The service was very good and alternated between joyous and solemn. Officially, it is know as the Kabbalat Shabbat, the service which is the time of welcoming the Sabbath. There was magnificent music, a great deal of participation from the congregation, and a point where every child in the room - and some of the adults - joined hands and danced their way among the aisles and past the ark (which A. and I thought MB would have absolutely loved had she been there). There was a pretty even mix between sung and spoken prayers, and thankfully - in addition to translations of each in English - there were spelled out pronunciations of the Hebrew so that we could try (as best we could) to sing and speak along with them.
Two of my favorites were one of the opening songs and the one sung at the end of the service, the words of which (in order) were:
Hallelu...Kok han'shama, t'haleil yah, halelu, haleluya! (Loosely translated, this means, "The breath of every living thing praises God," and comes from Psalm 150.)
Mi shebeirach imoteinu, m'kor hab'racha l'avoteinu. Bless those in need of healing with r'fua sh'leima, the renewal of body, the renewal of spirit and let us say: Amen.
One of the latter parts of the service was the very moving saying of the Kaddish in memory of all those who have died, whether it be in recent weeks or within the past year. The rabbi asks that everyone sit silently as the names of those individuals are read out loud, and as each name is read the family members of those men and women stand in silence. Others in the congregation are then given the opportunity to stand and offer the names of loved ones who have died. At the end, the entire congregation joins in a show of support for all of these family members by saying the prayer (the text of which I don't have in front of me, but an example of which can be heard here). I've often read of people saying the Kaddish for their loved ones, but it's very powerful to actually hear it being done.
The service ended and we were invited to join them at their reception before heading home. We didn't stay long, just enough time to thank the rabbi once again for allowing us to attend and to talk to our host a bit more (who was very kind and said we were welcome to visit at any time). I had hoped to have an opportunity to talk with one gentleman in particular, the Temple's founding rabbi and a survivor of Auschwitz, but it never worked out (I certainly hope to have a chance to do so in the future).
Much is made of the fact that the world's three great religions - Christianity, Judaism, and Islam - are all descended from Abraham. To truly understand the root of your faith, no matter which denomination or religion it may be, it would be well worth your time to try and make a visit similar to that A. and I made to Temple Rodef Shalom; you'll be moved, you'll be inspired, and you'll get a glimpse of what lies at the very heart of where we are today.