One of the very special aspects of OJC is how people are encouraged and welcomed to participate in services. It is not something that only a select few get to experience, but anyone can receive a special honor and participate in Shabbat services. In fact, this is such a vital component of OJC that we try to help people learn what’s involved and any blessings that may need to be read so they can feel comfortable doing it on Shabbat. If you would like an Aliyah or Honor at an upcoming Shabbat, please let us know.
1. Aliyah: Going up to the torah – A blessing is said before and after the Torah reading. We’ve created an “Aliyah Cheat Sheet” so you will know what to expect and can learn the blessings and the tune from our own Cantor Elon.
2. Opening and closing the ark at the beginning or at the end of the Torah service. Up to 4 people can be called for this honor.
You will get to open and close the Ark when we take the Torah out to be read an when we return it back to the Ark after the readings have been completed. When the Torah service begins, you will hear the Rabbi/service leader say “Please rise as the Ark is opened”. This is your cue to go up to the Bimah.
Usually we have two Ark openers. Each will take a place on either side of the Ark. You will slide the doors of the Ark open and will close them before the procession. When the Torah procession moves through the sanctuary, you can follow one of the Torah scrolls around the congregation or return to your seat.
After the Torah service is completed, the Rabbi/service leader will call up those honored and the Ark will be opened again so the Torah can be returned to the Ark.
3. Carrying the Torah at the beginning or end of the Torah service.
You will get to hold and carry one Torah scroll during the Torah service and procession. When the Torah service begins, the Rabbi/service leader will say “Please rise as the Ark is opened.” This is your cue to to go up to the Bimah.
When it is time, you will be handed one Torah scroll. It is customary to hold the Torah on your right side, except if you are left-handed. You will hold the Torah as the Shema is recited. During “Gadlu Adonai,” turn and face the Ark and bow slightly. The Torah procession will then begin and you will walk down the right side of the center aisle, moving slowly enough so people can kiss the Torah. At the end of the aisle, you will turn around and walk down the other side of the aisle, again slowly so people can kiss the Torah. Once you return to the Bimah, the Rabbi/Gabbai’im will direct you.
4. Lifting the Torah (referred to as Hagbah) at the end of the Torah reading.
The B’al Korah/Cantor will chant “Ya’mod Hagbad, Ya’mod G’lilah” calling you to the Bimah. In this you will also be asked for your Hebrew name. You will walk up to the Bimah. The Rabbi or one of the Gabba’im (people standing on either side of the podium during the Torah service) will signal you to lift the Torah. To complete the lift, grab one wooden spool with each hand, slightly lift and pull the Torah over the edge of the podium toward you, then press down on the spools for leverage. The top of the Torah will rise–as it does, simply lift straight up (so that your hands are about eye level).
If you are able, turn so the text of the Torah is facing the congregation. Then proceed to the seat nearest to the Ark. Hold the Torah as it is being dressed. Once complete, the Rabbi/service leader may take the Torah from you. If you continue holding the scroll during the Haftarah, you may return to your seat after the Torah is replaced in the Ark.
5. Dressing the Torah after it has been lifted and rolled up (referred to as Gelilah).
The B’al Korah/Cantor will chant “Ya’mod Hagbad, Ya’mod G’lilah” and you will walk up to the Bimah. In this you will also be asked for your Hebrew name. The Torah will be lifted and you will be guided by one of the Gabba’im (people standing on either side of the podium during the Torah service) to roll the Torah and bind it with the Torah wrapper. You will then dress the Torah with the cover and mantel. Hang the silver yad (pointer) on the right spindle, then place the crowns on each spindle.
6. Children are invited to carry the Torah crowns at the beginning or end of the Torah service.
Aliyahs can be given out for birthdays, yahrzeits, anniversaries or any other important dates you would like to honor. Just make the request either to the main office or email Dorie Lynn to make the request.