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At Beth El we seek to provide many different ways to access Jewish practices and community. Whether you are joining us in person or on Zoom, your presence and participation elevate our communal observance of this sacred season. We welcome your presence, your voice and your exploration as part of our community at Beth El’s High Holy Days. A full schedule of our High Holy Day services and programs is available here.

There are many opportunities to volunteer: ushering, participating in Torah services, sounding the shofar, offering an English reading during a service, and more. Please consider supporting our community by clicking here to sign up for a role during one of our services and here to sign up as an usher.

All Beth El services include English and Hebrew, combining honored historical prayers with inspiring modern texts. Our machzor includes English transliteration of all Hebrew prayers along with translations and alternative readings. Rabbi Rebekah Stern, Rabbi Ira Rosenberg and Cantor Elaya Jenkins-Adelberg officiate at all services, assisted by congregational volunteers. 

Our Machzor: Mishkan HaNefesh
This year we will continue using the machzor (High Holy Day prayerbook) of the Reform Movement, Mishkan HaNefesh. These beautiful books feel familiar to those of us who enjoyed using Congregation Beth El’s draft Machzor Ha-Makom in recent years, including both the layout and some of the beloved English readings to which we have grown accustomed. For those joining us on Zoom for the High Holy Days, although we will again be sharing digital copies of the liturgy for use during each service, your experience will be significantly enhanced if you can hold your own copy of the machzorim in your hands. You may order directly through the CCAR Press website - be sure to use our 15% discount by entering MHN15 at checkout! Kindle users are invited to download Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur machzorim to your Kindle app for use either in the Sanctuary in person or remotely. (Note that the user experience on the Kindle app used on a tablet may be better than on a Kindle device.)

Early Services
Early Services feature familiar and participatory music, our 4th Friday musicians, congregant reflections on Rosh Hashanah morning, and a short d’rash (sermon) or text study on Kol Nidrei and Yom Kippur morning. The shorter duration and more familiar and participatory melodies in this service make it especially accessible for children, teens and their families. Everyone is welcome to attend Early Services which will be held outdoors in our beautiful Founders Grove and on Zoom. The shofar will be heard at a dedicated Shofar Service on the afternoon of Rosh Hashanah. On both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur mornings, the Torah service will take place during the Late Service only.

Late Services
Late Services feature the special melodies and nusach (musical mode) of the High Holy Days, participatory and majestic music, our Beth El chorus, congregant reflections (on Rosh Hashanah morning) and rabbinic drashot (sermons). Everyone is welcome to attend Late Services which will be held in our Sanctuary and on Zoom. The shofar will be heard at a special Shofar Service on the afternoon of Rosh Hashanah.

Childcare is available for children in preschool through 6th grade. Children are also welcome to attend all of our services under their families’ supervision. Proof of COVID Vaccination must be provided for every child registered for childcare.  Children in 6th grade and below must be in childcare or supervised by a responsible adult at all times, and may not roam the synagogue campus unattended. Childcare is provided by our Camp Kee Tov staff and incorporates activities that reflect the themes of the High Holy Days. 

Please note the following important safety policies: 

Check-in takes place in the BENS wing and begins 15 minutes before the start of each service and continues for 15 minutes after the service start time. After that time, children will be divided into two groups based on age/grade level. During evening services older children will go to the youth lounge and during morning services will be taken to Live Oak Park; younger children will remain in the BENS wing and yard for both evening and morning services. Children will not be permitted to sign themselves out of childcare, or to move back and forth between childcare and the service, unless accompanied by a parent or guardian. Older children who arrive after the 30-minute check-in window must first be signed in by a parent or guardian with the childcare staff in the BENS wing before being walked by their parent or guardian to an upstairs classroom in the Beit Limmud in the evenings or to Live Oak Park in the mornings. Please note that we do not offer diaper changing services. Advance registration is required. Please register and pay for childcare online.

Infants and children under age two are welcome to play or rest in the Children’s Library with a parent or caregiver during services.

Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur Ruach
Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur Ruach services are an interactive, musical, and engaging experience created especially for families with young children in preschool through 2nd grade. Siblings, family members and friends of all ages are warmly invited to join us! These brief and joyful services are led by Rabbi Rebekah Stern, Rabbi Ira Rosenberg and Cantor Elaya Jenkins-Adelberg with support from Early Childhood Education Director Jodi Gladstone and members of our Beth El Nursery School teaching team and are held outdoors in our Founders Grove and also on Zoom.

Teen High Holy Day Experience (6th-12th Grades)
Our Beth El Teen community will join together on Rosh HaShanah morning and Yom Kippur afternoon for a creative and engaging experience reflecting on the themes of the High Holy Days. On Rosh HaShanah the program will run concurrently with the late service, and our teens will then join the greater Beth El community for the remainder of the service (in time for the Torah service). On Yom Kippur, our teens will gather at Beth El from 2:30-3:45pm.

Shofar Service & Tashlich B'yachad
The shofar will be sounded at a special Shofar Service on the afternoon of Rosh Hashanah. We recall the sounds of the shofar across the ages and its summons as we listen to the sounds of t’kiah, sh’varim, t’ruah and conclude with the T’kiah G’dolah! Our Shofar Service will be immediately followed by a brief Tashlich Service. Tashlich is the medieval custom of “casting our transgressions into the depths of the sea.” An uplifting and contemplative communal gathering, Tashlich concludes the observance of Rosh Hashanah. The brief service and tangible ritual are accessible to people of all ages. Our Shofar Service & Tashlich, held this year in our Founders Grove and on Zoom, is an opportunity for our whole community to come together - B’yachad - to celebrate and mark the end of the first day of the New Year. Following the service in the Founders Grove we will walk together to Live Oak Park to symbolically cast off our transgressions into the waters of Codornices Creek. All are invited to bring a picnic dinner and to stay and picnic in the park following tashlich.

