About the Tunes (Nusach)

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How to Make a Shabbat Service More Engaging

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Making Your Synagogue More Welcoming

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Friday Night Services

Explore this section to find out more about the Friday night service, different kinds of Nusach that are the soundtrack of Shabbat and how to make your synagogue a more welcoming place.

There are usually three separate services on a Friday night. They are often recited in succession and will take 45-75 minutes to recite. (The difference in length of service may depend on how little/much is sung.)

The three services are:

  • Mincha this is the weekday Afternoon Service and centres on the central quiet standing prayer known as the Amidah. In the presence of a minyan (ten Jewish men praying together), this prayer is repeated aloud by the prayer leader.
  • Kabbalat Shabbat these introductory psalms and songs close off the week and herald the incoming Shabbat. They are often very melodious and capture the spirit of a special day that is about to begin.
  • Maariv  this is the Evening Prayer. It has a similar structure to the weekday Evening Prayer, but is adapted to reference the Shabbat.

You can find all of these prayers in the New Singers Siddur on pages 171, 256 and 274 respectively.

Many tunes which are sung in the synagogue have very unique qualities to them, and they can help you find your way through the Shabbat synagogue service.With a little experience and time, you can start to recognise these tunes.

When you hear certain melodies you can tell:

  • Whether it is Shabbat, festival or weekday service
  • What service it is
  • What message the particular prayer is giving to us: happy, sad, energetic or sombre

The name for this service-specific musical style is called Nusach or musical liturgy and is an authentic and beautiful part of our Jewish Tradition. The music of our tradition is the ultimate GPS for the Jewish Year.

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