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):
(Sung by Yosef Karduner, in Mizrachi folk style)
A. WELCOME ADDRESS
Shabbat shalom le-kulkhem – a Sabbath of Peace to all of you. With all my heart, I 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 remember that our God set apart this day as a sign to remind us for all time of the special relationship between God and Israel.
We bless and honour YHVH our God, who has given us the Sabbath for rest, and ordained it as a sign of the Covenant, and made it holy.
1. CALL TO WORSHIP
My friends, beloved sons and daughters of God, listen to what I have heard, a wonder most marvellous! That the earth did not yet exist, nor even the sky, nor yet any tree or mountain; that there was no sun or moon to give their light; that there was no sea or river; that the land was formless and empty.
Yet, there was YHVH God, gracious of will, compassionate before Creation, lover of wisdom, author of goodness, and source of strength.
God was merciful, even before there was mercy; God was loving, even before there was love; and God was just, even before justice came into being.
Let us think therefore on YHVH our God, in our prayer, and realise the one source of all. Let us think on Gods mercy, and be merciful; let us think on Gods love, and be compassionate, and let us think forever on Gods peacefulness, and be at peace.
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 are our true Guardian and Confidant. You alone know the innermost secrets of our hearts, and you alone know the things we could not, with confidence, reveal to even those who are closest to us those things in our past for which we feel no one would understand enough to comfort us; those things which have hurt us, and perhaps keep us from prayer.
Turn then your spirit of compassion and understanding towards us, and let the breath of your Presence heal and renew our souls. Open to us a wider view of the world and of ourselves, and let it be that our hearts are not hurt so much by the world around us, that we cannot realise the ultimate goodness with which you have blessed our human souls.
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:
ve-shamru bney yisraeil et ha-shabbat, laasot et ha-shabbat le-dorotam brit olam. beyni u-veyn bney yisraeil ot hi leolam
The people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath,
Observing the Sabbath throughout the generations,
An eternal covenant.
Between me and the people of Israel, it shall be a sign for all time.
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
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 baelim, YHVH?
mi khamókha needar 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?
YHVH is my shepherd, therefore I shall want for nothing:
God makes me recline in pastures of tender sweet grass;
God leads me along the shore of restful waters;
God refreshes me;
God drives me along the trails of righteousness,
For that is what God is like.
Even though I might walk in a valley of deepest darkness,
I will not be afraid of any evil,
For You are with me;
Your wolf-cudgel and your shepherds staff
– they comfort me
You lay out before me a table in full sight of my enemies;
You smother my head with oil!
My cup gushes over!
How surely will goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life!
And I will reside in the Temple of YHVH for as long as I shall live.
7. PRAYERS OF PENITENCE AND FORGIVENESS
Beloved YHVH, let us never be so arrogant or conceited to think that we are
better than anyone else, for we are not.
We have been intolerant of others,
And we have wanted revenge;
And sometimes we have refused compassion to others;
We have hurt others,
And gossiped about them and hated them;
We have been obstinate and stubborn.
And have gone our own way in the face of all reason.
But you O YHVH, are a merciful God; forgive us our transgressions, for we
are truly sorry for them, and we promise that from now on, we shall strive
more diligently to walk in your ways.
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 forgives the penitent heart. Amein
8. FIRST PRAYER OF BLESSING AND PRAISE
Your greatness, O YHVH, is seen over all the earth!
How great is your love for us!
You have exalted your majesty above the heavens,
it is sung by children and babes.
You are secure from all your enemies,
you silence the hostile and the vengeful.
Yet when we behold the sky, the work of your hands,
the moon and the stars, which you set in their places,
What are human beings, that you think of us;
mere people, that you care for us.
Yet you have made us inferior only to yourself,
and crowned us with glory and honour.
You have appointed us as stewards of your creation,
to care for the wild beasts,
the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea.
O YHVH our God, how greatly and marvellously you care for us!
(based on Psalm 8)
9. SECOND PRAYER OF PRAISE
Great and holy is our God,
The holiest of the holy in every generation.
Majesty goes before our God,
And behind God is the rush of many waters.
Grace and truth surround Gods presence;
Truth and righteousness are the foundation of Gods throne.
Separating light from darkness,
By the knowledge of Gods mind God established the dawn.
When all Gods angels had witnessed it, they sang aloud,
For God showed them what they had not known;
Crowning the hills with fruit,
Good food for every living thing.
