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Our High Holy Days Plans (2020)

First and most importantly, as we live each day in a very different world around us, we hope this message finds you and your loved ones healthy and well. We know how difficult the last few months have been, and so many have been touched by illness, sadness, and loss. Yet, as different as each of our lives are now, the need for connection remains, and we are heartened by the ongoing engagement from so many of you in our Shabbat services, daily prayer, and programming.

As we reimagine our collective experience for this High Holy Days season, the health and safety of our community lives in tension with our deep desire to pray together. And so while it is clear we cannot celebrate the Yamim Nora’im together in person this year, the BJ community will come together as one, with a shared sense of renewal and hope for the coming year. Our dynamic array of virtual offerings—prayer, study, and communal gatherings—will provide a rich tapestry for soul searching, reflection, and connection.

The online programs we are planning will include both traditional prayer services for adults, families, and young children, as well as virtual gatherings for BJ members throughout the weeks from Elul to Simhat Torah. We are approaching this season as an opportunity to develop a range of creative and innovative resources and programs—diverse windows into the High Holy Days themes and liturgy—through music, text study, art, poetry, and literature. There will be pathways into spirituality and mindfulness, and a deep exploration of the liturgy through multiple lenses. There will be programs for young adults and young families, for empty nesters and retired people, for folks going through transitions, and for everyone in between.

BJ members will have many opportunities to connect as a community to explore these themes together, or simply to gather for a virtual ‘walk to shul,’ kiddush, or break-fast. Additionally, we are developing a handful of outdoor, in-person programs, the safety of which we will continue to evaluate as we get closer to the season. BJ members will also receive a pre-holiday care package with materials to enhance their at-home prayer and celebration.

We have a unique opportunity this year as the two of us and Ari will lead prayer services together throughout the Yamim Nora’im. This is unprecedented for our community. We are also pleased to share that we have just welcomed our new assistant rabbi, Rebecca Weintraub, who is an integral part of our preparations for the Yamim Nora’im. She and her husband Jeremy are expecting their first child, besha’ah tovah (in good time), in early September. Becca will be back with us following parental leave.

While livestreaming of services will be publicly accessible, all additional communal programming and experiences will be exclusively for BJ members. We hope you will consider making BJ your spiritual home, and invite you to explore our membership options with sliding-scale dues. Please find more information on our membership pageemail us, or call us at 212-787-7600 x302.

We never could have imagined what this year would bring, but we are moving forward with faithfulness and gratitude for the extraordinary community we have the blessing to lead.

Experience the High Holy Days

As a companion to BJ’s livestreamed High Holy Days prayer services and the curated, publicly available resources, BJ members are invited to participate in Zoom-enabled learning and social programs around and during the livestreamed prayer services, as well as in socially distanced, in-person, outdoor programs. Opportunities will include drop-in discussions to process and explore the themes of the season, stimulating text-based learning led by BJ’s spiritual leaders, our ELULmination High Holy Days study group meeting weekly, and even a class on baking the perfect round challah for Rosh Hashanah.