Preparing for Havurah High Holidays at Home

The rabbis of old called the home a “mikdash me’at”, a small sanctuary, and so it shall be with Havurah High Holidays at Home!

Here are a few suggestions for your preparation and intention to co-create, along with me and many Havurah volunteers,  a great experience for you and your family:  

YOUR SACRED SPACE AT HOME

Many of us have been on Zoom for work, social gatherings, and school. So how do we use the same format to create a space that FEELS different and special?

  • Get flowers, ritual items like candles, apples and honey, and/or other beautiful visuals to make your space feel special.
  • Set up somewhere that is both comfortable and that allows you to focus and engage (a space without a lot of distractions that draw your attention to things like undone dishes in the sink, for example!)
  • Consider connecting your computer to a TV screen so it feels less like a work or school  device.
  • Try to limit or disconnect auditory distractions. You can turn off your email and text message ping sounds, and/or close your email program and other apps so you can be fully present during the services.
  • If you’re tech savvy, perhaps create a virtual background that conveys a “Shana Tova” message, or has symbols of the new year!*
  • You get the idea – prepare ahead to turn your home into your “mikdash me’at”! 

ACTIVITIES FOR FAMILIES AND KIDS

  • PJ Library’s High Holidays at Home booklet has fantastic resources, from baking apple desserts to round challahs, having a Rosh HaShanah seder at your dinner table (check it out – most people don’t know that Passover isn’t the only time for a seder!), to wonderful introductions to key High Holiday prayers.
  • In addition to the High Holidays at Home booklet above, the PJ Library site has recommendations for books, videos, and activities for kids from the age of 2 up to young teens. Check it out and customize it to meet your family’s interests!
  • We hope you will plan to join us at our Tashlich at Shortridge Park at 3 pm on Rosh HaShanah, where we will be masked and gathered in a socially distant way, but if you decide to stay home, here are some ideas for Tashlich even without a river to toss your breadcrumbs into!
  • We’ll be suggesting a few more specific ways for your kids to engage with High Holiday activities while the general service is happening (after the children’s service) in the coming days, so stay tuned. Please have poster board or large paper, and crayons or markers on hand. 

SPIRITUAL PREPARATION and REFLECTION

In the Jewish calendar and holiday cycle, spiritual reflection, learning, and intention setting traditionally begin an entire month ahead of Rosh HaShanah! We’ve got twelve days to go as I write this…but who’s counting?! Here are a few ways to take some time ahead of time to do some introspection about the year that has passed and the year ahead:

RE-CONNECTING TO THE GROUND OF COMMUNITY

  • If you are a Havurah member, and plan to continue as a member in the coming year but haven’t yet registered, please do so here! This year more than ever before, we encourage registration as early as possible due to the uncertainties of the pandemic. Thank you!
  • Last year we had Narberth Havurah  lawn signs around Narberth, and it was noticed by many people. Help us spread the word about our community by putting your lawn sign out again this year, or contacting us at info@narberthhavurah.org if you’d like a new one. 
  • Invite friends and family to join you and us for the holidays!
  • We are still looking for people to help with Zoom tech behind the scenes for our HH services, and also for some people who love to sing, or who would like to volunteer to do a reading during services. Contact rabbisimchazevit@gmail.com if you can help us out in one of those two ways.
  • Make a poster or sign of some kind to hold up during services, expressing your wishes for everyone for the year ahead.
  • You’ll soon be receiving an email asking you to sign up for focus groups for the Havurah’s Visioning Project – please participate – YOU are the voice of our community. 
  • If you are someone who has considered joining us as a member, now is the time! We welcome you!