Shabbat is the cornerstone of Jewish ritual.
It’s a way to experience pause and joy and gratitude and community and connectivity, to welcome in the transition from the work week to a time of rest, community, and pleasure. It is a gift from our history and tradition that offers us a chance to breathe and reset.
At JRC, there are many ways to observe Shabbat, all of them rooted in our traditions and values. We use Shabbat to notice what is important, celebrate, and be together in the ways that are best for each of us. Learn more below.
Erev Shabbat – Friday Evening
Shabbat at Home
For some people, Friday nights are spent at home with family and friends. Many members of our community watch our Erev Shabbat services each week on Zoom or Facebook Live as they make Shabbat dinner or relax in their garden. There are opportunities to participate or just listen, sing along, and enjoy.
We also offer resources for you to use to guide your own Shabbat observance at home, from information offered by Reconstructing Judaism (our movement) to prayers and music you can listen to at home, recorded by our beloved Cantor Howard Friedland. Wherever you bring the spirit of Shabbat into your heart is a sanctuary!
Come to Services
JRC’s in-person Erev Shabbat services are a joyful, rich communal experience of prayer and gratitude. We celebrate the week that is ending and begin our weekly rest in song and community, led by our clergy. For anyone who needs a place to reconnect, replenish their spirit, or say kaddish and remember a loved one, JRC’s Friday evening Erev Shabbat service is the place to be.
In addition to deeply-rooted spiritual sustenance, our services sometimes begin with communal potlucks and end with opportunities for adult learning. Our “Living Our Values” speaker series invites members to share how their Jewish values intersect with the way they do their work in the secular world. Together we explore what contemporary Jewish thought has to say about the issues that we face today. Invited guests, small group discussions on contemporary issues, and Jewish learning are all features of our post-services programming.
Summer Lakefront Shabbat Services!
In the most JRC way possible, we move our Kabbalat Shabbat services to the Evanston Lakefront each summer. Imagine summer camp mixed with Ravinia mixed with a beautiful Shabbat service, all with the backdrop of beautiful Lake Michigan each Friday from June – September. Bring a picnic dinner and break bread with friends from 6:00-7:00 pm and stay for a short camp-like service from 7:00-8:00 pm. Four dates also include our Shabbat Littles at the Lakefront from 5:30-6:00 pm (with Bonnie Silverman co-leading one!).
Services take place at Elliot Park (Lakeshore Blvd at Hamilton Street) in Evanston, except for once each summer when we gather at Noah’s Playground (Sheridan Road at Central Street, next to Lighthouse Beach. Bring your own folding chair, picnic blanket and don’t forget the Ruach! Services are livestreamed on the JRC Facebook Page for those preferring to join us virtually. All are welcome! Lakefront Shabbat is a wonderful way to get to know JRC.
Shabbat – Saturday Morning
All are welcome to our lively, member-led Shabbat morning minyan. This intellectually and spiritually stimulating communal Shabbat service includes praying, singing, discussing, and community building. We’re always looking for JRC members to lead, chant, give a d’var Torah, and provide the oneg. Click here to sign up to help lead minyan!
If you are interested in participating, you can download our Minyan Leader’s Guide. The Guide is helpful to JRC members preparing to lead a service and others looking to better understand the structure and flow of our service.
Click here for a PDF of the Kol Haneshamah:Shabbat Vehagim, our Reconstructionist prayerbook used in the Minyan service.
Clergy-Led Community B'nai/B'rit Mitzvah Service
In addition, our B’nai/B’rit Mitzvot services* are wonderful learning experiences for visiting Jews and non-Jews alike. Warm, musical, and socially/politically relevant, this service is both down-to-earth and joyfully creative! We welcome you to join us for worship, singing, and the opportunity to remember your loved ones and say Kaddish in community with us.
*Why B’nai/Brit Mitzvot? Hebrew is a gendered language that doesn’t always speak for the varied gender identities in our community. We use this language as many use pronouns: Bar Mitzvah for he/him, Bat Mitzvah for she/her, B’nai Mitzvah for they/them, and Brit Mitzvah (entering the covenant of the mitzvot) for those for whom gender isn’t an essential part of this ritual.
All are welcome to our Shabbat Meditation program– a time for us to come together in community to explore how meditation can help us rest deeply, listen fully to our deepest Self, and connect to our spiritual dimension. There is a great history of meditation and contemplation in the Jewish mystical tradition and Kabbalah. We will gather together twice a month to learn and practice meditation in its Jewish forms. The first hour of our session will be dedicated to learning, chanting, and meditation, followed by a discussion of our experiences as we get to know one another. No experience necessary.
Pray With Your Feet
Justice, Justice Shall You Pursue
Healing the world — also known as tikkun olam — is a Jewish value at the heart of JRC. There are times when our prayers are best said in the midst of a rally, an act of social justice, or in protest. We call this “praying with our feet,” and it’s often true in our secular world that these actions take place on Shabbat. If our members take part in acts of tikkun olam on Shabbat, we have guidance and resources for them to connect these wider acts of justice with the very soul of their Jewish practice. Visit our Pray With Your Feet page for more information.