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High Holiday Resources

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There's no doubt that celebrating the High Holiday from your home is very different than gathering with hundreds of others in our beautiful Sanctuary.  We all wish we could physically be together to share the joy and awe of the prayers, music and rituals and the sense of community that define the High Holidays for so many of us.  We can acknowledge that this year will feel different.    However, different doesn't need to mean less or inferior.  There are things we can all do to enhance our at home observances and worship as we welcome 5781.

(Some of the suggestions below came from Enhancing the Zoom Experience for the High Holidays.)



What are ways of empowering the home as a sanctuary? What might repair look like in this moment? What are ways of supporting reflection on who we were last year and who we want to be this year?

The URJ, with a generous gift from the Righteous Persons Foundation, has created three signature experiences to help you connect to your spirituality at a time and place that best fits your needs.  Some can be done in solitude; some people may choose to do them with those with whom they live. 

To enter into this conversation, visit

Plan Ahead

Plan Ahead

A little planning goes a long way.  This year, our planning not only addresses logistical needs (e.g., where will we watch the services, how can the kids participate, etc.).  Our mental planning to shift our thinking and emotionally prepare for a period of self reflection has never been more important.  Take some time to prepare, so your worship and observance are given the degree of attention and importance they deserve, instead of becoming an afterthought that you simply squeeze into your day or evening.

Table with Flowers

Find a Location for Your Worship

Normally, you don't have to think about where you are going to worship or congregate during the High Holidays.  This year, we each have to find a space in our home that will enable the experience we want.

What space in my home can best support the experience I want to have?  Is it the most comfortable space? The most formal space? The space where I spend a lot of time, or a space that rarely gets used?

How do I want to decorate my chosen space? Do I want photos? Family treasures?  Books?  Art?  Flowers?

How can I minimize distractions while I worship?  Can I turn off cell phones, land lines and other devices?  If there are others in my home who are not participating, what can I do to protect the sanctity of my space and limit interruptions?

Hands on Keyboard

Test Your Technology in Advance

I've used Zoom before.  This will be a no-brainer!  Famous last words.

You will have approximately three links: a URL for streamed services and two Zoom links for other Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur observances.  Keep your links organized, and test your links and connections prior to the start time and date for each service.  There's nothing more frustrating than being ready to watch or join a service but encounter a technical issue. 

If you are not already familiar with Zoom, we encourage you to do the following at least one day before services.  This gives you time to address any technical issue or questions you may have.

  • Install the Zoom app on the device(s) you will be using to join services.  Go to
    - Select Zoom Client for Meetings for a computer/laptop.
    - Select Zoom Mobile Apps for phones/tablets.
  • Familiarize yourself with Zoom controls by viewing our quick reference guide.

Screen Cast

Cast or Connect to Your TV

Okay, this one is a bit more technical.  If you have no idea of what we are talking about,  feel free to move on.  If you do, consider casting or connecting to your TV to enhance your experience.

Technology is wonderful, and we are so lucky to have it at our disposal, especially this year.  However, there's something about staring at a phone, tablet or computer screen that can make things feel small or less important.  If you can cast or connect to your TV so you can watch services on a large screen, give it a try.  It may help you enjoy enhanced sound with our music and a greater sense of connection to those leading our worship.


Think About Your Attire

Seriously.  Many of us have rotated between pajamas and "dressy sweats" for months.  However, the High Holidays may be a time to pull out something a bit nicer.  Worshiping from home means you have the flexibility to dress more comfortably and less formally than you do in our sanctuary.  However, our dress reflects the importance and nature of an event.

Consider selecting comfortable clothing that is nicer than your everyday clothing.  Do you want to wear a tallis, yarmulke, or other ritual object that helps you feel connected to Judaism and our ritual?  You want the High Holidays to feel distinct from the other days of your week.  Clothing can help create that feeling of separation and distinctness.  

Don't have a tallis?  Our Sisterhood has a collection for sale.  Contact Susan Esserman if you would like to purchase a tallis from our Sisterhood.

Ritual items

Gather Your Ritual Items

Bring together the ritual items you need in advance.  "What kinds of items?" you ask:

  • Candles and candle holders
  • Yahrzeit candles
  • Tallit
  • Round challah
  • Wine and kiddush cup
  • Apples and honey
  • Shofar

Considering adding to your collection of Judaica or ritual items?  Sisterhood has an online gift shop.  Visit, and check out their unique collection of traditional to whimsical items, including items for the kids, for all holidays and occasions.


Clear Your Calendar

If we were gathering in our Sanctuary, you wouldn't be working or using your phone during services.  However, when at home, it's easy to be distracted on your phone or work while services are "playing" in the background.

Try not to do this.

Clear your calendar, and treat your worship time as dedicated, sacred time.  This will surely enhance the quality of your experience and your sense of connection to our clergy and our community.


Participate - For Real

It's SO easy to be a passive listener when watching services from home.  However, there's an easy way to combat this... DON'T BE A PASSIVE LISTENER.  ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE.

Follow what's happening.  Repeat words and blessings out loud.  Say, "Amen" out loud.  Do what you would do if you were in our Sanctuary.  These seem like small actions, and in some ways they are.  However, they have a huge impact on your overall experience.

Kids Activities

Prepare the Kids

We love our kids.  However, young children can offer distractions and interruptions while worshiping from home.   Try to play ahead with activities or toys that will keep them occupied, even for small chunks of time.  See if they want to participate with you - stand up, sit down, sing, chant, etc.  Young children are typically happy to move around.

Tue, September 29 2020 11 Tishrei 5781