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ONLINE THROUGH ZOOM Secular Humanist Service

Friday, March 20, 2020 24 Adar 5780

7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

This participatory service in English embraces a human-centered philosophy that combines the celebration of Jewish culture, values, traditions, and identity with an adherence to humanistic values and ideas. Led by Matt Levin.

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BETH JACOB SECULAR/HUMANIST SHABBAT SERVICE
Prepared by Matt Levin


WELCOME BY SERVICE LEADER
Leader: We take this Sabbath as the Day of Rest, the Day of Renewal.
Let us breathe deeply and think of peace and quiet,
a break from the busy week.
Let us be free of the burdens which must return;
let us toss our burdens into the air on this night.
Let us be silent for a few moments, breathe deeply,
And feel the meaning of Shabbat in our community and in ourselves.

MEANING OF SHABBAT
Leader: In modern America, we take the five-day work-week so much for granted that we forget what a radical
concept a day of rest was in ancient times. The weekly day of rest has no parallel in any other ancient
civilization.
Reader: In ancient times, leisure was for the wealthy and the ruling classes only, never for the serving or
laboring classes. In addition, the very idea of rest each week was unimaginable. The Greeks thought Jews were
lazy because we insisted on having a "holiday" every seventh day.
Reader: The Sabbath day brings rest, peace, and calm after the weariness and commotion of the week. It should
make us feel, as it did our parents and grandparents, that life is worthwhile. It should inspire us with confidence
and with faith in ourselves and each other.
Reader: It provides us with an opportunity to think that we are human beings and not machines. It bids us to
care for our emotions as much as we care for our physical and material well-being.
Reader: The Shabbat reminds us that we need roses as well as bread, that we treasure most our families,
friends, and our community.

SONG – HINEY MA TOV
How good and pleasant it is
For brothers & sisters to sit together.
Hiney Ma Tovu Ma Nayim
Shevet Achiyot gam yachad (2 times)
Hiney Ma Tov, Shevet Achiyot gam yachad (2 times)
Hiney Ma Tovu Ma Nayim
Shevet Achiyot gam yachad (2 times)

SILENT READINGS
One of the issues confronting us with this rise in hate and its attendant crime is simply, where do we go to find a
form of moral instruction that is solid, unchanging, uncompromising and uncomplicated? Can a purely secular
culture provide the teachings needed to defeat hate? Frankly, I’m not so sure it can. People always want to deify
something and someone. They will always find a golden calf and a new King Herod. To vaccinate the people by
having them study philosophy and sociology won’t work. People sure as heck studied philosophy and sociology
in Germany, Russia and China — and look where they ended up.
The problem is clear right there in the word “secular.” It comes from the Latin saeculum, which meant a span of
time roughly equal to one person’s lifetime. That’s not long. The words “secular values” then, perforce, refer to
a set of values that will change with the vacillations of people’s opinions and deaths. Purely secular moral
systems are, by their innate nature, likely to change for better or worse whichever way human whim may lean.
And we can lean very dangerously. [John Nassivera]
***************
Why does the seemingly simple act of taking a few deep breaths, closing our eyes, and reaching out to hold
hands with others at our dinner table once a week make such a difference?
Even if we can’t make the time to be so centered for longer than just a minute or two on Friday night, that
spark of connection can still make so much difference in our lives.

[TORAH READING/ISSUE DISCUSSION]
REMEMBERING

Leader: Let us pause now to remember those we have loved who are no longer with us, new friends and family
we have gained, and the sorrows and joys, challenges and accomplishments of the past week.

SHABBAT BLESSINGS
Note: “Baruch ha’khaeem ba’olam” means “Blessed is all life on earth”. It replaces the traditional “Baruch
atah adonai elohenu melech ha’olam,” which means “Blessed is God, King of the Universe”.
Candles
Reader: Light dispels the darkness around us.
Friends dispel the darkness in us.
Reader: We celebrate the triumph of light over darkness.
Together, may we come to know the blessings of light, friendship, freedom, dignity, and truth.
All: Baruch ha’khaeem ba’olam
v’et ha torah shet
vitzivanoo lahad lik ner
shel Shabbat.
Blessed is all life on earth and
the tradition of lighting the shabbas candles.

