harm,
and saves them from the despair of the pit?
Whose kingdom shall never be conquered,
nor bastions ever fall?
You alone, O YHVH, you alone!
7. PRAYERS OF PENITENCE AND FORGIVENESS
Night and day may your eyes be open toward those who pray with a penitent heart, those who speak your name alone on their lips. Hear the supplication of your servants, your people Israel, and all your sons and daughters on earth. Hear from your heaven, your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.
Forgive us, O YHVH, when we have failed to do your will, for we are human and not perfect.
Forgive us in what we have done, as well as in what we have failed to do. Forgive our hidden faults, our secret failings. Humble us once more with the power of your forgiveness.
And in your mercy once more, heal us.
Righteous YHVH, our Holy Teacher, if we have walked by a soul in need, then send us another, that we might fulfil the ways of your justice and charity.
If we have hit out in anger, by word or by force, then let us meet our accusers, that we might be reconciled to them.
And may your healing Presence seek out anything within us which you did not put there; cleanse us with your forgiveness, that we may once more be whole and complete.
Let us sit for a moment in silence, and consider the wrongs we have done this past week; and let us humbly ask God to forgive us of them, that we may be healed and be made whole.
(Sit for a few moments in contemplation and self-examination. Then say):
R/ Heavenly Father, merciful God, for these and for all past offences which I cannot recall, I am truly sorry and repent with all my heart. Have compassion on the imperfection of my soul; forgive me in Your merciful love, cleanse me of my iniquities by the fire of Your glory, and remember my sin no more.
Give us all the strength and courage to go forward from this day with firmer resolve to do only what is pleasing in Your sight, and to work all the more eagerly for the fulfilment of Your glorious kingdom.
Blessed be YHVH, who forgive the penitent heart. Amein
8. FIRST PRAYER OF BLESSING AND PRAISE
When we know and feel that you, our God, are always with us,
our hearts are moved to give you praise.
When we understand that you never leave our side, even in our darkest hour,
in every rising dawn we give you praise.
We bless you when we are saved from sickness and harm,
when we are restored to health and safety;
and we call on you in blessing when others make us endure hardship or trial.
We bless you for every morning,
for it is a new day to know you afresh;
And we bless you each evening,
that it has been another day spent in your care;
And we bless this holy Sabbath, that it is a day of peace,
to reverence you, and remember your covenant. Amein
9. SECOND PRAYER OF BLESSING AND PRAISE
Bless YHVH, o my soul, bless YHVH!
O YHVH our God, you are very great;
You clothe yourself with honour and majesty,
You wrap yourself with light, as with a garment,
And stretch forth the heavens like a tent.
You lay the beams of your chamber on the waters
And make the clouds your chariot,
Riding upon the wings of the wind.
You make the winds your messengers,
The flaming fire your minister,
Setting the earth on its foundations,
That it should not shake forever.
You have covered the face of the earth with the oceans,
As with a mantle,
And the snows you have placed on the mountains as a diadem.
Blessed are you, O YHVH, mighty and wondrous,
To behold your works is a blessing in itself. Amein
(Inspired by the Dead Sea Scrolls version of Psalm 104)
10. PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING
(click here for hymn, ‘Hodu la-Adonai ki tov’
Come, let us sing for joy to YHVH ;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before our God with thanksgiving
and extol God with music and song.
For YHVH is the great God,
Majestic Sovereign above all.
We will declare this forever:
We will sing praise to the God of Jacob.
We will give thanks to you, O God,
we will give thanks, for your Name is near –
whenever people speak of your wonderful deeds
Your Name is near.
Shout for joy to YHVH, all the earth!
Worship YHVH with gladness!
Come before God with joyful songs,
and know that YHVH is God!
It is YHVH who made us, and we are his people,
the sheep of his pasture.
Enter the gates of the Temple with thanksgiving
and the holy courts with praise;
give thanks to God and praise YHVHs name.
11. PRAYER TO YHVH, OUR SAVIOUR AND REDEEMER
Who created you, O Jacob?
Who formed you, O Israel?
Fear not, for I will redeem you;
I have summoned you by name;
you are mine.
