Thursday, December 16, 2010

Meaningful Worship: The WOW! of Shabbat

I was sitting in Shabbat services a few months ago and I had an incredible feeling of deja vu. I can't recall what song we were singing or to what element of the service we had come, but there it was. All of a sudden, I was back in BESTY, at a NEFTY Institute at Eisner Camp. I was 15 again, sitting on the floor of Manor House, and someone was playing a guitar. What felt like hundreds of voices joined in song that evening. With arms wrapped around each other's shoulders, we swayed and sang and....WOW! I recall thinking, "If this is what Shabbat feels like, I want this EVERY week!" (Thanks to my parents, I had it for four weeks over three summers at camp and for all four years of youth group, which felt like heaven).

Every now and then, while I'm sitting in our Temple Beth Shalom sanctuary, I find myself transported back to camp. I find myself in that WOW! place again, that moment when Shabbat is within me and surrounds me at the same instant. Each year, during our Sisterhood Spirituality Retreat, that WOW! moment extends and carries me from Kabbalat Shabbat through to our closing ritual on Sunday morning.

I am curious to hear your story. Can you think of a time when Shabbat was particularly meaningful to you? Where were you? What was it about that Shabbat that separated it from other Shabbat experiences? Have you been able to recreate that feeling (or something close to it) since that particular experience? Is there a song or a moment in our weekly Shabbat services that transports you, even just for an instant, to your WOW! Shabbat? If you haven't had such an experience, what do you think would enable you to bring yourself to WOW! on Shabbat?


  1. Music and nature do it for me - give me that WOW feeling. I will always remember Shabbat in Jerusalem at Kol Ha Nishema - the music took me to a different place than I had ever been before.
    Services during my youth group days in OVFTY were often WOW experiences for me.

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