Our liturgy draws from the Humanistic Jewish tradition as well as Torah, Talmud, medieval scholarship, humanistic philosophy, contemporary Jewish and secular literature, and the reflections of our members.
The Liturgy of Kahal B’raira
Our liturgy evolves as we grow and learn as a congregation. We strive to “say what we mean and mean what we say.”
Our liturgy expresses our commitment to:
- Celebrate Jewish culture and holidays
- Realize the strength we derive from gathering together
- Exercise our control over our own destinies
- Face reality with candor and courage
- Express our convictions honestly in all languages
- To ensure that services are accessible to everyone, all Hebrew and Yiddish are translated and transliterated
- Promote human dignity
Excerpts from Our Services
Many services include member reflections on meaningful life passages.
Candle, Wine and Breaking Bread Humanistic Blessing
Baruch ha-or sheh-b’chol eh-chod.
Blessed is the light in each of us.
Baruch ha-or b’olam.
Blessed is the light that brings joy into the world.
Baruch ha-or ha-atid.
Blessed is the light of the future.
B’rucha ha-a-retz, b’rucha ha-she-mesh, ba-ruch ha-ge-shem.
Blessed be the earth, the sun, and the rain.
Ha-bo-reem p’ree ha-ga-fen.
Which bring forth the fruit of the vine.
Baruch amal kapainu.
Blessed is the work of our hands.
Baruch chazon sheh-b’chol echod.
Blessed is the vision of our minds.
Baruch le-chem ha-a-retz.
Blessed is the bread of the earth.
Chanukah Candle Humanistic Blessing
(by Sherwin Wine)
Na-ey ha-or ba-ah-dam
Na-ey ha-or mee-khol ko-kha-veem
Na-ey ha-or mee-khol o-la-meem
Na-ey ha-or bah-ah-dam.
Marvelous is the light within us.
More wonderful than all the stars,
More wonderful than all the galaxies.
Marvelous is the light within us.
Ba-rukh ha-or ba-o-lam
Ba-rukh ha-or ba-a-dam
Ba-rukh ha-or ba Chanukah
Radiant is the light of the world
Radiant is the light of humanity
Radiant is the light of Chanukah
Rosh Hashanah - New Year's Service
ROSH HASHANNAH EVENING
Shofar is a call. Awake from sleep and remember your dreams. This is the end of the year, and its beginning. This is the moment of pause, the refilling of the empty vessel, the renewing of the empty spirit. Let us welcome the light of the New Year as we listen to the call of the shofar.
Reader: Summer has passed. The days grow shorter. The sounds and colors of nature speak to us of changes in the world.
Congregation: The stirring of the wind reminds us of changes in our lives, and in our course on earth.
Reader: Jews throughout the world are about to enter upon a new season of the spirit. Our observances remind us of our changing lives and fortunes, of the changes that take place within our families, our homes, and our communities.
Congregation: We are reminded of the changes that have taken place within ourselves.
Reader: Rosh Hashanah is at once a day to take stock of the past and a chance to dream of new beginnings. We recall those moments in the past year when we rejoiced in our victories and achievements, our decent impulses, and our generous actions.
Congregation: We reflect on our moments of weakness: the times we could have done better, tried harder, acted with more compassion.
Reader: We examine the meaning of Rosh Hashanah in our own lives, and in the life of our community. We find comfort in this tradition as it gives us the strength to live our humanist values.
Congregation: We focus on feelings about the coming year, our excitement and our apprehension.
Reader: We are called upon many times to perform acts of compassion, kindness, and justice. Every day we come face-to-face with our innermost nature, and ask of ourselves all that we have to give. Is it any wonder that we sometimes falter? That among all our successes at meeting the challenges of life we nonetheless can look back on episodes that we have come to regret? At Rosh Hashanah we have the opportunity to reflect on the past year, on our actions, and on our failures to act.
Congregation: We reflect in this way not to shame, berate, or condemn, but to acknowledge our humanness and to grapple with our own personal struggle.
Yom Kippur Family Service
Song: Hiney ma tov
Hin-nay mah tove oo-mah-nah-eem,
Sheh-vet a-kheem gam yah-kahd
Reader: If people are going to live together in a community, it’s important to have ideas about what’s rijght and what’s wrong. We know lots of rules. For instance, cars must stop at a red light so we can coss safely. People must not hurt each other or take things that don’t belong to them. In a room like this, we must sit quietly so that everyone can hear what’s going on.
Let us think about all the ideas that guide our lives.
