Our Shabbat Service
As we finish singing, you may want to take up a Siddur that is readily found in the rack in front of you. This prayer book, which opens from right to left, is used intermittently for specific prayers during our Messianic Synagogue service. You’ll find that it is written in Hebrew with English transliteration and translation so that you may easily follow along even if you don’t know Hebrew. Also, we will guide you through the service by providing you with the page numbers being used in the Siddur on the projection screen.
Following the opening prayer, we enter into a series of songs. You’ll find that most of the lyrics are drawn from the Scriptures themselves––the book of Psalms and other passages that focus our attention on knowing, loving, and praising the one true God of Israel and the one whom He sent, Yeshua Messiah. Some songs are sung in Hebrew, but all Hebrew songs and prayers are transliterated and/or translated for your understanding.
The Shema is the heart of Jewish prayer and consists of three passages: Deut 6:4–9; 11:13–21; & Num 15:37–41. The first of these passages is recited in Hebrew. It is a declaration that there is only one God, the LORD, and that we are to love Him with all of our heart, all of our being, and all of our strength.
The Amidah is a series of benedictions that serve as the center-piece of daily Jewish prayer. We recite the first three benedictions thanking and praising God for our covenant relationship, the promise of a redeemer, and the promise of resurrection.
The Torah Service
Following the Amidah, the Torah (a scroll containing the Five Books of Moses) is removed from the Aron HaKodesh (the Holy Ark). It is then carried around the sanctuary––a rite known as “processing the Torah”. Children are invited to follow the Torah around the sanctuary.
You will notice that as it is carried along, congregants will touch it with a Bible, a Siddur, or tzitzit (the fringes of a prayer shawl called a “Tallit”) and then kiss that article. This ancient Jewish tradition expresses our honor and devotion to the Word of God as Psalm 119:103 declares: “How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth”! Once returned to the Bima (raised platform), a passage from the Torah is read in Hebrew and then in English. References for the Torah Scriptures and other passages may be found in the front of the weekly Shabbat service program.
After the Torah reading, the scroll is “dressed” by replacing its covering mantle and adorning silver elements. The Torah scroll is then returned to the Aron HaKodesh and the congregants join in this rite by singing the words of “Etz Chaim” (Tree of Life).
A short reading from the Prophets (called in Hebrew the Haftarah) follows the reading of the Torah. A passage is then read from the B’rit Chadasha Scriptures (New Covenant Scriptures). As Abraham Joshua Heschel once wrote, the Jewish way of life teaches us to sanctify time—to be attached to holiness in time. Every hour in time is unique, exclusive, and endlessly precious. Life thus becomes a pilgrimage to the seventh day, a longing for Shabbat rest during all the days of the week. Shabbat is a palace in time, the climax in living designed to provide the blessing of profound rest, delight, and enjoyment. And so, we begin with song!
About Messianic Jewish Congregations
Israel’s victory in the Six Day War brought the reunification of Jerusalem. For the first time in over 2000 years, Jewish people were allowed to worship God freely at our holiest site. The Jewish return to Jerusalem sparked a spiritual renewal among Jewish people across the globe. Hundreds of thousands of Jewish people chose to follow Yeshua, the Messiah of Israel. These new believers began forming congregations and membership associations to nurture a radical new path: Jewish life renewed in Yeshua. Beth Messiah was one such work born of God in 1975.
On one particular Shavuot (Feast of Weeks), God poured out the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) on the first community of Yeshua’s followers, so that they might be joined intimately to the Messiah as His ‘Body’ and become the preliminary representation of the new covenant fullness promised to Israel. To this early Jewish community, God added partners from among the nations who heard the report of God’s work in Yeshua and responded to the Good News with trust. (Isaiah 19:23–25; 66:20–23; Joel 2:28–32; Acts 2:1–21; 10:44–48; 15:8–9; Eph 1:13; & 2:11–22)
Spiritual life is grounded in God-centered family units within the relational framework of congregations, whereby persons are encouraged, educated, and discipled. Jewish families in Messianic Jewish congregations are strengthened in their Jewish calling to covenant life. Gentile families are strengthened in their Gentile calling to covenant life while enjoying full and rich participation in the Jewish heritage and essence of the Messianic way of life. Thus, BMC is the synagogue of choice for Jewish-Gentile couples who seek to preserve their own ethnic identities in Messiah. Such a community of Jews as Jews and Gentiles as Gentiles, one in Messiah, provides a glimpse of the future unity God has for Israel and the nations in the world to come. (1 Cor 7:17–20 & Rev 7:4–10)