Why I Go to Synagogue for Shabbat Services
By Joseph DeFronzo
I always look forward to going to Shabbat services every week. As the week progresses, my anticipation increases and a feeling of openness and spirituality engulfs my heart and soul.
I enjoy each step of the process in preparation for Shabbat. I begin the ritual early Friday afternoon: preparing the Shabbat candles, taking the challah out of the freezer (which my wife Susan lovingly baked the week before) and setting out the prayer book, my yarmulke and the Kiddush cup. Fifteen minutes before the candle-lighting time, I place the challah in the warm oven.
As we go on with the prayers, the fragrance of the challah and the flickering of the candles create the most peaceful aura in our home with emotional, mental and spiritual levels around us. The sipping of the wine captures one’s symbol of blessing and judgment….is this what is meant by ‘In Vino Veritas’?
Over dinner a feeling of calmness settles in as Susan and I anticipate the evening service and curiously discuss what Shabbat is all about.
Although I feel I have been a de-facto Jew for many years, it has only been one year since I converted. My conversion has broadened my ardor and perspective in faith and prayer, something that I had lost for many years. This is one of the main reasons why I enjoy going to services. I enjoy the effects of socializing with people who have the same commitment and who also enjoy participating in the solemnity and purpose of the service.
It is indeed the praying and singing with everyone that increases trust and intimacy for me and which strengthens the meaning of the service; it makes one vulnerable to each other and to the very existence of spirituality within oneself. This is what Judaism brings to me and is reinforced every time I go to services.
Although with services on Zoom, the warmth of being physically around others in synagogue isn’t there, nevertheless, the spirit and devotion is absolutely present for me each week.