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.
- “Applying High Holiday Scenario Planning to 5781" (Recording)
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).
“Leading High Holiday Worship with Visual T’filah for Mishkan HaNefesh” (Recording)
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.
- “Preparing for the Holidays: Where Should We Begin?” (Recording)
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.
- "Re-Imagining High Holiday Liturgy: Where Do We Begin?” (Recording)
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.
- "Re-Imagining High Holiday Liturgy: Perspectives for Lay Leaders" (Recording)
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.
- "Bringing High Holidays Home: How to Create Meaningful Online Experiences for Young Children and Their Families" (Recording)
This webinar focuses on how to intentionally create a meaningful worship experience that speaks to young children and their families. We learn about the varied needs of young children and how to meet these needs on-line, including specific ideas that you can implement in your own community.
- "Opening Your Virtual Gates: Making Online High Holiday Celebrations Accessible to All"
As the Jewish world spends time and energy determining how to create a meaningful, spiritual experience online, RespectAbility and its partners, including the Reform Movement, have created a guide to ensure this includes the one in five Jews with disabilities. Rabbi Darby Leigh, who is Deaf, and Rabbi Lauren Tuchman, who is blind, bring both their deep knowledge as rabbis and critical lived experiences.
- Three-Day High Holiday Intensive (Recording)
Accessible only to CCAR and ACC Members.
- "A Selichot Worship Experience"
The ACC, CCAR and URJ are pleased to offer this one-hour Selichot service and worship experience for your use this year. Led by many of our Movement’s rabbis and cantors, it provides meaningful reflection, song, and prayers from Mishkan HaLev, a siddur for Selichot, as well as a visual ritual for changing of the Torah mantles to white for our sacred days. We invite you to use this service in your communities to begin these holy days connected to congregations across our Movement.
- "New Ideas for Selichot" (Recording)
For members of the CCAR and ACC. Selichot includes powerful rituals and moments of meaning. This webinar explored creative possibilities for observing selichot as a gateway into the High Holidays.
- Video: "A Selichot Service and Torah Cover Changing Ritual"
For many, the Selichot experience of turning the year long Torah mantles (covers) to the white covers used only on the Holy Days is a visual and physical signpost of the arrival of this sacred time. Please use this three-minute video to experience this ritual with clergy from across North America.
- Canada-Wide Selichot
Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020 at 9pm
Hosted by the Canadian Reform Movement, this program will include a session led by Dr. Larry Hoffman on Unetaneh Tokef, Havdalah led by NFTY/URJ Camp George, and a Selichot worship service led by rabbis and cantors from across Canada.
- "Music of the High Holidays" (Recording)
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.
- 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.
- High Holiday Recordings
Members of 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 prerecorded High Holiday repertoire can be found in the list of resources. While much of the content is available now, more is being added.
Partnership & Innovation
- “A Shared Vision: Working Together to Make Meaning for Your Community” (Recording)
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.
- "Re-Imagining High Holiday Moments: Experimenting with What Has Changed, What Will Change, and How to Think Differently" (Recording)
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.
- "Best Principles of Engagement through the Lens of the High Holidays" (with URJ, NATA and PEP-RJ) (Recording)
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.
- “Being Inclusive and Accessible from the Start: Celebrating Your Whole Community” (Recording)
Preparing for a fully inclusive High Holiday Experience? Learn up-to-date language and practices around inclusive programming with the URJ's Audacious Hospitality Program Manager Rachel Hall (she/her), and HUC-JIR rabbinical student Kelly Whitehead (she/her). This webinar is for clergy, staff, and lay leaders leading communal experiences (worship, small groups, programs, conversations, etc.). It includes specific tips to ensure a meaningful inclusive online (or in-person) experience for Jews with disabilities, Jews of Color, Jews who identify as LGBTQ+, and Jews with other marginalized identities.
- "Best Principles and Practices for Using Technology for High Holiday Worship" (Recording)
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.
