It’s obviously an understatement to say that this has been a crazy and scary year! Virtually every part of our lives has been altered, including how we will be observing the High Holidays this year. The idea of observing the holidays virtually via Zoom, Facebook or YouTube and without the sweetness of hugging our loved ones and friends in person at shul is extremely daunting. Yet, here we are in a new and weird reality.
At the same time, however, new and exciting Jewish portals have come into existence at just the right time that will provide some of the spirituality, worship, and rituals that make this season so important and meaningful. Virtually all of the local Twin Cities synagogues will provide access to congregants who will be able to engage in worship in mostly traditional ways either in live Zoom, Facebook Live settings, or via YouTube, or through pre-recorded services.
In a broader sense, a number of exciting Jewish internet portals have come into existence and in response to the pandemic crisis that provides access to a wide variety of Jewish communities, synagogues, and experiences from all over the U.S.
One of these is JewishLIVE.org that was created by the Institute for the Next Jewish Future and Judaism Unbound. JewishLIVE provides links to more than 30 synagogues and communities across the country that will allow the viewer to access High Holidays services in a wide variety of creative settings. These include IKAR in Los Angeles; Romemu, Lab/Shul, and The Central Synagogue in New York City; and Or HaLev in Israel and the U.S., to name a few. There are also organizations like the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, Hadar, and many others that offer interesting and engaging ways to worship during Elul. Moreover, the Orthodox Union, and the Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, and Jewish Renewal Movements offer a number of intriguing learning and worship opportunities.
On another note, many people, like myself, will become High Holiday Tourists this season and will create our own “basket” or smorgasbord of Jewish worship experiences. Some will check out various rabbis’ sermons or portions of services from a number of synagogues and communities. Some will create their own High Holiday experiences that may or may not involve attending formal worship services at all. One person I know has created his own Jewish playlist; he will observe the holidays by taking a three-hour walk while listening to his inspirational list of Jewish songs. Others will create their own readings and meditations by curating their own High Holiday experiences.
So, my question is, “What will your High Holiday observance look like?” I’m truly eager to hear how you will spend the holidays, whether it be in “traditional” worship services, in a hybrid of Jewish experiences and settings, or in a DIY setting. I look forward to your comments and creativity. L’Shana Tovah for a healthy, happy, and COVID-free year!