High Holy Days 5777

The Days of Awe

כִּפּוּר      ATONEMENT

Yamim Nora’im usually means Days of Awe. The forgiveness-seeker in Yehuda Amichai’s poem hears the phrase differently; for him, they are awful days.

Forgive me already now, three months
before the awful days of forgiveness.
I fear that I won’t get there.
I scatter the Day of Atonement over the surface of the whole year.
Grapes ripen in their season.
So how will sins and their atonement ripen in one day?

Click here for original Hebrew.

In this short poem, the seeker is eager for the atonement work of The Day—but not when it is condensed into only one day! For him, the Day of Atonement together with the nine preceding Days of Awe are an artificial season—awful, and too far away! 

She argues that grapes ripen in their season. Sins and atonement should have growing seasons as well; watered and warmed by personal climates and rhythms, ripening in their own time. Ripe sins and atonement are homegrown, not imported. Atonement out of season is chalky, tasteless, and artificial.

To scatter the Day of Atonement over the surface of the whole year is to seed every day with the work of The Day, and to be ready for its harvests.

What is the work of reflection and atonement that you need to be doing now? How might you make space today and each day for some of this work? How can you align your personal rhythm of reflection, awareness and atonement with our shared calendar so that when the High Holy days arrive, they are Days of Awe and meaning? 

“Atonement”: Yehuda Amichai; 
Translation and commentary: Rabbi Steve Sagar, Sicha, Durham, NC
Adapted for Congregation Beth El by Rabbi Yoel Kahn 

The registration deadline for High Holy Days has now passed. Passes for anyone who registered before September 28 will be available at the welcome desk. If you did not register in time for the deadline, passes may be obtained at the welcome desk upon arrival at Beth El for services.

High Holy Days 5777 Calendar

For a schedule of services/events click here to download and print.


S’lichot Service

Saturday, September 24

Dessert reception, havdalah, and an evening of inspiration, 7:30 pm

Erev Rosh Hashanah

Sunday, October 2

Evening Service*, 7:30 pm

Rosh Hashanah

Monday, October 3

Early Service*, 8:45 am
Tot Service, 10:30 am
Late Service*, 11:30 am
BESTY/Sababa Teen Service, 11:30 am
Tashlich and BYO Picnic Basket (Meet at Live Oak Park), 2:30 pm    



Family Service and Tashlich, 3:30 pm

Second Day Rosh Hashanah

Tuesday, October 4

Service and Lunch, 10:15 am

Kever Avot: Visiting the Graves of Loved Ones

Sunday, October 9

at Tel Shalom Memorial Park, 11:00 am

Erev Yom Kippur: Kol Nidre

Tuesday, October 11

Early Service*, 6:00 pm
Late Service*, 8:30 pm

Yom Kippur

Wednesday, October 12

Early Service*, 8:45 am
Tot Service, 10:30 am
Late Service*, 11:30 am
BESTY/Sababa Teen Service, 11:30 am
Afternoon Discussions and Programs, Session I, 2:30 pm
Family Service (Children K–5th grade), 3:00 pm
Afternoon Discussions and Programs, Session II, 4:00 pm
Mincha (Afternoon Service), 4:00 pm
Yizkor Circle, 4:00 pm
Yizkor (Memorial) Service, 5:30 pm
Ne’ilah followed by Break Fast, 6:15 pm


Sunday, October 16

Festival Evening Service and Dinner in the Sukkah, 6:15 pm

Monday, October 17

Festival Morning Service and Lunch in the Sukkah, 10:15 am

Friday, October 21

Sangria in the Sukkah & Yismechu Shabbat, 5:30 pm

Sunday, October 23

Yizkor Service in Memory of Our Children, 1:00 pm

Monday, October 24

Festival Morning Service with Yizkor (Memorial) Service &
Lunch in the Sukkah, 10:15 am

Simchat Torah

Tuesday, October 25

Simchat Torah Dinner, 5:30 pm
Simchat Torah Celebration, 6:15 pm
Dancing, Music, Torah Reading and more!

Services with an asterisk (*) next to them require tickets.

