High Holidays

High Holidays

Hand touching a mezuzah

As congregational leaders, our task is not to get people nominally in the doors of our sanctuary but to help them through the gates of repentance.

Matan Koch

Let’s treat every person who connects to our communities like both a family member coming home and an honored guest. Here are six ways to do just that.

Rabbi Julie Zupan

If you’re looking for a particular resource you don’t see listed here, let us know so we can help you find it – and you can always post in The Tent to chat with other congregational leaders and URJ staff. L’shanah tovah!

Kate Bigam

This High Holidays season, as we think about racial justice and voting rights this late summer and fall, we’re also thinking about other key issues that are important to repairing our broken world and combating racial injustice.

By Sarah Greenberg

This was the year that Reform rabbis spoke about race. More than 200 rabbis participated the NAACP’s Journey for Justice, and it gave rise to some powerful sermons.

Mark J. Pelavin

As congregational leaders, you may find that the month of Elul and the High Holidays fly by in a whirl of logistical details – arranging for tickets, ensuring enough chairs, assigning aliyot, planning the community’s break-the-fast – necessary to ensure meaningful worship for members and visitors alike. That is indeed holy work. Often, we fail to devote adequate time and attention to cheshbon ha’nefesh (accounting of the soul) – the act of taking stock of the spiritual health of both ourselves as individuals and our congregations.

Rabbi Rick Jacobs

Much of the world slows down during the summer, and even synagogues aren’t the hustling, bustling places they typically are during the rest of the year. Nonetheless, conversations continue unabated in The Tent, the URJ’s online communication and collaboration forum.

Many of the current discussions focus on planning for 5776, with these conversations proving especially popular:

The High Holidays are on their way, so before you head out for summer break, visit The Tent, the URJ’s online communication and collaboration forum, for a full list of tried-and-true High Holiday preparation suggestions, including these and other tips.

  • Tickets: Provide all relevant information, including (as applicable) pricing policies for members and guests, distribution methods, availability, and special offers for students and military personnel.
  • Seating: Describe policies concerning saving seats, as well as accommodations for those with special seating needs.
  • Parking: Describe availability, use of shuttle buses, special arrangements that have been made with local law enforcement officers or neighbors, and considerations for people with wheelchairs and strollers.
  • Security: Explain the security procedures, including what type of identification, if any, will be required to enter the building, and what parking decal must be displayed in vehicles.
  • Special Situations: Describe how to obtain hearing devices, large-print or Braille prayer books, and where to stow strollers.
  • Children: Delineate between worship service attendance and childcare/babysitting policies.

The Tent also has High Holiday resources to help ensure that everything runs smoothly at your congregation throughout this busy season:

Early last month, the URJ hosted its very first “YamJam in The Tent,” a live, moderated Q&A session in the URJ’s online collaborative social media platform, The Tent. URJ moderators posed questions, and everyone in virtual attendance has the opportunity to respond to share information and expertise.

Our first YamJam focused on the different ways congregations welcome new members, and I had the incredible honor of hosting it with friends and colleagues from Program and Engagement Professionals of Reform Judaism (PEP-RJ) and the National Association of Temple Administration (NATA). We were all a little nervous before the event began; we had never done this before, and we didn’t know if anyone would even show up! Participation in these live Q&As doesn't require a reservation, so we were just going on faith that people would show up and share their experiences.

And they did!

What did Reform rabbis talk to their congregations about this Rosh HaShanah? Based on my totally non-scientific survey, Israel was far and away the most popular topic.