Be Sure You’re in the Zoom Where It Happens

There is nothing virtual about it (really!)

Dear Haverim,  

We are excited to share with you a whole host of inspiring experiences that we are offering this year as a part of our High Holy Day observances. 

But more than anything, we want to work with you to create and share that wonderful sense of community spirit that is so integral to our hamish Bet Haverim family.  We hope that you will all join us for a “Redwood Zoom Gathering” on Erev Rosh HaShanah, Sept. 18 at 5 pm where we will begin our New Year’s celebration, just as we always do, together. We will sing and have a chance to visit with each other in small breakout groups. We are also creating a slideshow, accompanied by the lovely music of our talented Songleaders, to share at our Redwood Gathering with photos of our Bet Haverim partners so that we are surrounded by our friends, old and new. We invite you to please upload a photo of yourself or your family “doing Jewish” here.You can share a photo of your family at a bar/bat mitzvah, wedding, or baby naming. Maybe you have a favorite family photo celebrating Passover, Shabbat or Chanukah, or dressed up for Purim. Or maybe you will just take a picture with something Jewish in it—like you! We want to see your faces. Please let us know who is in the photo and what you are celebrating in the photo. You can upload photos as jpegs or in other common formats. All photos must be submitted by September 9th.    

I hope that you have already had an opportunity to explore our website and see the many ways you can connect to the spirit of these upcoming days and prepare yourself for a brand new year. Here is a link to programs during this month of Elul as we get our spirits in gear.  And this link will take you to our High Holy Day page with a full schedule of observances.

Feel free to take part in as much or as little as you need to nourish your spirits during these Days of Awe. We have been led by a vision to foster a meaningful sense of connection to our community, with other individuals and with the Divine, even when we can’t all be together physically. But gather we will, with great enthusiasm, to provide a distinct spiritual, sacred space and time for introspection for all of us so that we can do the inner work we need to do each year by taking stock of our lives and making the changes we need.

Despite the fact that these are challenging, unprecedented times, and we so wish that we could all be together in person, we have worked hard to create a sense of continuity with CBH High Holyday traditions while using this unique moment in history to share something new, creative and interactive with and for all the various groups in our congregation. There will be gatherings and services for families with Rabbi Seth Castleman and Bob Smith leading the music.

We will have a Rosh HaShanah seder. We will have our traditional services and other creative options. We will have time to chant and a time to be quiet. We will have moments together and a chance to experience things on your own or with your family. We will have a chance to receive and also holy opportunities to give back and share our blessings with our annual food drive, which will now be electronic. Follow this link to participate in our digital food drive.

Most of our Holy Day experiences will be live on zoom and some things will be carefully orchestrated to take place safely in person. A few things, like Torah/Haftarah readings, Shofar service and the rabbis’ sermons will be pre-recorded so that they will be available to be viewed whenever you choose. We will also have a few special musical surprises!

You will also note that one of the silver-linings of this time is an opportunity to build a sense of community with Jews beyond CBH in Sacramento and the greater Jewish world. This will especially be true for Selichot and the three special Havadallot on the Saturdays leading up to Selichot. Each of these programs we will share with Rabbi Nancy Wechsler and her Beth Shalom Congregation in Carmichael. We had a wonderful first session last Saturday and we invite you to join us for the next ones! We are also excited to announce that our Selichot celebration on Saturday, Sept. 12th, will feature an inspiring and uplifting concert by well-loved Jewish musician, Dan Nichols, beginning at 5:30 pm with other Reform congregations across the country. (click here for all the Havdallah and Selichot information).

Finally, you might give some special thought to where you will zoom your Holy Day services and create a new, “sacred” place that is not where you normally do your zoom “business.” You might think of setting up a special table with a white table cloth, candlesticks and shofar on it. Maybe you’ll place a mirror in your home “sanctuary” to remind yourself to be reflective or that you can’t hide. Perhaps you will place photos of family and loved ones around you or favorite books, cut flowers, or items that help remind you of the power of these days. You can also get an HDMI cable and hook up your laptop to the television and experience the Holy Days on a larger format than usual.

We hope that you will find plenty of meaningful opportunities to engage your heart, mind and spirit for a fulfilling High Holy Day season. Please reach out to me or members of our Board if we can help you in any way have a sweeter New Year.

Wishing you sweetness and blessings in this New Year of 5781,

Rabbi Greg