No one can disagree: Rosh Hashana 5781 will be a new and wholly different experience.
But let’s start with the familiar: our vibrant community.
We’ve adapted to change (and been ahead of the curve) for decades, and all the more so during this pandemic and ensuing time of social distancing. We’ve had wonderful Shabbat services on Zoom, we’ve celebrated myriad life cycle events, and we’ve stayed connected through holidays. And – most importantly – we haven’t lost the spirit of Aitz Hayim, which is what’s made this such a special community over the years.
We’re also thrilled to share that Rabbi Elan Babchuck will be with us again,continuing to draw on his expertise in innovative Judaism to lead services, inspire us, challenge us, and connect with us using a number of different platforms.
Howard Levy, Larry Gray and Kalyan Pathak are already recording unbelievable music using all the instruments they have in their homes. And, of course, David Landau will be joined by Judith Golden and Susan Olken.
So… what’s new?
Well, for one, we won’t be together in person. So, Rabbi Babchuck has been working for the past couple of months on developing innovative ways for us to experience the High Holidays and community, including:
For Tashlich, we’ll join “together” via conference call for a guided meditation by the water.
For Torah readings, we will join together as a whole community for the readings, and then utilize breakout rooms with a variety of rabbis that Rabbi Babchuck has taught in recent years who will serve as facilitators. And yes – we’ll still do our themed group aliyot!
For erev Rosh Hashana, we’ll join together on Zoom (with a new “Rosh Hashana Haggadah” in hand) for a virtual RoshHashana seder, complete with activities, readings, prayers, reflection, and (at least) 4 cups of wine.
We believe that this year we will draw on the best of Aitz Hayim to create an experience that will be truly worthwhile for our community including those who are separated physically who wish to join us. This may be the first time you can be with parents, sibs, cousins and friends who are away. This year separateness may bring us together.
We are a community that supports itself by the dues of its members and also by providing access to our High Holiday services to non-members. Though no synagogue knows what the coming year holds, we are confident that those who are invested in Jewish living through Aitz Hayim will continue in supporting the community and invite those who want to participate in ways never possible before.
Forms for High Holiday access are in the site menu. Stay involved. We thank you for your contribution to the sustenance and vitality of our Judaism.