High Holidays 5784 In Retrospect by Mark Packer

High Holidays 5784: In Retrospect
Mark Packer
Vice President and Ritual Committee Chair

For so long, it had only been a rumor. But now it’s confirmed. Music is the language of God.

Anyone who attended or watched our High Holiday services this year will agree. Along with our resident musicians (Steve Graff, Keith Jones, and Courtney LeBauer), Cantor Shira Ginsburg provided music for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur that can only be described as divine. By anyone’s reckoning, these services were among the most moving and engaging that we have ever had.

In addition to the wonderful music, our liturgy was adapted to the needs and preferences of a 21st century Reform congregation. The pace was brisk, repetition was reduced, and the meaning of the services was transparent and well-explained.

Cantor Ginsburg was a natural fit for our community. But her breathtaking musical talents were only part of the story. She is also an erudite spiritual leader, an articulate public speaker, and a deeply personable woman who was a sheer joy to be with.

Our deepest thanks go out to Tina Lyon, President of Congregation B’nai Israel, for making initial contact with Cantor Ginsburg and working with her throughout the High Holiday service schedule. As well, we are very grateful to the many participants who did readings, opened the ark, held and carried Torah scrolls, as well as lifted and dressed them, lit candles, responded to our requests for Aliyot, sounded the shofar, and provided beautiful flowers for our sanctuary. Thanks also to Jan for her hard work and flexibility, as well as the congregants who helped with technical and engineering issues, such as the fickle air conditioning. And of course, we are all indebted to the members of the Sisterhood who provided us with an exceptional meal to break the fast after services had concluded.

Most important, though, was the congregation’s intense engagement. During the Havdalah service, I was moved to tears as I stood by the side of the bema and saw our members in the fading golden sunlight singing along so joyously with the Cantor, arm-in arm, swaying with the rhythm of the beautiful music and the mood of that exquisite moment.

So thank you, each and every one, for making High Holiday services such a moving and memorable experience. The way we have started 5784 together makes me all the more eager to enjoy your company and fellowship during the year ahead.