Diversified Services for a Diversified Congregation
The members of Congregation Beth Shalom — the only Jewish Congregation in Columbia — hail from various Jewish backgrounds — Conservative, Reconstructioniast and Reform. Although we are affiliated with the Union for Reform Judaism, our most-often-used siddur(prayer book) is the Reconstructionist Kol Ha-Neshamah. With the publication of Reform’s new siddur, Mishkan T’filah, we use each on alternate Shabbats. Still, Birnbaum’s Daily Prayer Book (Ha-sidur Ha-shalem) is used once a month for our community- led Shabbat morning service — check calendar for the specific week that features this traditional prayer book (usually the fourth Shabbat of each month). Though we read and discuss the weekly parashah (sidrah or Torah portion) each Shabbat morning (“symposium style” led by our rabbi), we also read briefly from the Torah on the first Friday night each month and discuss the specific reading. On the last Friday night each month we offer our Shabbat Brachah service (Sabbath of Blessing) as all those in attendance who celebrate in that month a joyful event in their life, i.e., a birthday, a wedding anniversary, graduation, etc. huddle together under a talit to receive a communal blessing from the rabbi. The rabbi also tells a story on this special Shabbat. The prayer book used for this service is Gates of Prayer for Young People
On the High Holy Days (as well as on Simchat Torah and Purim) our members are joined by Hillel students. We use both Reform and Conservative prayerbooks for Rosh Ha-shanah and Yom Kippur services. We hold services for both days of Rosh Ha-shanah (including botherev or evening services), Kol Nidre and morning, afternoon and yizkor (memorial) services on Yom Kippur. Our congregation offers also a Tashlich service at the shores of Twin Lakes in town on the afternoon of Rosh Ha-Shanah. We celebrate the holidays of Sukkot, Simchat Torah/Sh’mini Atzeret, Hanukkah, Purim, Pesach and Shavuot with morning or evening services. All in all, one can see how diversified our community is and our approach to prayer as well. We are proud of this aspect that makes us even more united respectful of a all Jewish traditions and liturgical approaches to the divine.