When you pass through the water,
I will be with you;
Going through the rivers,
they will not overwhelm you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be scorched;
through the flame,
it will not burn you.
For I am YHVH your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour;
Do not be afraid, for I am with you –
everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.
You are my witnesses,
and my servants whom I have chosen,
So that you may know and believe me
and understand that I am He.
Before me no god was formed,
nor will there be one after me.
I, indeed I alone, am YHVH,
and apart from me there is no other saviour.
I have revealed and saved and proclaimed –
I alone, and not some foreign god among you.
You are my witnesses that I alone am God.
(extracts from Isaiah 43:1-12)
12. REMEMBRANCE OF GODS PROMISES
In the days to come,
the mountain of YHVH’s temple will be established
as chief among the mountains;
It will tower above the hills,
and all nations will stream to it with joy.
Many peoples will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of YHVH,
To the house of the God of Jacob.
That He may teach us his ways,
so that we might walk in his paths.”
Instruction will go out from Zion,
the word of YHVH from Jerusalem.
Thus He will judge between the nations,
and will settle disputes for many peoples.
They will beat their swords into ploughshares
and their spears into pruning shears.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore.
13. THE REWARDS OF KEEPING GODS COVENANT
Do not be afraid,
I shall be your Sovereign Protector;
the benefit to you will be enormous.
I will make you a great nation,
and I will bless you,
and I will magnify your reputation.
And you will be a blessing –
through you and your descendents,
all the clans of the earth will be blessed.
Behold, I will be with you and watch over you wherever you may go,
And I will bring you back to the Land.
Indeed, I will not leave you
until I have done what I have promised to do.
(Gen 15:1, 12:2-3, 28:14)
14. LITANY OF ALLEGIANCE TO YHVH AND HIS HOLY NAME
You are YHVH our God;
YHVH is Your Name throughout every generation,
the Name by which You are to be remembered forever.
You alone, O YHVH our God, shall we follow;
You alone shall we revere.
We will have no other gods before You.
We will not invoke the names of other gods;
we will not let them be heard on our lips.
For You are YHVH, that is Your Name;
your glory will not be given to any other name.
Blessed be the Holy Name of YHVH forever!
B. EXPOSITION OF THE TORAH
Blessed be YHVH our God, who has given us Torah to liberate us, to teach and guide us in holiness, and to sanctify those who follow YHVH the Redeemer. Amein.
This week’s sidra, according to the ancient, three-year, Galileo-Judean reading cycle that we follow, is from the Book of (see weekly email)
Blessed are you, O YHVH our God, for you have sanctified us with your instruction and teaching. Amein
C. THE READING FROM THE BOOKS OF THE PROPHETS
We bless you and praise you, O YHVH our God, that you continue to give us guidance, to explain your teachings, and call us back to the holiness of your ways. Amein.
The corresponding haftarah this week is from (see weekly email)
Blessed be YHVH forever! We bless you and give you honour O YHVH, for you light up our hearts with your guidance and teaching. Amein.
(see weekly emails)
15. PRAYER IN EXALTATION OF GODS HOLY NAME
Magnified and sanctified be His great Name throughout the Universe, which He created according to His will.
May His Kingdom come to reign in your lifetime, and in your days, and in the lifetime of the whole House of Israel quickly and soon.
May His great Name be blessed forever and ever! Amein.
Blest, glorified, extolled, exalted, celebrated, honoured, venerated, and praised be the Name of the Holy One, Blessed be He! Amein.
Even though He is far beyond all blessings, songs, exaltations, or honours that we can ever say.
May God send us a great peace from heaven, and upon the whole house of Israel.
(This is the original Aramaic prayer composed about 100 BCE. With Hebrew additions it only became a Mourners’ Prayer in the 12th century CE).
16. PETITIONARY PRAYERS
Let us now enrich and sanctify our prayer, by praying for the needs of others.
Look with compassion upon those who suffer, O YHVH, and heal their wounds. May those among the nations who currently endure the pain of war and civil conflict, may peace speedily come to them, so that they may be able to rebuild their lives, free from fear.
