God commands us to choose life, to walk in the path of the good and of Torah.
High Holidays 5784: In Retrospect
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.
You may have heard by now that High Holiday services will be conducted this year by Shira Ginsburg, Cantor Emerita at East End Temple in Manhattan.
Cantor Ginsburg brings with her a powerful resume, consisting of 20 years of professional experience on the pulpit, five recorded albums, and extensive theatrical performances nationwide. You can see a promotional video of her work on YouTube CLICKHERE and can find a considerable amount of her work on Apple Music.
Working with our resident musicians, Cantor Ginsburg will be with us for Erev Rosh Hashanah, as well as the first day of Rosh Hashanah, Kol Nidre, and Yom Kippur morning and afternoon services.
After consulting with the Cantor in my capacity as Ritual Committee chair, she and I are adapting our High Holiday services to the needs of a 21st century Reform synagogue. This year, we will be observing Rosh Hashanah on the first day of the holiday only, and all of the services will be streamlined to their essentials.
Moreover, in keeping with the traditions of Reform Judaism, we will be assigning the aliyot on an egalitarian basis this year, rather than reserving the first ones for Cohanim and Levis.
This is in keeping with the idea of the Jewish people as “a nation of priests,” as we are described in the Torah, rather than a hereditary hierarchy.
Other changes will be made as Cantor Ginsburg and I continue developing service scripts that we believe will be contemporary, spiritually satisfying and aesthetically engaging.
Instead of making cold calls to congregants this year to request participation in our services, we are asking for volunteers to help us with our readings (in English), ark openings, as well Torah liftings and dressings.
Please let me know at your earliest convenience if you would like to participate in this moment of change for our congregation by volunteering to become involved. I can be reached at my email address or cell phone (call or text).
I thank you in advance for your engagement and support. I’m looking forward with special enthusiasm to sharing the holidays with you.
Please see “Temple Topics” for a complete holiday schedule.
Vice President and Ritual Committee Chair
The Temple Board, the Temple Ritual Committee and I are all very excited about the visit of our guest, Cantor Shira Ginsburg, during our upcoming High Holy Days.
Our very own Dr. Mark Packer has been instrumental in planning the upcoming High Holiday services with Cantor Shira Ginsburg. Please be sure to read the information headlined at the beginning of our Temple Topics this month. There you will find information about our guest Cantor and the schedule for the upcoming High Holy Day services.
Please be sure to RSVP for the Break- the-Fast as soon as possible.
I wish everyone a happy, healthy and sweet new year and I am looking forward to seeing each of you during the High Holy Days.
Temple B’nai Israel President
- Please call the office or send an email as soon as possible regarding your memorials in the Yizkor Book. The deadline for this was August 31, but we will extend the deadline until Wednesday, September 6. We must have ample time to edit memorials and print the books.
- Full page is $136, 1/2 is $54, 1/4 page is $36, and 1/6 page is $18.
The Seder table is centered with pristine white roses, as many gather and tell stories of Moses. Eight days of traditions and rituals solely for the religious, and spiritual. Pass the kosher matzo over here. It’s beautiful Passover my peers. Let’s sing and sip on some sweet wine, and embrace this lovely Jewish holiday time.