At Kol Nidre services last week at Central Synagogue, the historic Reform congregation in Manhattan, Peter Rubinstein offered his last High Holy Day sermon as senior rabbi after 23 years in that post. He billed his talk “A Love Letter,” and in an emotional 30-minute address, he explained that it was being delivered “from me to each and all of you … and it’s about the legacy we have created together and that is now yours to carry on.”
For members of a synagogue, the preparation for the High Holy Days season starts weeks, if not months before Rosh HaShanah.
In some congregations, there are the daily selichot prayers that are recited during the month of Elul that precedes Tishrei, and additions to the daily worship services. There is increased giving of tzedakah and the performance of good deeds. For some, a new machzor; for others, a new outfit.
For rabbis, sermons to write.
For cantors and choirs, melodies to rehearse. For the synagogue itself, there’s also a period of preparation.