BTS is dedicated to the value of inclusion. We welcome all – Jewish or not, LGBTQ, straight, Jews-by-choice, interfaith families, multiracial, multicultural, married, single, families and individuals, old, and young alike – to join us for services at BTS at any time. This policy includes Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and the festive Sukkot and Simchat Torah holidays which follow. There is no cost to attend services, but we do need your names in advance for security purposes and we encourage attendees to make a donation of any amount to help support the congregation and to keep these services free and available to all. Please call the BTS office at 860-243-3576 to reserve your place.
Services at BTS are open and accessible. Everyone is welcome. Come as you are! Join in our inspired and inspiring davvening (praying), which always features singing and lively participation.
FRIDAY EVENING/KABBALAT SHABBAT – 7:00 pm, followed by a sit-down Oneg Shabbat
Shabbat Shalom! We welcome Shabbat by chanting a series of beautiful psalms celebrating the six days of Creation, culminating with a rousing rendition of the mystical hymn Lecha Dodi and the psalm for Shabbat. Before moving on to the rest of the evening service, Rabbi Cantor offers a D’var Torah, a word of teaching relating to Shabbat and the events of the past week. After services, we recite Kiddush together and enjoy each other’s company as we enjoy Shabbat goodies.
SATURDAY MORNING – 9:30 am, followed by a light lunch
The Shabbat morning service at BTS blends elements of communal and personal prayer. While much of our service is sung aloud together, you will notice times when parts of the prayers are chanted aloud by whoever is leading the service, as well as quiet moments when we pray or meditate silently. Most of the service is in Hebrew, but there are very frequent page announcements. Praying in English is perfectly fine and welcome, and we encourage you to sing or hum along with our lively melodies, whether or not you know the words!
The heart of the Saturday morning service is the Torah reading and discussion. Each week, after taking out the Torah scrolls from the Ark, the congregation participates in a lively and interesting Torah study session, led by the rabbi. Usually, these are based on text study sheets which Rabbi Cantor prepares and hands out (along with chocolate so that we are sustained both physically and spiritually!).
BTS members who graciously volunteer to read Torah, chant haftarah, and lead various parts of the service lead the Shabbat morning services side by side with the rabbi. We love to have as many voices as possible leading the congregation! BTS is an egalitarian congregation, welcoming people of all genders to participate and lead us.
Whenever someone is called up for an honor or leadership role in the service, we congratulate them afterwards with the Hebrew phrase: “Yasher koach!” which can be loosely translated as “May you have strength!” The nicest blessing we can offer people who have performing a mitzvah/commandment is that they be privileged to perform another one in the future. Have you recently done a mitzvah? Yasher Koach!
WHAT TO WEAR
Remember that show called “What Not to Wear”? That’s not the way we roll at BTS. Our style is “come as you are” – whether that’s casual or straight from a meeting at work.
In our lobby, you’ll find a basket of colorful kippot/yarmulkas. We require men to cover their heads at services and encourage women to do so as well. Anyone who is called up to the bimah (pulpit) for an honor must wear a head-covering as a sign of respect.
On Shabbat and holiday mornings, many adult Jews wear a tallit/tallis (prayer shawl). The fringes on this garment serve as a reminder of the biblical commandment to perform mitzvot. Some people bring their own talliot/talleisim, but we also have a large supply of them in a cabinet in the lobby. Men and women are welcome to put one on if they wish!
Want to learn more about the structure of the Shabbat morning service? Here are some great links:
Please share in our joy for Shabbat by joining us for the Kiddush (blessing over wine or grape juice) immediately following the service. After the Kiddush has been recited, we customarily ritually wash our hands and say HaMotzi, the blessing for bread. Everyone is then invited to sit down together and enjoy a light dairy lunch.
WEEKDAY EVENING MINYANIM/SERVICES
We know how to celebrate at BTS! From lively holiday evening and morning services to meals, pre-holiday workshops and special events, our holiday celebrations are always free and open to everyone. Join our email list or check the website for details on upcoming holiday activities.
HIGH HOLIDAYS/YAMIM NORA’IM
Each Fall, the High Holiday season of return and renewal calls us to connect and reconnect with one another, with G-d, and with our deepest selves. We invite you to join us at BTS for this yearly spiritual journey.
Wishing you a sweet year! We greet the new year on Rosh Hashanah eve with a short service, followed by our annual “Honey Oneg” – featuring more than 50 varieties of honey from around the world.
We offer services on the two days of Rosh Hashanah; on the Second Day, Rabbi Cantor leads the congregation in a participatory Community Text Study, following the shofar service.
On Erev Yom Kippur, before Kol Nidrei, we participate in the “Project Isaiah” annual food drive for the Anja Rosenberg Kosher Food Pantry.
During Yom Kippur, our services are meant to be thought-provoking and inspirational, as each one of us engages in the important and challenging work of introspection and reconnection. Our Ne’ilah service at the close of the day is especially meaningful; anyone who wishes may come up to the open Ark to offer personal silent prayers. At the conclusion of Yom Kippur, we invite everyone with a shofar to join us on the bimah for a final mighty blast of tekiyah gedolah!