Each service is a bit different and serves a unique purpose in prayer. Use this explanation of the Shabbat services to learn what’s going on in each service.
Friday Night: Kabbalat Shabbat
In this lively and spirited service, we welcome in the Shabbat Queen, a symbolic representation of the holiness of the Sabbath. We sing some psalms and songs praising God with really beautiful melodies. Sometimes, we’re so excited about the melodies that we sing them without words—we just say “yai lai lai.”
Welcoming the Shabbat Queen is so crucial to the service that at the end of the prayer Lecha Dodi, we actually stand up and face the entrance of the room to welcome in this holy presence.
Friday Night: Ma’ariv
Ma’ariv is the evening service that is said every night of the week; but on Shabbat, there is a special melody and special additions. Some landmark prayers include the Barchu (call to worship), Sh’ma (declaration of God’s oneness), V’Shamru (the explanation of why we rest on Shabbat), and the Amidah (a lengthy prayer of praising God and Shabbat).
Saturday Morning: Pesukei DiZimra
This is like a warm-up to the service. Some people rush through it, but it’s actually got some cool things in it. We talk about creation, we talk about things we’re thankful for like food and clothes and waking up from sleep, and other interesting stuff.
Saturday Morning: Shacharit
Shacharit is the name for the daily morning service, but on Shabbat, it’s extra special. This is where the meat of the service is. Prayers to note: Hatzi Kaddish (the prayer that separates parts of the service), Barchu (call to worship), El Adon (goes in alphabetical order by line and has a fun melody), Sh’ma (declaration of God’s oneness), and the Amidah (literally “standing,” praising God and Shabbat and other fun stuff).
Saturday Morning: Torah Service
Jews are part of the world’s biggest book club. The book? The Torah. We take the Torah out of the Ark, the place where the Torah resides. We parade it around the room, kissing it with our siddur or tallit to show our respect. We read a portion of the Torah each week in a special melody called trope. After the Torah reading, someone reads the Haftarah, a supplemental reading not from the Five Books of Moses like the Torah, but from the prophets (Nevi’im) or writings (Ketuvim).
Saturday Morning: Musaf
The name “Musaf” literally means “additional,” and this service is an additional service. It is short and includes a Kaddish, Amidah, and concluding prayers.
Saturday Afternoon: Mincha
This service symbolizes the beginning of the end of Shabbat. We read prayers of praise, then read a sneak preview of next week’s Torah portion, then end with the Amidah and the concluding prayers.
Saturday Evening: Ma’ariv
As it gets dark and Shabbat is only minutes away from ending, we have the Ma’ariv service. This service serves as a transition between Shabbat and weekday services. The service is almost identical to weekday Ma’ariv services, but has the addition of prayers thanking G-d for Shabbat.
Saturday Night: Havdalah
A very beautiful service, Havdalah uses concrete symbols to represent the transition between Shabbat and the rest of the week. We drink wine to carry the sweetness of Shabbat with us, smell spices to help us remember Shabbat, and hold a twisted candle unique to the service. Shabbat is officially over after Ma’ariv, but just as Kabbalat Shabbat welcomes the Shabbat Queen, Havdalah says goodbye to Shabbat in the form of a meaningful ceremony.