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October 3, 2015 | 20th Tishrei 5776
Home  /  Worship, Music and Spirituality  /  iWorship Wisdom Archives  /  High Holy Day--Yizkor and N'ilah  / 
High Holy Day--Yizkor and N'ilah


  1. Jan 2005 Digest 2005-21

                Does anyone have experience in asking for donations (in any way) at the High Holy Day Yizkor services? Our services are very well attended by non members in our community. We would like to gently give them the opportunity to make a donation to our congregation. We are struggling with how to accomplish this goal.

  2. Jan 2005 Digest 2005-21

                Do not know how well it works, but we place an envelope and a card in each service booklet for Yizkor asking for donations in a nice way.

  3. Jan 2005 Digest 2005-21

                I have some experience with this problem and no satisfactory answer. If this were a perfect world, everyone who attended the service would donate willingly and not need to be asked. Since that apparently is not the case, I have found no easy way to ask for money. Since we do not charge for HHD Services [at our congregation], we leave envelopes at the door in hopes of receiving some donations. We rarely do. It appears that unless folks are forced to donate, they will not, and my congregation will not force any person to pay. I have argued myself hoarse trying to change this policy but to no avail. There are undoubtedly other congregations who have fought this battle and perhaps they have a good answer.

  4. Jan 2005 Digest 2005-21

                Place an envelope on each seat before the service with a message on the front directed to both members and non-members. Its low key, low cost, can be put on by paid staff, and it is direct in its message. And any that are not taken can be collected and used again.


    550 members
  5. Jan 2005 Digest 2005-21

                With regard to the question about encouraging donations from people who show up just for Yizkor. Why are they coming only for Yizkor? Is it the only time they feel they can go to services without paying, or is it that only the Yizkor service is important to them? And if they are going to the service for which they don't have to pay, why is that? I think putting donation envelopes out in books is always helpful, but I also think that the attitude of why and at what times a congregation is asking for money is also important.

    I think that there can be a middle ground between "leaving envelopes at the door"…and charging for HHD tickets. My congregation is also a small, although rapidly growing, congregation (I think the issue of not charging for HHD is much more difficult for large congregations) that has always asked for donations, but never demanded a set amount. We do several things to encourage donations.

    1)      We have "tickets" with the service schedule on it and a suggested donation amount. It encourages that amount, but there is no need to ask anyone if you can't pay the requested amount. I believe that our policy creates an air of acceptance of where people are. It is part of a process of making them feel wanted and welcomed.

    2)      In addition at some point during the High Holy Days, the president will talk about where the congregation has been in the last year and where we are wanting to go. I don't think it is necessary to force people to pay, but it is necessary to give them a reason to do so. It is necessary that they have some buy in and commitment to what is happening, even if they only come twice a year. There are people who have been coming to our High Holy Day services for years, who do not want to become members, but who contribute the suggested amount, and occasionally more, because they believe in who we are as a congregation, what we are doing, and feel welcomed to be with us at what level feels comfortable to them. Our High Holy Day donations have been steadily climbing for years.


    145 members
  6. August 2007 Digest 159

                We do not begin N’ilah until fifteen minutes after the Yizkor service ends. This gets people in and out (for those who do not come for Yizkor) without the chatting and noise that would compromise the service. This seems to work well for us….


    235 units
  7. August 2007 Digest 159

                To balance the inevitable mass exodus after Yizkor, we have a (recent) lovely tradition of inviting families with young children to join the congregation for N’ilah. A large section of seats is reserved at the very front of our sanctuary, and everyone kvells as the little ones and their parents head in. At the very end of the service, everyone under 13 or over 83 is invited to crowd onto the bimah, with help if needed, for Havdalah. In a huge congregation it is easy to lose the family feeling, but this annual moment is one way we bring it back.


    1700 units
  8. August 2007 Digest 160

                We are using Wings of Awe, the Hillel machzor, and while there are a lot of things I prefer about GOR, I like that ours has lots of opportunities for Ni'lah music. We tend to try to make N'ilah as energetic as we can…Also, I think we might have people exit out our side door

  9. August 2007 Digest 160

                I personally think the N’ilah Service is one of the most beautiful on the day of Yom Kippur. I love the image of the gates slowly closing (and that this is your last chance for the year to get things right!) and the way things build and build to the final words. I've never had a problem with the Gates text; we also manage to get some music into that service. Those people I have talked to in our congregation who have stayed till the end pretty much agree with my feelings. At the conclusion of the service, we call anyone who has a shofar to come up to blow the final call. (The 7th graders usually have a shofar-making session prior to Yom Kippur so many of them participate in the final call.)  After the shofar blowing, we do Havdalah (in the Sanctuary) and then retire to the community hall for a simple break-the-fast: Wine, juice, water, honey cake, cookies, fruit, etc.

                I think the reasons why people don't stay are varied.  1) You have those people who only come for Yizkor--some of whom do not even belong to the congregation. (We don't check tickets in the afternoon.) 2) You have those who have dinner commitments with relatives/friends in "the city." (We are in a suburb about twenty-five miles northwest of [major city]) 3) And there are people who have never stayed after Yizkor before and don't realize what a short and beautiful service follows it. I am constantly "pitching" N’ilah to these people whenever I can. Actually, when our daughters were younger and didn't want to come for the whole afternoon, they would deliberately come for N’ilah!

                I'm not sure what to do about the situation but to educate our congregants about the N’ilah service.


    310 families
  10. August 2007 Digest 161

                There are a couple of nice things we do with the Afternoon, Yizkor, N’ilah services.

                We have added a wonderful richness to the GOP Afternoon service by inserting a "Service if Remembrance" within it. This service is written by members who are Holocaust survivors/children of survivors. Brief congregational readings are interspersed with first person narratives delivered by these congregants. The speakers range in age from early adolescents sharing stories of their grandparents through our more senior congregants. Musical selections are interspersed as well. This is an incredibly moving, poignant service within a service. Many people make a point of being in the synagogue in time for this.

                We also pass out lemons during the transition between Yizkor and N’ilah. As a person who spends long hours on the bimah singing in our choir as well as slipping out to check on ushers and other details related to the facilitation of the day, scratching the skin on the lemon and smelling its fragrance carries me through the end of our worship day. Usually the sanctuary is packed by the time the lemons emerge. With an outstanding congregational break the fast following N’ilah, a lot of people make their way back (or remain at the synagogue all day, attending an early afternoon study session and/or our service of personal reflection which includes extended musical meditation time).


    720 member units
  11. Sept 2007 Digest 185

                We have a wonderful Yizkor service which lasts almost an hour. After our choir opened with Eili, Eili, the rabbi talked about five or six people who had died in the previous year,…In addition to the readings and music in the prayer book, the rabbi led a guided visualization. We were instructed to close our eyes and picture entering a room to meet one or more of our loved ones who has departed this world. We were to greet them in the way we wish, then speak with them, perhaps tell them what had happened in our lives since they died or say something we didn't get to say while they were alive. It lasted about ten minutes…This experience makes Yizkor incredibly meaningful to many of our congregants, but also too painful for some.


    187 families
  12. Sept 2007 Digest 186

                For the past few years we have truly had a tekiyah gedolah at the end of the N’ilah service. All members of the congregation are invited to blow shofar together. Then we see who can last the longest. It's become a highlight for all, and a real upbeat way to end the day. There must be two dozen shofarim sounding at once, a wonderful and joyous sound.


    450 families

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