We love coming to services at Congregation Kol Ami. They are warm, personal and highly participatory. Led by Rabbi Elliot Holin and Cantorial Soloist Rebecca Schwartz, our services create space for each worshipper to engage in the liturgy and find peace and meaning in the prayers.
Rabbi Holin cherishes the involvement of congregants in our services and creates ongoing opportunities for increased participation. Our youngest members learn to feel at home on the bimah during consecration in their first year of Religious School, and throughout their Religious School experience with grade-level, participatory Shabbat services. At various times in the year, our Confirmation Academy students participate in services by sharing their writings focused on understanding key Torah portions, God and Jewish values, and lead small breakout discussions enabling worshippers to share perspectives and learn from each other.
A highlight for us is when a young adult or adult member celebrates the anniversary of his or her Bar or Bat Mitzvah by once again being called to the Torah to read or chant. On the first Shabbat of each month, congregants celebrating a birthday or anniversary are invited up to the bimah to be blessed under the Rabbi’s tallit.
We use Mishkan T’filah, the newest prayer book of the Reform Movement, which was published in 2007. In this egalitarian prayer book, the English is more faithful to the Hebrew. Its clear format – Hebrew, transliteration and English on the right; associated readings, quotations and poems on the left – allows for more individual interpretation of prayer. Through its innovative format, and at the urging of Rabbi Holin, Mishkan T’filah allows each of us to explore, without feeling bound to keep up with the congregation.
We sing or read key prayers in Hebrew, and enrich the experience with an array of English readings, striking a balance that we believe makes worship and prayer more accessible.
Kippot and taleisim (prayer shawls) are available outside our sanctuary; however, they are not required.
Many of our services are held in our chapel, a smaller, welcoming space for as many as 40 worshippers, which offers a beautiful view of our meadow. Both our main sanctuary and chapel are graced with an Aron Kodesh (holy ark) and Ner Tamid (eternal light), and our sanctuary is enhanced with a beautiful, custom-designed, handcrafted Torah reader’s table. We intentionally placed the reader’s table on the floor, rather than on the bimah, to make the Torah even more accessible to all congregants.
In the summer, our peaceful meadow becomes our house of worship, as we pray on Friday evenings under the stars.
Our tradition offers moving and powerful prayers for healing. There are times when we feel the urge to be together to say the Mi’Shehberach (“May the Holy One who blesses….”) prayer for a loved one in a hospital, recovering at home or in hospice care. About four times a year, we join together for a Healing Service. Anyone who wishes to offer prayers for family, friends or him- or herself is welcome.
We offer a range of classes surrounding worship. Some focus on the basics – helping members unfamiliar with the service to feel more at home – while others delve into topical subjects, intended to lend historical, philosophical or Judaic context to modern experience.
Our Worship Enhancement Committee, with its open membership, enables all of our congregants to have a voice in shaping worship at Kol Ami and in helping to make weekly worship a choice more congregants make more often. We truly welcome new ideas and are always looking for ways to make worship more meaningful.