New & Updated Resources: Preparing for the High Holidays in Challenging Times

Upcoming Webinars and Resources to Help Guide You
July 20, 2020Cantor Rosalie Will

As communities across our Movement grapple with how to celebrate the High Holiday season this year, we know you have been engaged in deep thinking about what comes next. Your questions include queries about scenario-planning, how to create community at a distance, how to best use technology, understanding the impact of High Holiday themes, and how clergy, staff, and lay people can work together to create your vision for these unique and holy days.

As conversations continue about how to best prepare for the High Holiday season, we would like to help you continue to ask the right questions, arrive at the best answers for your communities, and support you in their implementation. Read on to see what we have learned together, access what you might have missed, and learn what resources will be coming your way over the next two months.

We are pleased to be working with our Movement partners HUC-JIR, CCAR, ACC, NATA, ARJE, ECE-RJ, PEP-RJ, NFTY, WRJ, and MRJ as well as other partner organizations and affiliates to offer the best collaborative thinking and the most comprehensive resources to guide your visioning and planning.

Scenario Planning and Guides

  • Cross-Movement COVID-19 Guide to Reopening
    As national, state, and local health authorities begin to allow additional activities in certain communities, congregational leaders are considering the process of re-opening. Economic and communal pressure, the sense of loneliness and isolation, and the desire to “get back to normal,” may sway some leaders toward re-opening. As articulated in the rabbinic statements linked below, Jewish values obligate us to consider the broader implications of our actions, including the risk to the lives of our clergy, seminary students, employees, volunteers, congregants, and those who would come in contact with them. This guide to the considerations for re-opening serves as a template to aid in your decision-making process.
  • "The Quadrant Method: High Holiday Scenario-Planning Resource"
    This resource, created by Amy Asin, URJ vice president of Strengthening Congregations, is designed to help guide your decision-making and planning for the months ahead.
  • Watch a recording: “Applying High Holiday Scenario Planning to 5781"
    This webinar, designed for individuals or teams and led by Amy Asin, offers guidance on how to best use the URJ scenario-planning tool (tool linked above).


  • Watch a recording*“Leading High Holiday Worship with Visual T’filah for Mishkan HaNefesh  
    Accessible only to ACC and CCAR members; this session is designed to help clergy learn what options for Visual T’filah exist using the CCAR’s newest machzor, and how to help their communities access our beautiful liturgy and poetry.
  • "Free and Low-Cost CCAR Press High Holiday Resources" 
    A range of resources to meet the High Holiday worship needs of communities and individuals. You’ll find print prayer books, ebooks, a discount on Mishkan HaNefesh, a variety of Visual T’filah options, Gates of Repentance, and more. The CCAR is also offering a free one-year license for the complete set of basic Visual T’filah for Mishkan HaNefesh.
  • Watch a recording: “Preparing for the Holidays: Where Should We Begin?” 
    This resource is ideal for small congregations in which lay people lead High Holiday worship without clergy support. Cantor Rosalie Will and Rabbi David Fine help you think about what questions to ask, what tools you’ll need, and opportunities for creating a meaningful experience for your community.
  • Watch a recording: "Re-Imagining High Holy Day Liturgy – Where Do We Begin?” 
    Accessible only to ACC and CCAR members; Dr. Larry Hoffman, Rabbi Jacqueline Mates-Muchin, and Cantor Rosalie Will, offer reflections on the permission we have to use select moments in our liturgy to create dynamic and meaningful worship, when long services are unavailable virtually.
  • Watch a recording: "Re-Imagining High Holiday Liturgy – Perspectives for Lay Leaders" 
    Led by Cantor Rosalie Will, lay leaders Loree Farrar and Wendy Rhodes, with teachings from Rabbi Larry Hoffman, this recording offers ideas on how lay leaders can approach changes of our liturgical content for the Holy Days.
  • Watch a recording: "Music of the High Holidays"  
    Music plays a crucial role in our High Holiday experience. To help us consider how to think about music now, Cantor Rosalie Will with ACC Cantors Ben Ellerin and Rollin Simmons, and DFSSM Director Cantor Richard Cohn help us ask the right questions  about music and worship in order to get clarity on why making music matters, especially now. Together with this webinar, use this High Holiday 2020 Music Planning Tool.
  • Watch recordings*: Three-Day High Holiday Intensive  
    Accessible only to CCAR and ACC Members.
  • Musical Liturgical Recordings and Videos of Essential High Holiday Worship
    The ACC and the congregations they serve are pleased to share resources of liturgical classics sung by solo cantors with accompaniment, choir, as well as some videos of pieces of liturgy. Additional new contemporary pre-recorded High Holiday repertoire can be found here. Links to purchase copies of the music available from Transcontinental Music Publications will also be added. Much of the content is available in the link above, more will be coming into mid-August as our Cantorial colleagues complete their recordings and share them with you, with best wishes for a meaningful, safe, and fulfilling High Holiday season.
  • Watch a recording: "New Ideas for S'lichot"
    For members of the CCAR and ACC. S'lichot includes powerful rituals and moments of meaning. This webinar explored creative possibilities for observing s’lichot as a gateway into the High Holy Days.

