“Waze to the Light” programs and resources guide BJ members and the larger community through the holiday season, providing reflection, engagement, and community while transcending physical distance.
Through its innovative Waze to the Light, guided, curated online programming and events created to engage the public in this year’s unique High Holy Days season, B’nai Jeshurun (BJ) is inviting people on a virtual journey offering a variety of personal and communal experiences. Rolled out week to week through the season concluding with Simhat Torah, with a particularly deep focus during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, BJ is unveiling stops on a virtual roadmap. Participants, both BJ members and all who are interested, are invited to follow an enriching path of diverse options, brought to life through resources exploring the themes and liturgy of the holidays through music, text study, art, poetry, and literature.
BJ Rabbis Roly Matalon and Felicia Sol conceptualized Waze to the Light in response to the unprecedented challenges this year has brought to community gathering, processing of, and reflection on the themes of the holidays. Given the importance of radically reimagining people’s needs in navigating the High Holy Days season, Waze to the Light creates a customizable approach accessible to all, no matter one’s age, religious affiliation, past experience with BJ or the Jewish faith, or geographic location.
“This year, even amidst the challenges we face, we are blessed with so many opportunities for learning, connection, and community,” said Rabbi Roly Matalon, senior rabbi at B’nai Jeshurun. “Now, as we prepare for the most sacred time of year, and turn each of our homes into a mikdash me’at, a small sanctuary, we look forward to deep, meaningful engagement in even more intimate, personal ways than a solely physical environment allows.”
BJ will publicly livestream, at no cost, all prayer services, including its traditional family, young family, and mindfulness services, to all who would like to join. BJ has employed its livestream platform, VirtuShul, since the beginning of the pandemic.
Free livestreamed services and the curated Waze to the Light resources have been developed to ensure that, in this time of both physical distancing and this sacred time of year leading up to and during the High Holy Days, all who are craving spiritual sustenance, renewal, and atonement can engage meaningfully. BJ members have the additional opportunity to participate in virtual and outdoor learning and social programs. Such programs include drop-in discussions to process and explore the themes of the season, stimulating text-based learning led by BJ’s spiritual leaders, a High Holy Days weekly study group, “ELULmination” (a play on the name of the final Hebrew month of Elul), and even a class on baking the perfect round challah for Rosh Hashanah.
“The Yamim Nora’im, the High Holy Days, are a time of self reflection on the past year, and hope and renewal for the year ahead,” said BJ Rabbi Felicia Sol. “This rings especially true this year. Our community is finding strength through each other as we connect, learn, and gather in ways special to this moment in time.”
All are invited to find their “Waze to the Light” through an animated video setting the tone of the season. All accompanying resources, registration for member-exclusive experiences, a schedule of services, a link to livestream prayer services, and a list of frequently asked questions about BJ’s plans for the High Holy Days can be found at bj.org/waze.
“BJ is known for its ability to hold Jewish tradition, creativity, and innovation together at once,” said Cantor David Mintz, director of BJ’s Center for Prayer and Spirituality, who is curating Waze to the Light programming and resources. “At a time when we are craving the familiar, Waze to the Light is designed to give our community a sense of home through prayer and learning, while bringing people together through what we truly hope will be a transformative High Holy Days experience.”
Samantha Kupferman, West End Strategy Team
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