5776 Drashot (Sermons)

Rabbi Yoel Kahn Rosh Hashanah — "Creating a Shabbat Practice"

Rabbi Yoel Kahn Yom Kippur 5776 — "Second Naivete and Mature Zionism"

Rabbi Rebekah Stern Kol Nidre 5776 — "A Call to Action in the Season of Awakening"

Jennifer Brand
Jim Gilbert
Erika Kaske
Lianna Louie
Renee Passy-Zale
Sondra Napell - Article from the Builder

5775 Drashot (Sermons)

Rabbi Kahn's Rosh Hashanah drash: "Cultivating the Soul - the Holiness of the Self"
Rabbi Kahn's Yom Kippur drash: "The Mi Shebeirach Prayer"
Rabbi Stern's Yom Kippur drash: "The Sacred Power of This Day: Learning to Begin with the End in Mind"

A diverse group of Beth El members reflected during the 5775 Rosh Hashanah morning services on the question, “Who/What am I as a Jew?” A panel of Beth El members spoke at each service.Their talks can be read by clicking on the links below:

Doug Arnold
Steve Kurzman
Florence Lewis
M. S. 


Please check back soon for a schedule of Open Sukkah's around town hosted by our members!

Sukkot begins on the evening of Sunday, October 16 and continues through the evening of Sunday, October 23, concluding with Shmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah. 

Yizkor Service in Memory of Our Children

Sunday, October 23 at 1:00 pm

We will hold a special Sukkot Yizkor service in memory of children of all ages and stages of development who have died. We will recognize those lost as miscarriages, those stillborn, as infants, as children and as adults. 

Yizkor, Judaism’s communal service of remembrance and mourning, is observed four times a year: on Yom Kippur afternoon and at the conclusion of the three biblical pilgrimage festivals, Sukkot, Pesach and Shavuot. This special Yizkor service has been created by Project Nechama, Beth El’s response to pregnancy and neonatal loss. 

In addition to this special service, the congregation will hold its Sukkot Yizkor Service in memory of all our loved ones on Monday, October 24 at 10:15 am.

High Holy Days for Youth and Families

Tickets are not required for the following programs. 

  • Tot Services on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (10:30 am) are short family services held outside under the oak trees. Geared toward our preschool age children and their families, these services will be led by Rabbi Rebekah Stern.
  • BESTY/Sababa Teen Services on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (11:30 am) are designed and led by our high school youth group BESTY (Beth El Synagogue Teen Youth), and are geared toward 6th-12th graders. At the conclusion of the teens-only part of the service, participants will join the sanctuary service for the Torah reading and welcome in the New Year with the rest of the adult community as the shofar is sounded.
  • Rosh Hashanah Family Service and Tashlich (3:30 pm) takes place in the afternoon at Tilden Park’s Lake Anza. This special outdoor service and program is geared toward K–5th graders and their families, though all are welcome! We begin the participatory and musical service, led by Rabbi Rebekah Stern and song leader, Isaac Zones, with adults and children together, then K–5th graders will head to the beach for holiday programming led by Camp Kee Tov counselors, affording the adults an opportunity to share in a time of New Year’s reflections. Children and adults will gather together again for tashlich, the ritual of casting away our transgressions. Bring bread for tashlich, blanket or camping chair, a picnic dinner (if you wish), and a shofar to celebrate in the park! (Note: please dress in park/beach-appropriate clothing and avoid leaving valuables in your car.)
  • Yom Kippur Family Service (3:00 pm) is offered in the afternoon in the sanctuary. It is designed especially for children grades K–5 and their families, and is led by Rabbi Yoel Kahn and song leader Isaac Zones.
  • Childcare is available for children pre-school through 5th grade. Childcare is provided by our Camp Kee Tov staff and incorporates activities that reflect the themes of the High Holy Days. Childcare begins 15 minutes before the start of each service and ends 15 minutes after each service concludes. Please note that we do not offer diaper changing services. Advance registration is required. Please register with the this form or online.
  • Infants and Children under 2 are welcome in the Children’s Library with a parent or caregiver during services. The services will be audible through our sound system.