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A Video Message to the Congregation 

Reorienting Ourselves to Each Other and the World

It is difficult to imagine a more disorienting communal experience than our past few months. With schools, camps, and many workplaces closed, the routines that have filled our schedules abruptly fell away. Each day felt like every other. There was no longer a social obligation to dress a certain way - why even change out of your pajamas? Who wears makeup anymore? We who occupy ourselves with lovingly planning the days and months ahead could hardly plan meals for the week when this all began -- you just had to choose from whatever the store still had.

Perhaps even harder, many of us have felt adrift in terms of our own sense of self. If your sense of who you are in the world derives in part from the meaningful work you do outside of your home - well, how do we see ourselves now? Before the pandemic, we so carefully structured our lives to remind ourselves at every opportunity who we are and how we make meaningful contributions in the world. And now, so many of those avenues are blocked off from us. Does that mean we are different?

We are all in the same proverbial boat. We are adrift, and the water is wide. 

We are entering a season in the Jewish calendar that could have been built for this time -- a season when our tradition asks precisely that we give up the structures we’ve built to organize our lives, that we refresh the ways we have related to God that have come to feel rote, and that we cut our own sense of self back to the quick to create space for new growth in the coming year. 

The good news is that the world has conspired to help us get moving on the journey this year, dropping us squarely onto the cyclical path that our ancestors have followed for generations, with precious little to distract us from it. This is the path of the high holidays, which begins long before Rosh Hashanah itself, with Tisha b’Av, the national Jewish day of mourning and fasting that commemorates the destruction of the first and second temples in Jerusalem. It is on this day of witnessing the falling of the temple walls and the loss of our physical spiritual center that we allow ourselves to feel the magnitude of this loss, and how it continues to reverberate for us today. Only then can we begin to move forward and find our way again, back home, back to one another. 

The bad news is that spiritual work is not all honey cakes and apples. We will miss the deep comfort of celebrating holidays as we always have. But we also trust our tradition, which tells us that following this winding labyrinth will take us to where we need to be, and perhaps we will even reemerge more whole and more clear than we were before. Like any journey of growth and change, it will move slowly, taking its time, weaving through the end of summer and into the fall. So, in this year like no other, we invite you to lean fully into this journey of teshuvah (return) with us.


Rabbi Lauren Henderson and Dr. Amy Robertson

The Core: Tefillah/Prayer

Our High Holiday services will be conducted primarily online including inspirational, musical services, interactive multigenerational services and Or Hadash classics like Kol Nidre, Jonah, and Havdalah. 

Teshuvah/Returning to Each Other IRL
(In Real Life!)

One of the most important parts of the high holiday experience is being in each other’s presence.  We’re designing several different ways during the Aseret Yemei Teshuvah
(the 10 Days of Return between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) for smaller groups to safely gather in person. These include Tashlich, Shofar blasts, Time to pray at the Ark, a Spiritual Hike and Youth and Adult Interactive Study Sessions.


As an important part of our community and our holiday experience, we will take our annual food drive virtual and allow you to put your Punam in the Pews. 

Preparing for the High Holiday Journey

Or Hadash will be offering programming throughout the summer and fall including:

  • This is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared: A High Holiday Book/Spiritual Discussion Group
  • Song Circle: Sharing Melodies for the High Holiday Season
  • Collaborative Music Video
  • Reading Eicha: Trauma and Protest, Together and Apart
  • Tisha b'Av... Beyond the Destruction
Mon, November 30 2020 14 Kislev 5781