Rosh HaShanah Afternoon Picnic
Join Beth El members for a Rosh Hashanah afternoon picnic! The b'nei mitzvah class of 2021 is hosting the Beth El community for a Rosh Hashanah afternoon potluck. Walk across the street and down a block to the grass of Live Oak Park (near Walnut St). Bring something to share for lunch or a late afternoon snack and join fellow Beth El members as we welcome the new year with food and friends. We will be in the park until the Shofar Services begins at 3:30pm back in the Founders Grove at Beth El.

Second Day Rosh HaShanah Service
The second day of Rosh Hashanah is an intimate, slower-paced opportunity to listen, pray, sing and learn together. Led by the Beth El clergy, our Second Day Rosh Hashanah service will move through the High Holy Day liturgy, including the Shofar and Torah service and will be held in the Sanctuary and on Zoom.

Kever Avot v'Imahot: Visiting Graves of Loved Ones
On Sunday, September 17th, everyone is invited to join Beth El's Chevra Kadisha leaders Leo Levenson and Yael Galinson for our annual High Holy Day cemetery visit, Kever Avot v’Imahot. This is an informal opportunity to visit the graves of our own loved ones as well as those who lived among us, many of whom were the early builders of our Beth El community. We will also recall our loved ones who rest elsewhere and whose memories we carry with us.

This year we are going to visit both cemeteries that Beth El is affiliated with:

From 2:00-2:45 pm, please join us at Gan Shalom Cemetery at 1000 Bear Creek Road, 94553, near Briones Regional Park. This is the newer cemetery where Beth El and Beth Hillel have reserved additional plots for our members. We will meet outside the little office building just off the parking lot.

From 3:15-4:00 pm, please join us at Rolling Hills Memorial Park at 4100 Hilltop Drive in Richmond, in the Tel Shalom section. This is the cemetery where Beth El joined with Beth Hillel in Richmond many years ago to reserve a special section for our members.

Yom Kippur Yizkor & Yizkor Circle
At our Yom Kippur Yizkor service, we remember all of our loved ones who have died. This service is held in our Sanctuary and on Zoom. During the registration process for the High Holy Days at Beth El, everyone is invited to submit a picture of our loved ones who have died, to be included in our High Holy Day Gallery of Remembrance.

Just prior to our Yizkor service, at 4:00 pm on Yom Kippur afternoon, all are invited to a facilitated conversation to share stories of loss, love, memory and grief at the Yizkor Circle during the second block of Yom Kippur afternoon programs. 

Yizkor, Judaism’s communal service of remembrance and mourning, is observed four times each year: on Yom Kippur afternoon and at the conclusion of the three biblical pilgrimage festivals: Sukkot, Pesach and Shavuot.

The ten Days of Awe draw to a close at the Ne’ilah service at the end of Yom Kippur, held in our Sanctuary and on Zoom. As the light begins to fade, the melodies and texts take on renewed urgency as the hour of Ne’ilah — the closing of the gates — approaches.  We joyfully conclude Yom Kippur with the final sounding of the Shofar for this New Year’s season. Everyone is invited to participate in this shofar sounding! If you will be participating in person, be sure to bring your own shofar to the service.

Z’man Simchateinu: Celebrating Sukkot Together
The Festival of Sukkot is known as z’man simchateinu - the season of our joy! We’ll gather together in our beautiful Beth El sukkah, built right into our Founders Grove, to celebrate the beginning of the weeklong festival with an evening service on Friday, September 29, and a morning service on Saturday, September 30. 

The Shabbat that falls during Sukkot doubles our joy, and this year we’ll celebrate in our Sukkah with a special blessing for the new members of our Beth El community. The service will also be accessible on Zoom. We’ll conclude with a delicious dinner for all, enjoyed together in community under our beautiful oak trees, with the opportunity to bring our plates to enjoy the meal in the sukkah.

On Sunday October 1st, Beth El members will be opening their own sukkot to visitors from our community for two-hour blocks between 11:00 am and 5:00 pm. Spend a few hours visiting different sukkot or pop into just one.

Planning to build a sukkah? Sign up to host for the whole day or for a shorter period if that’s best for your household. We’ll be organizing two-hour blocks so even if you host you’ll have time to visit others.

Sukkah curious? We’re happy to help you make a plan for making a sukkah! Making a sukkah can be as easy (or as complicated) as you want. Emily Marthinsen, Yonatan Frisch and others on the Ritual Committee are here to provide support and lend a hand.

And, if you’d also like to host at another time during the holiday, just us know that, too. Add your information to this sign up sheet or contact Emily Marthinsen with questions

Yizkor, Judaism’s communal service of remembrance and mourning, is observed four times each year: on Yom Kippur afternoon and at the conclusion of the three biblical pilgrimage festivals: Sukkot, Pesach and Shavuot. Our Sukkot Yizkor service will be held in our Beth El sukkah and on Zoom as Sukkot ends on Monday evening 10/6.

Simchat Torah: A Celebration for Everyone!
Our High Holy Day season goes out with a bang, as we celebrate reading the last few verses of the Torah in Deuteronomy and start right back up again with the first few verses of Genesis. Join us for a Simchat Torah Party full of ruach [spirit], Torah inspired activities, Torah reading, and high energy singing and dancing with support from our 4th Friday musicians! This year we’ll also honor our newest YAFE [Youth and Family Education] learners with a special blessing. The celebration concludes with the unscrolling of the whole Torah around our Sanctuary! This joyful end of our High Holy Day season is especially accessible for younger children, teens and their families and will conclude with a dedicated learning session for adults and teens.

Thu, June 13 2024 7 Sivan 5784