High Holy Days 5781


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Dear Touro Synagogue Family,

The irony that this year’s High Holidays – one of our most ancient traditions – will be the first of their kind is really remarkable. In 5781, the path we will walk will be a blessing and an inspiration to those who come after us.   To that end, I’d like to make a few suggestions as we prepare our own home sanctuaries for the holidays. I’m hopeful that one or more will speak to you and support you as you join the congregation from your home.  

Prepare the space where you will be praying. Perhaps set up chairs ahead of time in front of your screen, whether computer, tablet, or television. Determine which direction in the room is East (downtown for most of us) so you can face it at certain times. 

Make sure you have your prayer book and Book of Remembrance nearby. Please plan to check out a High Holiday Siddur (prayer book) from Touro in the coming weeks.  For an online version of Mishkan HaNefesh or to purchase your own copy, please visit www.ccarnet.org/publications/hhd. (The Book of Remembrance and High Holiday Meditations booklet will arrive at your home by mail in the coming weeks. This will also be available as a PDF on our website.)  

Shelter service times from other commitments and pressures. When we’re gathered in the synagogue, this is easier to do. But it’s important to try and do it at home as well. Turn off devices and alerts, clear your schedule of work of any kind, and plan to be in the moment – Jewish time connects us across all space.

Enliven your senses for the High Holidays. This may mean wearing particular clothing or jewelry that sets the day apart. If you have a tallit, this is a great time to wear it – it’s customary on Rosh Hashanah morning, Kol Nidre, and all day on Yom Kippur.  Perhaps having something in the oven that will make the house smell like Rosh Hashanah. Perhaps it’s surrounding yourself with visual reminders of your Jewish heritage. 

Don’t “watch” the service. Participate in it!  Having services on a screen may prime us to think of them as some sort of show. We should be intentional about keeping them out of that realm. Read aloud, sing with Cantor, bend or sway at appointed times. It is our mindset that will break through the physical separation we’ll experience. 

Include your children when you can. Many have powerful memories of being in synagogue with our parents. Sometimes those memories include feeling bored or fidgety, but I imagine they also include curiosity and emotional attachment to this adult experience our elders were having that we were privy to.  This is a great opportunity to include our children without any worry of them disturbing others or being there too long. And to help with that, we have prepared and will make available some holiday-themed materials for our youngest members so that they can find ways to express themselves during prayer services. 

Through our commitment and determination, we will welcome our holidays despite the challenges, and when we do, we will add our voices to the glorious chorus of our people who have always been defined by creativity and resilience.   Nothing has ever kept our people from celebrating who we are and where we’ve come from, and that will be as true this year as ever. 

I’m looking so forward to being in prayerful connection with you during this sacred time.

L’shanah tovah umetukah,

Rabbi Katie Bauman


This High Holiday season we will be broadcasting our major services on WLAE-TV as well as livestreaming on our website and Facebook page. Other opportunities this season include small outdoor, in-person gatherings and Zoom sessions. Please refer to the legend below to learn how you can be a part of these experiences.

COX – Ch. 14 & 1014
CHARTER – Ch. 11 & 711
AT&T, DISH – Ch. 32
COMCAST – Ch. 1032 (Houma)
RTC – Ch. 2 (Reserve)
32.1 – WLAE HD
32.2 – WLAE Encore