Am Shalom Congregation High Holidays 2020  (Rosh Hashanah Sept 18/19, Yom Kippur Sept 27/28)

The High Holiday committee and Am Shalom Board of Directors have been working hard over the past few months to ensure Am Shalom Congregation has meaningful and spiritual High Holiday Services this year. (Rosh Hashana begins Friday Sept 18) After much discussion we have decided to have all our High Holiday services over ZOOM. Rabbi Kaufman spoke about this at our August 1st Shabbat service.

The main reason for our decision is the principal of Pikuach nefesh: that the preservation of human life overrides virtually any other religious rule. We do not wish to endanger anyone by meeting in person. There would be no indoor singing, no shofar blowing, no community Kiddush and many of our community members (those with small children, anyone immunocompromised or members who are over 65) would not feel safe attending. Our congregation has been getting very adept at using ZOOM and this way we can see everyone’s faces and each contribute to the service.

We are working hard to ensure our High Holy Day services are still meaningful and enjoyable for everyone. There are many ways to ensure these ZOOM services are still spiritual and meaningful:

  1. We can ask in advance: what space in my home can best support the experience I am hoping to have? Is it the most comfortable space? The most formal space? The space where I spend a lot of time, or a space that rarely gets used? “Family space” or “guest space”? Try moving the computer/iPad you are using to a new location for a different feeling for the Holy days.
  2. Look around your home and ask what objects; what photos; what family treasures; what books, poems and art; and what Jewish symbols can be moved into the sacred space you are creating? Cover the table you are using with a nice tablecloth, maybe add some flowers. Decorate for the holiday.
  3. Dress up in your holiday clothes (No pj’s for this service.)
  4. If you are comfortable with doing so perhaps join another family that you are in a “bubble” with for the service.

We will be making High Holy Day baskets for pick up or delivery on the Thursday just prior to Rosh Hashanah (September 17th). The baskets will contain items to ensure each person/family has what they need for a relevant and significant High Holiday season as well as some treats! We will also be lending out one set of High Holiday prayer books to each family that requests it as we won’t be sharing the books on ZOOM. (You may also view them on-line on an alternate device or purchase your own books if you prefer)

We know that this year’s High Holy Day services will be different than in the past but together we will ensure they are still welcoming, meaningful and spiritual.


The Am Shalom Board of Directors and High Holiday Committee