High Holidays

5 Synagogue Inclusion How-Tos For The Holidays

Ready or not, the High Holy Days are upon us!

Recently, Jewish Learning Venture hosted a webinar on “High Holiday Inclusion” as part of outreach to clergy and lay leadership in the Philadelphia vicinity. We are sharing some tips that we hope your community can utilize, either this year or in the future, to make your synagogue truly a house of worship for all people.

Clergy and synagogue staff can easily and cheaply do a lot to make services a happy and calm experience for everyone. Fotolia

High Holiday Resources From 'Gateways: Access To Jewish Education'

Gateways is a Boston-area organization that provides special education services, expertise and support to enable students with diverse learning needs to succeed in Jewish education settings and participate in Jewish life.

Towards this goal, we have created for the community a range of High Holiday resources: tools for educators and parents of young children and students with special needs.

Gateways has created special needs resources for the High Holidays, including season-specific blessings. Image via JGateways.org

Breaking News: New Disability-Sensitive High Holiday Service In Brooklyn!

East Midwood Jewish Center’s High Holy Days schedule of services and events grows this year with the addition of a new service sensitive to persons with a variety of needs. Their Sunday, September 8th service is between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, from 11:00 to noon. Cantor Sam Levine, with the assistance of friends from the EMJC community, will lead a lively and engaging service of prayer, Torah, song, story, music-making, and shofar blowing in a supportive atmosphere full of holiday joy.

Head to Brooklyn for a high holiday service designed with people who have disabilities in mind.

'Do Not Cast Us Aside At The Time Of Old Age'

After Shabbat next weekend, synagogues everywhere will conduct Selichot, the penitential prayer services. We will acknowledge God's sovereignty, confess our shortcomings yearn to be close to our Creator -- and we wil recite the "Shema Kolenu" prayer.

Rabbi Michael Levy

Elul In A Time Of Social Media

08/14/2013 - 20:00

That I spend a lot of time thinking about community should hardly come as a surprise, since being a congregational rabbi is all about fostering a sense of community.  I want the members of my congregation to feel that their synagogue is a second home for them.  And, of course, the synagogue itself needs to relate to the larger community as a whole. 

When all is said and done, this is my work– my professional responsibility.  Yes, of course I teach, and preach, officiate at weddings and funerals, and do all the other things that pulpit rabbis do.  That, too, is my work.  But it all flows from a larger sense of “belonging” that hopefully is what binds my members to our particular synagogue setting.

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik is spiritual leader of the Forest Hills Jewish Center.

Fairway And The KOF-K

Prepared holiday meals available at all 13 Fairways this year.
08/14/2013 - 20:00
Staff Writer

Fairway Market, the grocery store giant known for kosher products like European house-brand olive oil, is making its prepared holiday meals available in many more of its stores this year – all 13 of them.

Customers at the Upper West Side store will be able to buy prepared kosher holiday meals this year. Photo courtesy Fairway

Meet eScapegoat, The Atonement App

08/11/2013 - 20:00
Staff Writer

No matter how knotty debates about privacy on the web get -- ahem, Facebook -- people who want to simultaneously keep their secrets and share them still feel safe on the internet. Take, for example, PostSecret.com, the website that displays artful postcards on which people have written their secrets.

He, or his avatar, will relieve you of the burden of sin. Fotolia

Holiday Preparations, Part II

Editor's Note: On July 5, the New Normal published Part I of this piece, which exhorts people with disabilities to take ownership of their High Holiday experience by discussing necessary accommodations in advance with their rabbi and synagogue staff. In Part II, Rabbi Michael Levy suggests specific questions people with disabilities might find useful to ask in the days leading up to Rosh Hashannah, which starts September 4.

An Important Turning Point

My parents, may they rest in peace, once did all my High Holiday planning. When I began exploring other synagogues, it became my rightful responsibility to arrange for Braille prayer books wherever I worshipped. This was, of course, essential when it was I who was leading the services. We must each consider our disability and plan accordingly.

Rabbi Michael Levy

Kafka for the Holidays?

Timing is everything: Given this year’s High Holy Days schedule, along with the renewed rush that arrives after Labor Day, coordinating a Sunday evening in September for our first synagogue Book Group meeting of the season proved more challenging than choosing what we would read, which we’d discussed before our summer break. Thus it happened that the only Sunday available was the one that fell between the Ten Days, after Rosh HaShanah and two evenings prior to Yom Kippur. Our reading selection: “Metamorphosis” and other stories by Franz Kafka.  

Kafka's Metamorphosis is surprisingly appropriate reading during the High Holiday season.
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