Congregation Shalom Rav sponsors regular Shabbat services and family Holy Day celebrations, providing varied opportunities for collective worship and drawing from both the Reconstructionist and Renewal traditions.
Reconstructionist services are characterized by equal roles for both genders and by the use of translations of the Hebrew prayers that do not employ gender-biased language, as well as alternate versions of some prayers that many contemporary Jews find problematic. Our prayerbook, Kol HaNeshamah, contains extensive transliteration and notes, as well as interpretative versions of prayers in English, to aid in understanding the prayers both intellectually and spiritually.
“Reconstructionists tend to conduct more intimate worship services in which everyone is involved and the rabbi, if there is one, does not dominate.”
Exploring Judaism: A Reconstructionist Approach by Rebecca T. Alpert and Jacob J. Staub
Services and study groups are facilitated by Rabbi Monty Eliasov, who was ordained by Rabbi Gershon Winkler and studied Chassidic prayer styles under the guidance of the founder of the Jewish Renewal movement, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. Rabbi Monty teaches extensively from the Kabbalah and he is an active teacher and leader in the Austin spiritual community.
Our monthly Shabbat evening services are accompanied by Musical Directors Barbara Taft and Abraham Davidson. Their contributions are especially appreciated for our Shalom Rav High Holiday Services and for other celebrations and ceremonies that occur throughout the year.
In addition to services for major holy days – Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Simchat Torah, Chanukah, tu BiShvat, Purim, Passover, Shavuot – Shalom Rav currently offers three types of Shabbat activities.
Once a month, the Congregation provides a Shabbat evening service that is geared towards the congregation as a whole. We originally instituted this service to bring the meaning and focus of our High Holiday services into the entire year! A captivating mix of prayers, teachings, sharing and songs that best encapsulate the spirit of the whole Congregation, this one-hour service is for a wide variety of ages. Our Musical Directors, Barbara Taft and Abraham Davidson, help make this a delightful service. At each service we invite a guest speaker to present a topic of Jewish interest through a Five Minute Power Presentation. Past presenters have included topics on Israel, Jewish Family Services, and Green Burial options in Austin. This service is held on the first Friday night Shabbat of each month and is followed by a lively Potluck Kiddush.
This is an ongoing and wonderful monthly Shabbat morning service for families with young children from toddlers to Religious School age. Parents experience a recharging of their own spiritual batteries that are often nearly depleted by the joyous demands of child-raising. The service is a hybrid of both a “Tot Shabbat” style of service and a “Family Service” where the education happens through the service itself. Song, music, story, movement, dance, sharing, and prayer all blend together to blur the distinction between a prayer service and an educational session. This service is held on a Shabbat morning at one of our member’s homes.
Our once a month Torah Service begins with a teaching from the Parshah of the week. Rabbi Monty and members of the congregation who elect to lay-lead then cover all seven segments of the Shabbat morning service as originally taught by Reb Zalman. We include one Aliyah Torah reading accompanied by a translation of the reading. Music is provided by Rabbi Monty or other members of the congregation. This service is held at a member’s home and is held on Shabbat morning from 11:00 to 12:30 followed by the Kiddush and potluck luncheon.
We are delighted to receive many visitors and guests in addition to our membership at our annual Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur services. The services are meaningful and provide a renewing of spirit and a time to spend together with the community, with the introspection that accompanies these Days of Awe.
In addition, Shalom Rav sponsors the following annual Holy Days: Sukkot, Hoshana Raba, Simchat Torah, Hanukkah, Tu B’Shvat, Purim, Passover Seder, Shavuot and back to the High Holiday Sing in the Fall. Most of these celebrations are hosted by members at their homes. These are all wonderful opportunities for families with children to join in and enjoy.