Hey, we know all this Hebrew praying can be a little intimidating, but relax; the person sitting next to you probably doesn’t know what’s going on either!
You see, a Shul, Yiddish for a place of prayer and study, is not just a synagogue, it’s a home for any Jew looking for a warm and spiritual place to grow and study. There are no rules, no assigned seats and no membership required. You’re welcome at any time for as long as you want. So find a chair, make yourself at home, and let the soothing atmosphere fill your soul.
Alright, the guys with the black hats are probably pretty religious. But look around, most of the people here look just like you! Walking into our Shul, the first thing you’ll notice is the people. There are Jews from all walks of life, from all backgrounds and affiliations. You’ll see smiles, hugs, and warm handshakes as people greet each other. It’s an intimate and spirited group. There are families, singles, seniors, and lots of children. People come to our Shul because of the sense of community and Jewish warmth they feel here. No one is judged and nothing is expected of you. You don’t need to read Hebrew or keep Shabbat. If you want to express your soul, you have come to the right place.
That word alone could put anyone to sleep. But thank G-d we don’t conduct services here. When we pray at Shul, we call it davening. Davening is a blend of prayer, song, study, and story.
Although the chazzan or leader reads the services in traditional Hebrew, the prayer books are both in Hebrew and English, and you are encouraged to follow along in whichever language you’re most comfortable. What stands out at our Shul are the tunes, the spirit and the soul of prayer. Even those who don’t read Hebrew are inspired by the Chassidic melodies and quickly hum along.
It’s important to remember that even though we come to Shul to pray collectively, prayer is a very private moment between the individual and G-d. As such, please don’t feel like you have to keep up with the congregation. The pages are announced and are the same for Hebrew or English, but feel free to daven at your own pace!
The who? The mechitza, or separator, is anything that serves to separate men and women during services. Like in the Temple of old, a Mechitza is used during prayer to facilitate the kind of intense emotional experience that prayer should bring. Men and women are given the space they both need to express their spiritual selves without distraction. Children are free to sit on either side and families can be together for study sessions, meals and other celebrations.
If you made it through to the end, and even sat through the Rabbi’s speech, well then my friend, you’ve earned yourself a drink! Join us for a L’chaim after morning services at the Kiddush. Usually sponsored by one of our congregants, the Kiddush luncheon really hits the spot after a morning of prayer. Here’s to you – and every Jew.
Chabad Jewish Center of Santa Fe • 242 West S. Mateo Road • Santa Fe, NM 87505 • 505-983-2000