Well, it technically was my third, but I'd missed most of the service where I volunteered for registration for the Shabbabeque last summer, and the second service was the Learner's Shabbat, which was a great primer for attending a service but not quite the same.
Don't know why it took me so long, but there it is.
I loved it.
I had trouble keeping up with some of the Hebrew but that's simply a matter of practice.
But I found myself entering a Sabbath state of mind.
We finish work at the synagogue at 4:00 p.m. -- plenty of time ahead of the earliest service starting but not quite enough to get home and come back again and a little too long to have dinner nearby. Which I guess is why it's taken me so long to get to an evening service.
I used the gap between work and the service starting to go sit somewhere quiet. It was a small greenspace that was artificially constructed, but the water and flowers made it a peaceful place to be. I completed my first lectio divina in ages. I sketched. I listened to part of a sermon.
It was peaceful and I could feel myself starting to unwind.
The purpose of the Friday evening service is to welcome in Shabbat and it was done with joyful song. Then there were psalms, prayers, readings, mostly in Hebrew but not all ... and ended in song, with arms about each other (which reminded me a lot of my church's tradition of holding hands during the Lord's Prayer), swaying and singing the word "Shalom" a lot.
Googling it, I found a translation of the words: "May the One who makes peace in high places, make peace for us and for all Israel, and let us say, amen."
And that's how I left, with a sense of blissful peace, which made a remarkable change from earlier in the week when I fretted and fumed about some Catholic doctrine -- it gave me a sense of perspective that I hadn't had before.
The whole experience left me wanting more of it because for the first time I'd found space in my week to be present, to rest and to breathe, instead of rushing off home or to the next thing. I'm considering making it a once a month practice.