The Promise with Keep for The High Holy Days, 5781
May 15, 2020
The story goes a young rabbi was dutifully preparing for the Days of Awe. He was immersed in practicing every word, every note, every page cue, when his teacher entered the room and asked what he was doing. “It’s less than a week to Rosh HaShanah and I still have to prepare so many more pages of the machzor (High Holy Day prayerbook)!” The older and wiser rabbi taught: “You’ll be better prepared for the Days of Awe if you’d only study your neshamah (soul) as carefully as you study those pages.”
Some congregants who care deeply about Holy Blossom have asked about our plans for the High Holy Days. While Rosh HaShanah is still four months away, we want to reassure you that our Clergy Team, including our incoming Senior Cantor David Rosen, has diligently been preparing for two likely scenarios as well as for two less likely scenarios. We do not have a crystal ball. It would be premature and misleading to announce a plan now when so much can change between now and September.
What we can tell you:
- The health and safety of our congregants continues to be our priority. No matter how much we long to be together again, we will only convene in ways that are in keeping with the best practices and protocols established by public health and government authorities.
- On-line alternatives will be available for our congregants at home. We have been met with such gratitude for our live-streamed services and educational offerings over the past eight weeks, we are convinced they will remain as a lasting component of what we provide in the future, even after it is safe to congregate again. The screen is certainly not as satisfying as gathering side by side in sacred community; it is not as joyful as raising our voices together in song; it is not as uplifting as quiet contemplation in one of our beautiful sanctuaries, but it is a powerful tool for extending our reach, for connecting with our tradition, and for uniting with one another when we cannot be together in person. We are investing in hardware and staff in order to ensure vibrant on-line alternatives.
- When we began planning in earnest three weeks ago, many creative solutions and many imaginative ideas began to emerge. As in so many other areas of life now, the High Holy Days will be a balance between the best of what we’ve always known and treasured combined with new experiments and engaging innovations. Challenges are becoming opportunities.
- We will be in regular contact with you over the coming months as our plans take shape and our confidence grows in what we believe life will look like in September. Until then, please know that our Rabbis and Cantors, together with our Worship Committee and the President’s COVID-19 Cabinet are working thoughtfully and thoroughly to develop the finest plan to make these High Holy Days meaningful and memorable for us all.
Like the young rabbi, preparing to lead High Holy Day Services for the first time, we find ourselves in uncharted waters, but we are also like the mentoring rabbi who has the accumulation of wisdom and life experiences to draw upon. We are confident you will be delighted by the quality and quantity of the offerings we can provide throughout the coming High Holy Day season.
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Yael Splansky Avra Rosen Ron Polster
Senior Rabbi Temple President Executive Director