You are standing on the meadow at Congregation Kol Ami on a beautiful summer’s Friday eve. Rather than being in the sanctuary or chapel, you have been beckoned outdoors, to celebrate Shabbat in a way that is perhaps closer to how our ancestors did. All of the important and familiar aspects of the service are there: our Rabbi and Cantorial Soloist, the ark cradling the Torah, the Shabbat candles, the challah, the Mishkan T’filah prayer books and our unique song books … even the comfortable chairs. As dusk approaches, you are joined in a unique and intimate gathering, blending worship and nature into a special spiritual experience. The great copper beech, linden, oak, pine and spruce trees form a chupah for the ark and the worshippers. The whisper of the wind and the birdsong blend with our voices as we celebrate the beginning of Shabbat together.
At Kol Ami, Friday night services from late June through August happen outdoors. We start at 5:45 p.m. with a “Bring Your Own Dinner” (BYOD) picnic where members and guests of all ages break bread, share wine and talk about the week that was and the Shabbat that is coming. Our children eat and play on the meadow. At about 6:30 p.m., the Rabbi calls us together, and our service begins with songs of Shabbat.