- URJ Reflection Project
Thanks to a generous gift from the Righteous Persons Foundation, we're honored to introduce a meaningful new set of offerings and experiences for the High Holidays for you as leaders to share with your congregation. This deep dive into the core essences of the holidays enables us to connect to our spirituality and community, even if we can't be present in person.
- Women’s Rabbinic Network Elul Reflections (Video Offering)
Join WRN rabbis for a month of inspiring video teachings, sent via email as well as posted on our Instagram and Facebook, that will provide you with short kavanot, spiritual offerings to help you reflect, explore, and contemplate as you continue your journey into 5781, the Jewish new year. These daily emails include great material for congregational learning, too.
- 40 Holy Days
This free online-tool-kit of music and inspiration features leading Jewish artists and thought leaders from around the globe. It’s an opportunity for Am Yisrael – our people and congregations – to come together and meaningfully celebrate the Holy Days without breaking the bank or reinventing the wheel.
- The Shofar Project: An Elul Intensive
Hosted by the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, each week of The Shofar Project will focus on a different aspect of awakening and renewal. Upon signing up, you will receive emails with the links to video teachings and a variety of live online events that explore the week’s theme.
Learn more about these teen opportunities and others from NFTY - The Reform Jewish Youth Movement. Head to NFTY.org/x to register for each of the events below. You'll need to create an account the first time you register for an event.
- Big Questions for 5781
Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020, 7:00 pm ET
Jewish tradition teaches that the month of Elul is a time of soul-searching and reflection to prepare oneself for the magnitude of the Days of Awe. Join us as we prepare together and meet other Jewish teens as we explore some big questions together.
Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, at 7:00 pm ET
Reflect on your past year, engage on a deep level with peers, and cast off past misdeeds. We will begin with a mixer session to set intentions and then connect through an innovative Tashlich experience. We will say goodbye to Shabbat together with a short and sweet Havdalah service.
- Finding Compassion for Yourself with Here.Now.
Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, at 5:00 pm ET
As we embark on the Days of Awe and reflect on how we can be better in the new year, sometimes we are too hard on ourselves. In this session, we will learn from Pam Schuller from Here.Now about being compassionate to ourselves as we also work to do better.
- Shanah Tovah Card-Making
Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020, at 7:00 pm ET
COVID has led to increased isolation for the elderly, especially in nursing homes. We will spend time making Shanah Tovah cards and writing letters to elderly nursing home residents while connecting with each other. It will be a meaningful experience for everyone and we hope you’ll join us!
- Dessert Break-Fast
Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at 9:00 pm ET
Even though we will already have broken our fast after Yom Kippur, let’s come together as a teen community to have dessert, close out our High Holidays experiences together, and hang out with other teens.
- "Vote 5781: A High Holiday Program for Teens"
This digital, highly interactive program specifically, designed for the High Holidays, helps connect Reform Jewish teens to the importance of voting. Through exploring the history of voting rights in the U.S. and our responsibility as Jews, participants will recognize why voting matters and learn about ways to get involved in the RAC’s 2020 Civic Engagement Campaign: Every Voice, Every Vote. The program is designed to allow congregations to run a program for their teens as part of, or in anticipation of, their High Holiday offerings. Questions? Email Shira Zemel, RAC Director of Youth Leadership Development.
- Rabbi Aaron D. Panken, z"l, Memorial Shiur: A Yom Kippur Afternoon of Learning, Prayer, and Inspiration
Monday, Sept. 28, 2020, at 3:30pm ET
The URJ is proud to partner with Westchester Reform Temple and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion to share a Yom Kippur afternoon of learning, prayer, and inspiration. Led by Rabbi Jonathan Blake and URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs, this program will highlight four distinguished scholars who were inaugurated last year as Rabbi Aaron D. Panken Professors, each offering a learning experience. There are two ways to participate: as an individual or as a congregation/community. All information can be accessed in our calendar event.