Blessed be YHVH, who makes the earth by His power
Establishing the world in wisdom.
In Gods understanding, God stretched out the heavens,
And brought forth wind from Gods storehouses.
YHVH made lightning for the rain,
And caused mists to rise from the sweetness of the earth.
(from the Dead Sea Scrolls)
10. PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING
We thank you O God, for your existence is reflected in the existence of
every living thing on earth.
Your wonders, O YHVH, are evident for all to behold:
In the rain and the snow, in the wind and the storm, in the cloud and in the
We thank you for life, for in our living, we affirm your existence.
We thank you for our minds, and for our souls.
We thank you for the mission you have entrusted every human being
– to love and to care for everything and everyone you have created;
We thank you, loving YHVH, for that spark of holiness which dwells within
each and every one of your sons and daughters on earth.
We thank you for our closest friends, by whose spark your great love is
We thank you for our husbands and wives, our children and all our loved
ones, through whom your love sustains and guides us;
And we thank you for all the events in our lives that you have given us so
wisely to experience, so that we could know and understand you better;
And we thank you for every blessing and good fortune, which you have
showered upon us in abundance from the time of our birth.
11. PRAYER TO YHVH, OUR SAVIOUR AND REDEEMER
This is what YHVH says –
Israel’s King and Redeemer, YHVH of Hosts:
I am the first and I am the last;
apart from me there is no god.
Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it.
Let him declare and lay out before me
What has happened since I established my ancient people,
And what is yet to come –
Yes, let him foretell what will come.
Do not tremble, do not be afraid.
Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago?
You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me?
No, there is no other Redeemer; I know not one.
(extract adapted from Isaiah 44:6-8)
12. REMEMBRANCE OF GODS PROMISES
This is what YHVH of Hosts says:
I will return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem.
Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth,
and the mountain of YHVH of Hosts will be called the Holy Mountain.
I will save my people from the countries of the east and the west.
I will bring them back to live in Jerusalem;
they will be my people,
and I will be faithful and righteous to them as their God.
Do not be afraid.
These are the things you are to do:
Speak the truth to one another,
and render true and sound judgment in your courts;
do not plot evil against your neighbour,
and do not love to swear falsely.
I hate all this, declares YHVH .
This is what YHVH of Hosts says:
Many peoples and the inhabitants of many cities will yet come,
and the inhabitants of one city will go to another and say,
‘Let us go at once to entreat YHVH,
let us go and seek YHVH of Hosts.
I myself am going.’
Many peoples and a multitude of nations will come to Jerusalem
to seek YHVH of Hosts and to entreat the favour of YHVH.”
In those days
ten men from all languages and nations will take firm hold of every Jew
by the fringes of his cloak and say,
‘Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.’
(extracts from Zekharyah chapter 8)
13. REWARDS FOR FOLLOWING GODS WAYS
If you follow my decrees, and are careful to obey my commandments,
You will live in safety and security in your Land.
I will grant peace in the Land,
And you will lie down and no one will make you afraid.
I will remove savage beasts from the Land,
And the sword will not pass through your country.
I will look on you with favour, and not abhor you.
And make you fruitful, and increase your numbers,
And I will keep My covenant with you.
I will walk among you and be your God,
And you will be My people.
I am YHVH, who broke your yoke
And enabled you to walk with heads held high.
(extracts from Lev 26:3-13)
14. PRAYER IN THE HOLY NAME
Praise be to you, O YHVH,
God of our father Israel,
From eternity to eternity.
Yours, O YHVH, are greatness and power
And glory and majesty and splendour,
Indeed, everything in heaven and earth is yours.
To you, O YHVH, belong kingship;
You are preeminent as head over all.
Wealth and honour come from you;
You have dominion over all things.
In your hands are strength and power
To exalt and give strength to all.
Now, our God, we praise you,
And extol your glorious name.
(Prayer of David, 1 Chron 29:10-13)
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.
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 from 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.
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.
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 their swords may be beaten into ploughshares, and they may learn 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.
Keep our children safe from harm, and from the worst things of this world.
Keep our eyes ever watchful, and vigilant against those who would take them from us.
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
From the depths of our being, our souls cry out to you day and night.
For if a neighbour will reluctantly give us bread at midnight, how much more eagerly will you hear us, and answer our needs.
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
yaeir 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
Now let us depart in peace, to work for the fulfilment and glory of the kingdom of God.