City Paper is not for tourists
RABBI: Daniel G. Zemel
CONGREGATION SIZE: 140
ONEG LENGTH: 28 minutes
SERVICE LENGTH: 60 minutes
SAMPLE WORSHIPPER DRESS: Olive shorts, a striped polo shirt, and New Balance sneakers
CRYING TODDLERS: 1
GIFT SHOP: Yes
The service follows the oneg, a pre-service nosh that, one congregant says, “translates to ‘happy hour.’” Congregants gather round, singing songs such as “L’chu N’ran’nah” and “Yism’chu Ha-shamayim.” Visitors receive a ceremonial glass of wine from Zemel during the Kiddush. He greets the newbies with a flurry of welcoming Shabbat shaloms. Challah is also passed around. “We tear the bread,” explains one temple member, “because we don’t want to use a weapon in the temple.”
FOOD FOR THE SOUL
Following along with the service in the bilingual Gates of Prayer, where the pages turn in the Hebrew right-to-left fashion, can be confusing. So can the sermon: Zemel spoke recently on the Shema, the Jewish declaration of faith, and an argument between rabbis about standing or sitting for the prayer’s ritual customs. Contacted after the service for clarification, Zemel said, “It’s too complicated for your article.”
FOOD FOR THE BODY
Cookies—both black-and-white and chocolate-chip—as well as grapes, crackers, celery, carrots, hummus, raspberry juice, and carbonated water were offered on a recent Friday. “Oneg allows people to come from work and not want to gnaw their arm off from hunger,” says templegoer Sarah Puro.
OVERALL WORSHIP POWER RATING
It’s customary for congregants to sing along while Music Director Teddy Klaus strums his Martin acoustic guitar throughout the service. “Music helps in the sense of creating community,” he says. And for the serenity-challenged, Temple Micah is a perfect fit: A soundproof room allows children to see and hear the service without disturbing the rest of the congregation.
Art accompanying story in the printed newspaper is not available in this archive: Photograph by Darrow Montgomery.