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Services at City Shul

Shabbat at City Shul is a welcoming, restful, songful and joyful experience. We meet once a month on Friday nights: our Adult Kabbalat Shabbat focuses on quiet gratitude and beautiful communal singing for those who do not need kid's activities or childcare and is often accompanied by guitar and darbuka (large African drum) and at various times during the year, a klezmer trio. Family Service is with guitar, stories and songs and little ones gleefully running around, dancing and singing. Both kinds of Friday night services last about an hour and are followed by an optional dinner. Folks are welcome to just come to services or to stay after for dinner.

We meet three and sometimes four times a month on Saturday mornings where we learn together, educate ourselves by hearing a dvar Torah, sing a lot of tunes both traditional and modern—we love to sing!—and hear Torah and haftarah reading. Then we enjoy each other's company at kiddush to which everyone is invited. Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, aufrufs and baby namings of City Shul members are celebrated within this context, and the entire synagogue is invited to both the service and kiddush then as well. Once a month we add Family Service and Tot Shabbat for families with younger kids.

You can find all our upcoming service dates and times here.


What "style" of services are they?
All of our services are fully egalitarian, with equal participation of men and women. We use Gates of Prayer, the Reform prayerbook, with mostly Hebrew for the chanting/singing parts, adding English creative readings. If you don't read Hebrew we happily provide a transliteration booklet where the Hebrew prayers are written phonetically in English letters, so you can join right in. Most people find our services quite traditional (we pray a full silent Amidah with a repetition on Saturdays, for example) while we do not have Musaf, we read only a third of the Torah portion (on the triennial cycle) in three and sometimes 7 aliyot, and we may read only a portion of the haftarah. 

What about children? Children are always welcome to come in and out of our Saturday services. If there's a time we need quiet-like the mourner's Kaddish, for example, or during the dvar Torah-we will ask them to wait outside for a moment. Family Friday nights are totally geared for children. Older children who can sit through an hour service without activities or childcare are welcome at Adult Kabbalat Shabbat. On Saturdays we always-even on Bar/Bat Mitzvah days-have Club Katan (ages 7-11, crafts, music, discussion, and Judaic-themed games) plus the "Prayground"-an area in the sanctuary where parents can sit with playing toddlers-for little ones. Children begin with us in the "main" service up until after the silent Amidah, then are welcome to stay or go off to their various activities. At the end of the service the children are invited to come up for a blessing, and to get a treat if they haven't already gathered the thrown candies at our Bar/Bat Mitzvah child! Throughout the year, about once a month, we add a Saturday Family "Mishpacha" service filled with music and family-friendly activities for all ages, Tot Shabbat, a 60 minute programme for ages 1-5 that focuses on song, movement, a fun and do-able craft, and Jewish time together with a parent; and Bar/Bat Mitzvah Club, a special programme with our shins for grades 6 and 7. Dates fro these special programmes appear under "service dates."

Can I come just for services and not stay for kiddush? 
Yes, we are happy to share Shabbat with you.  

What should I wear to City Shul services? Do people "dress up"?
You'll see people at City Shul wearing suits, jeans, funky garments, fancy garments, sandals, dress shoes, sneakers and even no shoes. Ties or tie-dyes. Some folks make Shabbat special by dressing up. Some folks make Shabbat special by dressing down. Your choice.

I'm not Jewish. Can I come? 
Sure! Let us know if you want someone to sit beside you and guide you through the service.

I am Jewish, but maybe I'm not "Jewish enough." I haven't been to shul in a long time/never. Can I come? Will I have to do or say something? 
Yes, yes you are "Jewish enough", and yes, please come! You won't have to do a thing; you can say "hi" and introduce yourself but you don't even have to do that if you don't want to! You can hide in a corner or come up to the bima for an aliyah. Your choice. We will help you through the service if you want someone to point out stuff to you. Please email our Rabbi if you'd like a "shul buddy" to sit with at the service and after.

I'm not a member of City Shul. Can I come?
Yes! We'll be happy to have you participate with us.

Does the Rabbi always lead services? Does the Rabbi give a sermon? Is there a Cantor? Choir?
We are a participatory congregation. Sometimes the Rabbi leads and sometimes a congregant. Sometimes the Rabbi offers a dvar Torah and sometimes a congregant. Our Rabbi rarely gives formal sermons except on High Holidays, and special Shabbatot, using instead either an interactive or short dvar Torah model. We have a lay Cantor on Saturdays and on Friday nights different talented congregants take the musical lead. We do not have a choir but we have many congregants who love to sing, have lovely voices, harmonize, and make our singing especially, well...special. We mix traditional tunes, Shlomo Carlebach-type tunes, new Israeli tunes, tunes learned from other synagogues, the spirited new tunes coming out of the Reform movement, and old favourites.

Does everyone know each other already?
No! We are a new shul and new folks are "trying us out" all the time, joining us all the time, and getting involved all the time. We pride ourselves on being warm and welcoming to every person who comes and we are excited to meet them and get to know them. We were all new once!

Is City Shul wheelchair accessible? Is there handicapped parking?
We meet at 300 Bloor Street West, which has an accessible sanctuary and access to accessible washrooms on the main floor. There is handicapped parking and an accessible entrance in the parking lot off Huron. 

Sun, January 17 2021 4 Sh'vat 5781