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Walking Towards A New Year

By now you would have seen the video introducing how we will gather online for these coming High Holy Days. We’ve received tremendous feedback from many congregants and friends of Holy Blossom. If you haven’t yet filled out our brief survey, we’d love to hear from you. Your comments help us to shape our offerings as well as user-friendly FAQs for our website. The survey will be open until August 7, 2020.

Some have asked if our Rabbis and Cantors will be onsite. Yes, we will. With masks and physical distancing, we will be there to represent the congregation. The Temple has found a very talented production team to help with live-streaming, so you will enjoy scenes from our historic sanctuary and our beautifully renewed Mishkan. More importantly, you will be able to see one another. Many have expressed their longing for community. Knowing that we belong to something larger, tapping into the strength of the Jewish People is part of the power of the High Holy Days.

Some have asked where the prayers will be found. Our Production Team is developing a way for the liturgy to be easily read directly from the bottom of your screen. If, however, you’d like to have a Machzor to hold in your hands, let us know by contacting Abigail Carpenter-Winch and we can arrange a time for you to pick up a lent copy of Gates of Repentance. In addition, we will make the transliterations of key prayers available on our website for those who would benefit.

Action Items

  1.  In the early days of the lockdown, more than one hundred volunteers made “check-in” calls for the entire congregation. This “Call HaKavod” Campaign was greatly appreciated. Next week we begin the second round of calls in anticipation of the High Holy Days. If you’d like to join the team of volunteers to make these simple calls of care and outreach, please contact Rabbi Zachary Goodman at [email protected].
  2. We invite you to send a photo or a brief video clip of yourself, wishing fellow congregants a L’Shanah Tovah. We will use these throughout the High Holy Day season to reinforce our togetherness, even when we have to be apart. Please send your photos, perhaps holding up a L’Shanah Tovah sign, and your video clips, perhaps blowing a shofar or offering words of hope and blessing for a new year to [email protected]
  3. Soon we will open registration for you to sign up for a chance to come into our beautiful and empty Sanctuary during a weekday during the month of Ellul. You may attend on your own or with your bubble for a private moment of contemplation before the open ark. There you can have a safe and quiet moment of reflection to offer a prayer for the New Year. Health and safety protocols will be clearly communicated and thoroughly maintained.
  4. Many have expressed concern about the ability to access the High Holy Day services online or by telephone. Please reach out to fellow congregants and offer to help them practice logging in. We will have clear instructions on our website as well as a “Help Desk,” but your personal coaching will be greatly appreciated.
  5. Already many new members have joined Holy Blossom this year. Please introduce us to your friends, neighbours, colleagues, and relatives who don’t yet have a congregation to call home. There is even an Out-of-town membership that may be just the right match for your loved ones. Contact: Abigail Carpenter-Winch at [email protected].
  6. While our weekday and Shabbat services are open to all, most of our High Holy services will only be accessible for our congregation. However, our Children’s Services for Young Readers and Little Blossoms are open to not-yet-members who pre-register as our guests. And our Second Day Rosh HaShanah Services are open to the world. Spread the word.

 Connecting with one another throughout the High Holy Day Season

  1.  Before and after each High Holy Day service, our Virtual Atrium will be open for you to meet and greet one another.
  2. Our shared table for Seder was very meaningful. So for Erev Rosh HaShanah Dinner and for Break-the-Fast after Ne’ilah there will be Zoom Dining Rooms open for you to share your Yom Tov meals with good company from the comfort and safety of your own home.
  3. Our Selichot service will be a rare opportunity to connect with Reform Jews from across Canada. Cantor Rosen is working with colleagues from across our sister congregations to arrange for joint study, song, and prayer – coast to coast.
  4. Between services, multiple High Holy Day Study Sessions will be offered on a variety of themes and offered by an impressive collection of teachers, including Canada’s new Ambassador to the United Nations, Bob Rae.
  5. Tashlich will be on the lakefront this year. Bring your own breadcrumbs for tossing. We’ll bring the individually wrapped honey drops.
  6. Many appreciated when early in the pandemic we offered “Seder-in-a-Box.” So we have once again, partnered with a local caterer for “Yom Tov-in-a Box.” You may wish to pre-order a delicious Yom Tov meal for yourself. You may wish to pre-order apple cakes or round challahs with jars of honey to give as gifts to friends or fellow congregants. You may wish to send Holy Blossom New Year’s cards. All these will be offered in the coming weeks.

Your Rabbis and Cantors, professional staff and lay leaders are working day and night create something that is both old and new. There will be many creative elements to our services. The music will be exquisite. Beyond login passwords and honey cake recipes, how do we spiritually prepare?

  1. Join us for daily prayer and hear the call of the Shofar
  2. The Institute for Jewish Spirituality is offering free Ellul opportunities for meditation, study, and embodied prayer (aka yoga).
  3. Visiting the graves of loved ones and teachers is a way to bring memories of them to guide the path we forge for a new year. Cemeteries were closed for much of the pandemic. Kever Avot is a brief ceremony to honour those who came before us.
  4. Giving Tzedakah is actually considered a spiritual practice in anticipation of the New Year. Every contribution to our Annual Congregational Appeal is most appreciated – especially this year. Contact Randi Rose at [email protected].

With Shabbat Nachamu, the Shabbat of Comfort comes a series of weeks of ramping up to Rosh HaShanah. Oh, how we will run to greet this New Year! Many of our Sages liken this period of the Jewish calendar to walking through a series of doors or unlocking a series of gates. Let us be deliberate in our preparations. Let us find growing confidence with each stride. And let us delight in the joyful embrace of the New Year awaiting us.

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