High Holy Days

High Holy Days 2023 / 5784

Dear friends, Our world continues to turn at a remarkable pace. In our own community, the past year has brought much change. We welcomed Rabbi Alexandra Stein to our congregation and are now preparing for our newest clergy member, Cantor Sydney Michaeli, to join us and share her gifts. We completed our 60th year celebration and welcomed back even more in-person activities that had been paused or changed due to the challenges of the past few years. In Pirke Avot we read, “Turn it and turn it, for everything is in it.” We are reminded that the Torah contains many layers and lessons just waiting to be discovered. No matter what we might be searching for or need in a particular moment, we can surely find it in our sacred text if our minds and hearts are open. No matter who we are in any given moment or where we are in our own personal journey, there are lessons for us to learn and insights that can spark meaning and connection as we read the Torah anew each year. We look forward to the opportunity to come together as a full congregation again, pausing to reflect on this past year and turning to the newness that 5784 will surely bring. Together we will lift our voices in prayer, in song, and in joy, celebrating our return to this holy moment and sharing our gratitude for being together. Shana Tovah u’mtukah, Rabbi Amy Schwartzman Cantor Michael Shochet Rabbi Jeffrey Saxe Rabbi Alexandra Stein Cantor Sydney Michaeli

Register for High Holy Day Services

TRS Member High Holy Day Service Registration

If you are a TRS member, please click here for information about our services. You may register for services here or by contacting the Temple office.

Non-Member Registration

Non-TRS members may register for services here

Read the High Holy Day Sermons

Read the High Holy Day sermons written by our clergy.

Learn About the High Holy Days

Learn more about the High Holy Days and find recipes and more below!

High Holy Day FAQs

Jews often say: “The holidays are late this year” or “The holidays are early this year.” In fact, the holidays never are early or late; they are always on time, according to the Jewish calendar.

Unlike the Gregorian (civil) calendar, which is based on the sun (solar), the Jewish calendar is based primarily on the moon (lunar), with periodic adjustments made to account for the differences between the solar and lunar cycles. Therefore, the Jewish calendar might be described as both solar and lunar. The moon takes an average of twenty-nine and one-half days to complete its cycle; twelve lunar months equal 354 days. A solar year is 365 1/4 days. There is a difference of eleven days per year. To ensure that the Jewish holidays always fall in the proper season, an extra month is added to the Hebrew calendar seven times out of every nineteen years. If this were not done, the fall harvest festival of Sukkot, for instance, would sometimes be celebrated in the summer, or the spring holiday of Passover would sometimes occur in the winter.

Jewish days are reckoned from sunset to sunset rather than from dawn or midnight. The basis for this is biblical. In the story of Creation (Genesis 1), each day concludes with the phrase: “And there was evening and there was morning. . .” Since evening is mentioned first, the ancient rabbis concluded that in a day evening precedes morning.

Although the High Holy Days (or High Holidays) — the two days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur  — occupy only three days, they lie within a web of liturgy and customs that extend from the beginning of the Hebrew month of Elul through Yom Kippur. Many communities also think of Sukkot and Simchat Torah, which closely follow Yom Kippur, as part of the High Holy Days season.

Read more about the entire High Holy Days season here:

  • Selichot, which translates to “forgiveness,” is a holiday that combines repentance, beauty and meaning. Many Reform communities have built their own traditions around Selichot.
  • Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year, gives us time to look back at the last year and consider about ways to improve ourselves and our communities in the coming one. We eat apples and honey to celebrate a sweet new year and round challot to symbolize the cycle of the year. Some families also eat pomegranate seeds during Rosh Hashanah because, according to legend, the number of seeds inside represent the number of good deeds you will do in the new year.
  • Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is a day devoted entirely to fasting and repentance. Some Jews may choose to fast from food and water completely, while others choose symbolic fasts (i.e. a fast from electronics, sweets, social media, etc) or not fast at all. Our community supports all ways of observing Yom Kippur.
  • Sukkot is one of the most joyful holidays on the Jewish calendar, and the only one with an explicit commandment to rejoice. It celebrates the fall harvest, expressed by blessing and waving the lulav and the etrog, symbols of the harvest; by building and decorating a sukkah; and by extending hospitality to friends and family.
  • Simchat Torah and Sh’mini Atzeret immediately follow Sukkot. This is a fun-filled day during which we celebrate the completion of the annual reading of the Torah by taking the Torah scrolls from the ark and carrying or dancing them around the synagogue seven times.

Traditionally, Jews age 13 and over fast on Yom Kippur in order to move “beyond” our corporeal body and focus more clearly on atonement and spirituality. However, this ritual is not one-size-fits all. Even the Torah acknowledges that, and exempts those who are ill or pregnant from the fast.

If the fast will negatively affect your health (physical or mental) in any way, there are other ways to observe Yom Kippur meaningfully. Fasting is not meant to endanger your life or your health.

Read more about observing Yom Kippur here: “Your Guide to Fasting (or Not) on Yom Kippur.”

Julia Tortorello-Allen’s essay, “Why I Won’t be Fasting on Yom Kippur,” is also a good resource (note that it contains a brief description of an eating disorder).

And don’t forget — if you take medications, you should still take them on Yom Kippur, even if you need to drink or eat to do so.

Resources, Recipes and More

9 Things You Didn’t Know About Rosh Hashanah

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How to Braid Challah for Shabbat, Holidays or Anytime

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Rosh Hashanah Traditional Foods and Recipes

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Must-Know Rosh Hashanah Words and Phrases

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9 Things You Didn’t Know About Yom Kippur

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10 Things the Shofar Symbolizes

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Homemade Gravlax for Yom Kippur Break-Fast

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Must-Know Yom Kippur Words and Phrases

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