This year's High Holy Day season will include a combination of on-site and online experiences. While they certainly will be different in kind than what we have experienced in the past, we pledge, as a community, to pour every ounce of ingenuity and spirit into this moment, creating an interactive, inviting, and meaningful excursion into prayer, memory, and renewal.
For services not streamed on our Live-Stream, please click the Zoom icon to join us.
Complete Guide & Resources: High Holy Days
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A Message From Our Clergy
Rosh Hashanah is almost here and we are excited to begin the new year with you either on-site or on-screen. It is hard to believe that for the second consecutive year our High Holy Days will have a different look and feel to them. We know that far fewer people will be coming to the synagogue for services and that many of our members will be accessing our offerings on-line. What we have planned are services, educational opportunities and programming that we hope will create a sense of community and shared celebration even when we are not all together in-person.
If you will be viewing this year’s services from home, you should know that the experience will be noticeably different from last year’s. Everything you see will be happening in real time. Nothing has been pre-recorded. Cantor Saralee will be with us on-site and her voice will blend that much more beautifully with those singing with her on the bimah and in the congregation. You will see Torah readers and those who have aliyot on the bimah at the same time (though not alongside one another) and the number of people coming to the bimah will be enhanced from last year. We will be employing our new live streaming capabilities in the sanctuary and we hope that you will feel the presence of many more people taking part in the services.
If you are planning to join us in the synagogue, please note that proof of vaccination will be required. We kindly ask that you submit that before the holidays arrive so that we will have a record of your vaccination on file, but you can also bring your evidence of vaccination with you when you come to the synagogue for services. Once you are here, we will be seating individuals and families in a way that maintains proper social distancing. While some sanctuary seats have been reserved, most will be available on a first-come, first-served basis which is a new aspect of our services, one which we hope will bring a greater sense of togetherness to our sanctuary. And, of course, we will require that everyone remain masked (save for those who are speaking or chanting from one of the microphones) while you are in any part of the building. The outdoor courtyard will be reserved for those who wish to take a mask break.
As we did last year, we have condensed the services in significant ways. This will allow us to have people in the sanctuary for less time than in year’s past (a health and safety measure) and will also mean that those viewing at home are not watching your screens for hours-on-end.
For those in the synagogue or at home who would like to take a break from the sanctuary service, a study opportunity with one of the rabbis will take place each day at 11:00 AM. Folks at home will need to switch to the Zoom link for these sessions and we expect that sharing the screen with others for half-an-hour will be a nice alternative to the live streaming.
Without question, coming to the synagogue has the advantage of allowing you to enter a space prepared for the purpose of worship. Sitting at home, with a myriad of distractions, will undoubtedly make feeling “prayerful” more challenging.
With that in mind, we offer the following suggestions (some from last year):
1. Before you sit down in the chair or on the sofa which will become your pew for the service, consider leaving your house for a few moments and re-entering so as to feel that you are coming into a new space.
2. Have your machzor (High Holy Day prayer book) ready and waiting for you when you arrive in your prayer space.
3. In whatever room you will be praying, determine in which direction you will need to face when it is time to face eastward. That is the direction of Jerusalem and, therefore, the direction we face for certain prayers (Barchu, the Amidah, Aleinu).
4. On whatever device you are using to access the service, turn off the feature that allows messages to pop-up or notifications of emails or texts to appear on your screen.
5. If you should happen to lose interest in a portion of the service, rather than check your emails or switch to a different channel, explore the machzor. There are interesting explanations and wonderful readings to be found in the margins of every page.
6. Introduce something beautiful to the area in which you will be praying. In the synagogue, we decorate the bimah with fresh flowers. You would be surprised at what a difference a bouquet of colorful flowers will make to your mental and emotional state.
TWO IMPORTANT SERVICE ITEMS
Early portion of the morning service - The morning service typically begins with Birchot HaShachar (the morning blessings) and Pesukei D’Zimrah (the introductory psalms) prior to the formal start of Shacharit (the morning service) with Barchu. However, everything prior to Barchu can be recited by an individual without the presence of a minyan. In an effort to condense the morning service into our shortened time-frame, we will begin the service on all three mornings with Nishmat Kol Chai (p. 67) just before Barchu. The earlier pieces of the service can be recited individually prior to 10:00am.
Shacharit Amidah - To preserve time, we will begin what would be the repetition of the Amidah together with Cantor Saralee and collectively recite the special piyyutim (liturgical poems). The remainder of the Amidah will not be chanted by Saralee aloud, but will instead be a time for individuals to recite the Amidah privately.
Musaf Amidah - Following Cantor Saralee’s chanting of Hineni and the Chatzi Kaddish, she will proceed to the repetition of the Musaf Amidah and we will be chanting the Amidah along with her rather than reciting independently the private version of the Amidah. Those who wish to recite the private version of the Amidah prior to its repetition are encouraged to recite it at the conclusion of the haftarah.
May this be a year of blessings, joy, fulfilment, love, good health and peace. And, we pray that next Rosh Hashanah we will all be back in the synagogue - unmasked - enjoying the camaraderie and the sweetness that is best felt when we are all together.
L’shanah tovah tikateivu - May you be inscribed for a good new year.