April 13, 2024 -

Special Friday Nights of Shabbat – by Executive Director Steven Borstein


“Six days a week we wrestle with the world, wringing profit from the earth; on the Sabbath we especially care for the seed of eternity planted in the soul. The world has our hands, but our soul belongs to Someone Else. Six days a week we seek to dominate the world, on the seventh day we try to dominate the self.” Rabbi  Abraham Joshua Heschel

I spent most of my life never attending Shabbat services.  I grew up in another Reform temple, I wasn’t a Bar Mitzvah, and didn’t read Hebrew.  I found the services boring since I didn’t know the prayers or songs.

And then I became your Executive Director at Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple.  My wife Donna had been attending Shabbat Services at another synagogue. I said, “You have to try our temple. I work here and I’ll even go with you”.  So I began to regularly attending Friday night services.  Not once a year, not an occasional bar mitzvah or the wonderful once a month Kabbalat Service, but every Friday.

After a couple of months I was hooked. Now we go to Friday night services weekly.  I still can’t read Hebrew, (I am learning and will be an Adult Bar Mitzvah next summer).  Now the prayers and songs are familiar and I can chant most of them. The songs begin to come from within me, rather than at me.  And it’s so helpful that our wonderful clergy make the evening spiritual.  What I have come to realize is that it takes regular exposure to Friday night services, to touch that “something” that is inside us.  It can’t be found in just an occasional attempt.

Now Friday nights are truly special for us.  We leave feeling, relaxed, refreshed, soothed and at peace. I continue to be amazed that this one special hour has become so important to me.

Those who regularly attend Shabbat services know the particular sense of unity one may find with fellow congregants and worshippers. I encourage you to give it a try.  Come for three consecutive Shabbats.  Experience and enjoy the services.  Enjoy Kabbalat Shabbat the second Friday of every month and the delicious light dinner afterwards.  Enjoy the Wine & Welcome before services the last Friday of the month.  Enjoy our many special guests, and most importantly our clergy! Who knows, you may discover as I did, the wonderful experience that will enrich every Shabbat for the rest of your life.