Suffolk Liberal Jewish Community


A shabbat service


The Jewish Sabbath is on a Saturday. Our community holds services once a month, and on Saturday 23rd November we will be running an interfaith service. It will be a standard service, but with explanations and commentary as we go along. The service lasts a little over an hour. Most of the material will be in English. There are parallel translations in the prayer book for the Hebrew passages, and transliterations will be available for those who feel brave enough to join in; we think Hebrew is a beautiful language to speak.


The skeleton of all Jewish Sabbath services worldwide is the same. The flesh and the clothing vary. Our community is, as you will see above, Liberal. We use more English and introduce modern material. We hope our services are accessible any time, but will be making a special effort to make this one so.


The centrepiece of the Sabbath morning service is the reading from the scroll containing the first five books of the Bible. Our community does not have a proper scroll but we have a reproduction, which will give you an idea of what it looks like.


A Jewish service requires neither a consecrated building nor an ordained person – which is just as well because our little community in Suffolk is much too small to have either. We will be using the Friends Meeting House (39 Fonnereau Road, Ipswich) and the service will be led by a member of our community. We count ourselves lucky if we have 15 people attending so, although this is a religious service, it has an informal atmosphere. We are not solemn.


The service starts at 11. There is no dress code. For guidance, the leader of the service will not be wearing a jacket or tie. Jewish men cover their head with a skull cap at services; it is not required for non-Jews, but we will have some available if you wish to do so. Images you have seen will probably show women and men seated separately; this is “clothing” not “skeleton”, and is not practised in the Liberal community.


After the service we adjourn for kiddush, a sanctification of the day over a token glass of wine, and a short grace over challah, a special loaf of bread. You are invited to stay on for the shared lunch. If you would like to bring a contribution, it would be gratefully received. We are not strictly kosher, but as a general guideline it would be safe to bring a vegetarian savoury, or a sweet dish (no pork or shellfish). There will be an opportunity to meet each other and to find out more about our community. Unless you want to question us all afternoon, you should be away by 1.30.


We look forward to welcoming you.