On March 24th and 31st we (Emma, Clara, and Giovanna) attended the Shabbat services at the Sinai Synagogue in South Bend. Those in attendance, approximately 10 other people with genders evenly split in number, were very friendly and made a point of welcoming us before and after the services. The Shabbat service welcomes the Sabbath in each week, beginning at sundown on Friday and continuing until sundown on Saturday.
Sinai Synagogue houses a large space for devotion, but the services that we attended were held in the “little chapel,” a smaller space designed for services with an expectation of fewer attendees. Due to rules against photographing during the Sabbath, the people who were in attendance are not pictured.
Rabbi Rob Weber (in his own words, “not THE Rabbi, but A Rabbi”) demonstrated how a Tallit is worn by the leader of the service. Rabbi Weber was the person who showed us around the Synagogue and answered our questions before and after the services. Rabbi Weber leads adult education classes in the community, but does not lead his own congregation. Sometimes he or another member of the quorum will be asked to lead a section of the Shabbat service, such as the lesson.
Throughout the service everyone stood and sat according to directions given by the rabbi. Everyone was very focused and only spoke or sang for the prayers, there was no additional talking or physical activity.
The service was conducted mostly in the Hebrew language, except for the lesson of the week, which was done in English. All prayers were sung by following emphatic notation above the Hebrew words in the prayer book. The book was written in both English and Hebrew. This made it easier for our group to understand the translation of the Hebrew that was being sung.
The service concluded with a separate prayer in the lobby of the Synagogue where wine and grape juice were distributed and drank. The service was around an hour long in total and everyone in attendance left the building immediately after it concluded. While leaving they made sure to bid farewell to each other by saying “Shabbat Shalom” meaning “Sabbath [of] Peace”.