Come join us for joyous, music filled and contemplative Shabbat services, inspiring and transformative Sunday morning adult education, moving bnei mitzvah services, and holiday celebrations.
Friday Night Services
Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath, is an obligation that is also a blessing. It is known as mekor habracha—the source of all blessings. If we allow Shabbat to set a rhythm to our week, if we make time to slow down, stop and reflect on the joys and challenges of the past six days, we will live a healthier, more modulated life.
But transitioning from work to rest is not as easy as it sounds. Most of us need help. This is the purpose of Kabbalat Shabbat, which literally means “receiving” or “welcoming” Shabbat. Through a blend of prayer, song, poetry, silent reflection, and Torah study, Rabbi Gerson, our cantor, and choir lead our community with music and words as we shift from “doing” to “being.”
Services begin each Friday evening at 7:00 and are preceded by an oneg (a light snack) offered from 6:30-7:00 PM, which provides the opportunity to schmooze and nosh before services.
Once a month (usually the first Friday of the month) our service is especially geared towards families with children, but is open to everyone and includes a congregational dinner. We also hold song-and-story filled quarterly tot Shabbat services, suitable for the smallest members of our congregation.
All are welcome. No Jewish knowledge or Hebrew required.
There’s a famous Jewish joke about our holidays which says they’re all the same – they tried to kill us, they failed, let’s eat. But here at GRS we aspire to expand our holiday observance beyond this truism, delve deeply into the rhythm of the Jewish year with our minds and hearts, and mark the holidays in ways joyous and solemn, celebratory and contemplative, with words and music. Click here for the dates of upcoming holiday observances.
High Holy Days: Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur services are more intensive than our Shabbat services. They include beautiful music from our cantor and choir, poetry and contemplative prayers from our High Holy Day prayerbook, Mishkan Hanefesh, and sermons by Rabbi Gerson. The Saturday night before Rosh HaShanah begins, we observe a special late night musical Selichot service filled with poetry and song. It is a special, contemplative evening that offers a gentle entryway into the season of repentance.
Two morning services are offered on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur – a shorter service for families with school-aged children at 8:30 followed by a full worship service geared toward adults at 11:00. On the second day of Rosh Hashanah, Rabbi Gerson leads a contemplative walk in Pomerance Park open to the entire community. GRS membership includes tickets to all High Holy Day services. Please click here to download a membership application and dues schedule.
Rosh Chodesh: Every month, at the new moon, the women of GRS join Rabbi Jordie and to welcome the new moon, check in friends and community, and sing and study. Rosh Chodesh is a holiday of and for Jewish women, and is centered around the moon, which, like women’s bodies, waxes and wanes. And though the holiday has existed for millennia, the dawn of the women’s movement led to the creation of Jewish women’s groups and monthly ceremonies marking Rosh Chodesh. Women began coming together to connect to their female ancestors — and each other — with song, prayer, discussion and celebration. Because there is no fixed liturgy or ritual, our celebration of Rosh Chodesh changes every week. Click here to check the calendar for the next celebration and call (203) 629-0018 to RSVP.
Life cycle events
Baby namings – Brit Milah (bris) and Brit ha Chayim
We at GRS love celebrating your simchas with you – joyous events like a Brit Milah (bris) or Brit Shalom for a boy, or Brit Ha-Chayim, the covenantal baby naming ceremony for girls. Jewish tradition marks children’s entry into the community and covenant with these ceremonies; as the Midrash explains: “With each baby, the world begins anew.”
Brit Milah: From the time of Abraham and Sarah, Jews have been circumcising their sons. (Genesis, Chapter 17, Verse 12): “And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every male throughout your generations.” GRS will help you find a local mohel or mohelet to perform the ritual circumcision (brit milah or bris) of your son. We can also assist with a naming ceremony – or brit shalom – for your family if you wish to have the circumcision in a hospital.
Brit Ha-Chayim: The tradition here at GRS is to welcome baby girls into the covenant of Israel with a naming ceremony. Whether you prefer to name your daughter at a Shabbat service or in a private ceremony, we are happy to work with you to craft a meaningful ceremony.
Bar/Bat Mitzvah and Confirmation
The process of becoming a Bar/Bat Mitzvah is one of the oldest coming of age rituals in the world. To become a bar or bat mitzvah means – literally – to become a son or daughter of the mitzvot, the commandments, become a young adult in the Jewish community. And, at GRS, the process of becoming a bar mitzvah is a multi-year process; one that prepares children to embrace their responsibilities as Jewish adults. This means the smaller things – like fasting on Yom Kippur to taking initiative to do chores at home – and more broadly, an ongoing commitment to tikkun olam (social action), being a mensch (a good, ethical and kind person) and living a Jewish life (regular Shabbat dinners and holiday observance).
Throughout this journey, our clergy and Religious School teachers guide and support students to insure that they will ascend the bimah with confidence and excitement.
Formal Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparations begin approximately six months prior to a child’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah date. Students work individually with Rabbi Gerson once a week on either Tuesday or Wednesday afternoons. Bar/Bat Mitzvah candidates are also required to attend our Religious School’s seventh grade class and a B’nai Mitzvah workshop. In addition, all B’Nai Mitzvah candidates must complete a Tikkun Olam project by participating in a community service project to fulfill the obligation of g’milut chasadim (acts of loving kindness).
Rabbi Gerson offers warm, contemporary, and personalized Jewish wedding ceremonies. She will marry interfaith couples (provided they intend to have a Jewish home and family) and same-gender couples. Upon contacting GRS, you will come in for an initial meeting, providing the opportunity to see if Rabbi Gerson is the right officiant for you, ask questions, and learn more about Jewish weddings. During subsequent meetings, Rabbi Gerson will work with you to craft a service that is personalized while grounded in our tradition. For more information, contact Rabbi Gerson at email@example.com or (203) 629-0018.
Illness and End-of-Life Concerns
The GRS congregational family is here for members at every stage of life. Rabbi Gerson and our community can provide pastoral care, meal support, and serve as a source of comfort during times of illness and sorrow. We also want to know when you’re not well – please contact the temple office to let us know if you have an upcoming surgery, are ill, or need support.