May those who have recently endured the cruel whims of Nature, and come through earthquake and fire, storm and flood, may they see your great power, not in the catastrophes that have befallen them, but rather in the aid, assistance and charity that rushes speedily to rescue them. Help them to rebuild their lives, and to heal them swiftly from the traumas they have suffered.
Watch over and care for those who struggle each day to find food, water, clothing, and shelter. Guide them towards courage and strength, and to the opportunity to improve their lives. Stir also the hearts of those in high position, that they might move the mountains that the poor alone cannot move.
Shelter those minorities around the world who are persecuted and suffer daily because of the religion they belong to, and who cannot express their faith openly, for fear of harassment by the state, or edicts of death from religious authorities. Protect also those who are oppressed by their own religions. O YHVH, God of liberty and free will, grant them freedom from their terrors and save them; and may we who have known persecution ourselves, may we never turn round and cause others to suffer because of their faith.
May those among the Jewish people who do not follow the Way we follow be blessed, and may their names be enrolled in the Book of Life; may they prosper, and may their names and the names of their descendants not be blotted out; may their wise men and women be found a place among the righteous, and may their holy ones be uplifted over the wicked, and be saved by the glory and power of YHVH. May they find peace, may they be protected from our common enemies, and may they not become lost or extinguished.
(a special blessing, in response to the curse formulated
against all non-Pharisaic Jews by the rabbis of Yavneh in 90 CE)
Guide your people, Israel, and protect her with a lasting peace. Fill the House of Israel with the holiness of your Presence. Renew her faith in the future. Guide those who lead the government of the land of Israel, that in their negotiations with others, all accords made will be just and fair to all sides. Deliver her from fear, and fulfil the promises you made to our ancestors.
Hear the cry of your people Israel in these times of fear, and deliver them from those who terrorise them. Remember them in their burning anguish, and save them from the cruelty of despair. Do not let them fall to hopelessness, rather deliver them up to the salvation of your peace.
Let us pray for the peace of Jerusalem; may those who love her dwell safe and secure. May there be peace within her walls, and security within her citadels. For the sake of our families and friends, let us say, Peace be within you. For the sake of the house of YHVH our God, let us seek your prosperity.
Bless with peace all the nations of the earth, that one day they might put away their desire for conflict, and prepare for war no more. May their leaders learn to care for all their people, and govern wisely and with dignity.
May your Reign come swiftly, and be speedily fulfilled. Make known your ways within our hearts, and help us to live them and to do them.
Bless those who minister to your people, and to the Nations. May they have the courage to examine in their hearts what they teach, and speak only what is true, and according to Your Teaching. Guide them always in the ways of love, care, and compassion.
Watch over us in our community, all Followers of the Way wherever they may be, both known and unknown to us. Help us to live in the holiness of Your Teaching, and remain true to the ideals that you have set before us.
Compassionate YHVH, God of the poor, enfold your arms of love around the poor, the widowed and the orphaned, the lonely, the old, the sick and the dying. Help them to see that they are never alone, and that you are always with them.
Bless all the little ones, our children. May they never lose their sense of awe and wonder with the world which you have created in your wisdom. Help us to see you with their eyes.
Let us now pray for a moment in silence for our own personal needs.
(pray for whatever thoughts and concerns you have had over the last week).
These, O YHVH, and many more unspoken, are our prayers.
17. PRAYER OF INTIMATE SUPPLICATION TO GOD
Do not abandon us, O YHVH;
Do not stay away, O God!
Help us now, O YHVH our Saviour
But in all things, your will, not ours, be done.
(see weekly emails)
18. FINAL BLESSING AND DISMISSAL
Shalom aleikhem. Peace be with you.
yevarekhekha YHVH ve-yishmerekha
ya’eir YHVH panav eilekha vichunekha
yissa YHVH panav eileykha, ve-yaseim lekha shalom
May YHVH bless you and watch over you;
May YHVH deal favourably with you and be gracious to you;
May YHVH turn good fortune towards you, and grant you peace
Let us go out into the world, to serve God, and to love our neighbour.