Reader: Once a year, at this time, we pause to think about the rules that make our lives pleasant. We think back over what we did and how we acted during the past year. We think about those times we are proud of – – and also about those times we are not so proud of.
Readers from the Congregation:
Did we love our family? Or sometimes forget to say a kind word?
Did we share? Or just think of ourselves?
Did we help? Or let someone else do the work?
Did we reach out to someone who was lonely or unhappy? Or pretend not to notice?
Were we fair to others? Or were we sometimes dishonest?
Do we decide for ourselves what is right and wrong? Or do we just follow what others do?
Song: Bim Bam
Bim bam bim bim bim bam
Bim bim bim bim bim bam
Shabbat Shabbat Shabbat Shabbat Shalom.
Shabbat Shabbat Shabbat Shabbat Shalom.
(Sabbath greetings, Sabbath peace.)
Reader: We gather, as Jews have always gathered, to create precious Sabbath moments. Let us take pause from our everyday lives to create a special time, a Sabbath time.
All: Let us put aside the fear, anger, turmoil, trials, dissonance, demands, expectations and pace of our daily existence that we may create and celebrate the Sabbath.
Let the possibilities of this moment be not lost. Let every potential for wisdom, harmony and elation be realized.
Let the Sabbath be an expression of the best in us and all that we can share.
The Sabbath is a time for peace, for contemplation, for introspection, for understanding and for hope.
It is a time for love, laughter and joy to be shared by family and friends.
For giving and getting.
For sharing and caring.
For learning about the goodness of life, for reaffirming our faith and our beliefs.
For having the courage to express the best within us.
So let us grasp these Sabbath moments. Let us savor them. Let us cherish them.
Let passion for life be kindled within our souls as we light the Sabbath tapers.
Reader: The Sabbath reminds us that even more important than the right to work is the right not to work.
The Sabbath reminds us that our bodies belong to us, not to our employers, and that physical, intellectual and emotional pleasures are to be enjoyed.
The Sabbath reminds us that we need roses as well as bread, that our families, friends and our life of the mind has a necessary place in our lives.
The Sabbath is more than a reminder that we are free, it is a reminder that we are human.
LIGHTING THE CANDLES
Reader: For thousands of years Jews have burned shabbos candles.
All: The warm glow of the shabbos candles is a reflection of the light within us and of the love and friendship we have for each other.
Shabbos is a time of rest and renewal. We rest from the labors of the week — studying, working, and playing. Sometimes just getting through the day is a heavy chore.
We renew ourselves so that the next weeks may be better, so that we will have strength for ourselves, for our families, and for our own part of making the world a better place.
Yom Hashoah - Holocaust Remembrance Service
Together: We come together in sorrow.
We mourn those who lost their lives, and we mourn an entire Jewish way of life that perished with them. We seek to make our own lives worthy of their incredible suffering and sacrifice. We seek to affirm our own humanity by recalling theirs.
Together: We come together in anger.
We are angry, if not blind with rage and hatred, at those responsible for the murder of six million Jews, for the murder of two million children, for the murder of twelve million people of various nationalities and backgrounds, for a campaign of annihilation and destruction, for years of systematic and relentless mass murder.
Together: We come together in hope.
We hope that each and every person will be valued, that differences will be accepted rather than condemned, and that justice and morality will prevail. We hope we can create a future with no more genocides, no more mass murders, no more holocausts. We hope we will have the wisdom to recognize evil, and the courage to resist it.
We light six candles to remember the light of six million souls Extinguished in the Holocaust
Today we commemorate the death of six million Jews at the hands of the Nazis. Jews were among thirty five million people dead from all causes related to World War II. Jews were among twelve million civilians murdered by the Nazis in concentration camps, cities, villages, ghettos, fields, ravines, trains and trucks. In addition to the murder of six million Jews, the Nazis murdered people who were Polish, people who were Russian, people who were Gypsies (Romani or Sinti), people who were Jehovah‘s Witnesses, people who were Catholic, people who were gay, people who were communists, people who were socialists, people who had physical disabilities, people who had mental disabilities. They murdered people who crossed their path, people who hinted at resistance, people who fell into the black hole of the Nazi death machine by accident.
We remember all who were murdered—Jews and gentiles—victims, martyrs, heroes. We honor those who died because they were Jews…those who died because they helped Jews…those who died because they resisted the Nazis…those who died because they were marked for death out of the same perverse ideology…those who died simply because the death machine was so big, so embracing, so arbitrary.
The service continues with musical selections, poetry, silent meditation and reflective readings.