Wine
Reader: The Shabbat wine is a symbol of the wholeness of life.
There are times when we drink from bitter cups, yet there are also times when we savor the
sweetness and happiness that exalt and celebrate life.
Reader: The wine reminds us that life is both joy and sorrow.
We accept them both, and so, all that life offers.
All: Baruch ha’khaeem ba’olam
boray p’ree hagafen.
Blessed is all life on earth and the fruit from the vine.
Challah
Reader: May this bread we are about to share bring us together with a common vision and purpose.
Reader: May we enjoy the fruits of our labor, the work of our hands.
May it remind us that there is hunger in the world.
And let us also remember that humankind does not live by bread alone.
All: Baruch ha’khaeem ba’olam
ha motzi lekhem
min ha’aretz. Amen.
Blessed is all life on earth and
the bread that comes forth from the land.


CONCLUSION
All: Together let us bring peace to our community.
Together let us bring peace to our world.
Together let us bring peace to ourselves.


SHABBAT SHALOM
WHAT IS SECULAR/HUMANIST JUDAISM?
Secular/Humanistic (S/H) Judaism offers cultural and secular Jews a nontheistic, contemporary Jewish practice and path.
It defines Judaism as the cultural and historical experience of the Jewish people.
S/H Judaism embraces a human-centered philosophy that combines rational thinking with a deep connection to the Jewish
people and its culture. S/H Jews value their Jewish identity and the aspects of Judaism that offer a genuine expression of
their contemporary way of life. S/H Jews celebrate holidays and life events such as weddings and bar and bat mitzvah
with inspirational ceremonies that draw upon but go beyond traditional symbols and liturgy.
Material from Secular Jewish Circle of Puget Sound, Congregation For Humanistic Judaism of Fairfield County CT,
Tremont Street Shul, and the Society for Humanistic Judaism.

Vayakhel
Moses then convoked the whole Israelite community and said to them: "These are the things
that the Eternal has commanded you to do." - Exodus 35:1
Exodus 35:1–38:20 [March 21]


Chabad Summary:
Moses assembles the people of Israel and reiterates to them the commandment to observe the Shabbat. He then
conveys G‑d’s instructions regarding the making of the Mishkan (Tabernacle). The people donate the required
materials in abundance, bringing gold, silver and copper; blue-, purple- and red-dyed wool; goat hair, spun
linen, animal skins, wood, olive oil, herbs and precious stones. Moses has to tell them to stop giving.
A team of wise-hearted artisans make the Mishkan and its furnishings (as detailed in the previous Torah
readings of Terumah, Tetzaveh and Ki Tisa): three layers of roof coverings; 48 gold-plated wall panels, and 100
silver foundation sockets; the parochet (veil) that separates between the Sanctuary’s two chambers, and the
masach (screen) that fronts it; the ark, and its cover with the cherubim; the table and its showbread; the sevenbranched menorah with its specially prepared oil; the golden altar and the incense burned on it; the anointing
oil; the outdoor altar for burnt offerings and all its implements; the hangings, posts and foundation sockets for
the courtyard; and the basin and its pedestal, made out of copper mirrors.
********************


Reform Commentary
Excerpts – by Rabbi Sarah Bassin
It’s true — there can be too much of a good thing. But not all. Who would want to set limits on
something like kindness, selflessness, or generosity? Apparently Moses.
The people are so eager for this building campaign, so moved by the vision of what it will do
for the community, that they are exceedingly generous with their gifts. So how does Moses
react? He tells them to stop. It’s hard to imagine a synagogue or a nonprofit organization of
any kind turning away an excess of donations today.
Perhaps Moses was simply myopic. He was so intensely focused on the task at hand of
building the Tabernacle, he forgot that he was the leader of more than just a construction
project. The people demonstrated how eager they were to be called to a higher purpose.
Moses’ speech looked less like President John F. Kennedy’s call to action, “Ask not what your
country can do for you,” and more like a request for us to go shopping in the wake of terrorist
attacks.
As easy as it is to criticize Moses for his lack of visionary leadership in the moment, we can
also feel for him. How many of us have experienced an overeager coworker or volunteer we
don’t know how to channel? The challenge for us when we find ourselves in positions of
leadership is how to transform that eagerness and good will into something collectively
needed and valuable.
Moses helps us learn through his mistake that when people express an eagerness to help,
they are actually expressing a spiritual desire. They want to be part of something bigger than
themselves. When we are leaders, our charge is twofold — to give them an outlet for that
generosity and to make sure that it does indeed matter.

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