Partnership & Innovation

  • Watch a recording: “A Shared Vision: Working Together to Make Meaning for Your Community” 
    This webinar and available tool can help your whole team, including clergy, staff, and senior lay leadership, share different strategies for creating sacred partnership in challenging times with transparency, shared co-creation, and support for one another.
  • Watch a recording: "Re-Imagining High Holiday Moments: Experimenting with What Has Changed, What Will Change, and How to Think Differently"
    Join educator and expert in the art of intergenerational engagement, Karina Zilberman, for a look at how different ritual moments of the High Holiday season help us understand and appreciate the time between Elul and Yom Kippur as a whole. Experimenting with Tashlich, our shofar ritual, and the potential of prayer, Karina shares ways to think more broadly about the spiritual power of these experiences in this time of digital gathering and online worship. Presented by URJ and ARJE.
  • Watch a recording: "Best Principles of Engagement through the Lens of the High Holidays" (with URJ, NATA and PEP-RJ)  
    This webinar addresses some of the key questions on the minds of congregational leaders about High Holiday engagement: What is the job of a membership committee in a time of social distancing? If services aren’t in person, is there a role for ushers, and how can we reimagine the role of the High Holiday Committee? This webinar is valuable to both those who have made a decision and those who are still working through the question of what kind of High Holiday experience you will be creating. Please note: this call does not address liturgy or live streaming. Presented by URJ/PEP-RJ/NATA.


  • Watch a recording: Best Principles and Practices for Using Technology for High Holiday Worship 
    Leading your community during the Holidays this year will require using creative technology more than ever before. Learn the best principles and practices for utilizing such technologies as live-streaming, Visual T’filah, how to create an inviting community experience, and more. In this recording, experts from the URJ, CCAR, and across the Movement offer practical guidance and strategic thinking. Led by Rabbi Dan Medwin, Rabbi Leora Kaye, and Josh Mason-Barkin, this webinar was geared towards individuals and small teams with modest to mid-level experience.
  • Vimeo Video Series on Principles and Practices for Music Production in Worship
    This series contains a series of how-to videos provided by the ACC for all of our partners.  They include how to make a simple choir video on PC and on MAC, how to mix an instrument with the voice into zoom, how to make a simple Filmora video for your congregation, and how to optimize sound for your virtual worship.


  • “Being Inclusive and Accessible from the Start: Celebrating Your Whole Community”
    Date and time TBD
    Presented by the URJ Audacious Hospitality staff, this webinar offers clergy, staff, executive directors, and lay leaders leading communal experiences guidance around creating a sense of belonging for all community members. It will highlight best practices in equity and inclusion while leading small groups, worship, teaching, and programs.
  • “Marketing and Communications: Sharing Your Message with Intention”
    Date and time TBD
    Led by the URJ Marketing and Communications staff and PEP-RJ, this session addresses ways to clearly communicate and share your plans with your communities and build pathways in for people who may join you for the High Holidays.
  • "Social Justice and Compassion in the Book of Jonah"
    Monday, August 3, at 3pm ET
    Accessible to members of the CCAR and ACC; led by Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz, author of The Book of Jonah: A Social Justice Commentary.
  • "Mindful Leadership: A RAC Master Class"
    Monday, August 17; exact time TBD
    Accessible to members of the CCAR and ACC
  • "A Selichot Worship Experience"
    The CCAR and ACC will release a pre-recorded worship experience, containing music, original prayers and readings, and liturgy from Mishkan haLev – Prayers for Selichot and the Month of Elul, at the end of August for your use in Selichot.
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