High Holidays During the Covid-19 Pandemic

New Year & New Online Platform

Rabbi’s Message – September 15, 2020

Rabbi Karen Bodney-Halasz

For the last few months we have all been wondering what High Holidays would look like in a pandemic.  A lot of dreaming and hard work since the spring have culminated into an immersive holiday experience.  And I’m excited to unveil the fruits of our labor – today!  

I realize that nothing can substitute for in-person services.  Nothing beats the real thing.  Yet we hope you will come away with a sense of renewal and even satisfaction for having navigated what it means to engage in this ancient ritual in 2020.  We hope to provide you with the most accessible, reliable, and spiritually uplifting opportunities to share our familiar and iconic Temple Israel High Holiday moments together. 

Our High Holidays will be hosted at http://services.tidayton.org, a custom page accessible from our Temple Israel website.  It is just like walking in our front doors and taking your seat.  The page is essentially your virtual Great Hall, complete with shout outs from some of your favorite ushers and familiar faces!

Once you enter, everything else will be taken care of for you.  Are you missing a prayer book?  No problem, just click on the red link next to that service.  Need to join a Zoom room for Children’s Services?  Just click the children’s services tab and explore your options.

All of our regular services will be live streamed.  This means that at 7:30 p.m. this Friday, you will simply need to go to the website and click the PLAY button on the image in front of you.  If you have any trouble, we have an online technician ready to answer your questions.  You will also be able to access all types of supplemental resources, including a beautiful Rosh Hashanah Seder crafted by Judy Heller and Rita Dushman Rich.  We will continue to add service highlights, extra worship opportunities, and supplemental materials that you can access on demand.  

Feel free to cater your experience to your own needs.  If you prefer to pray from the comfort of your living room, take a moment to learn how to “cast” the webpage onto your Smart TV.  If you wish to be surrounded by the voices and faces of your friends and loved ones, start your own Zoom room to simultaneously participate in services.  You can even do it with out of town friends and family!  Now is the time to start preparing for Friday if you haven’t already.  Check out the webpage, buy your fruits and vegetables for a Rosh Hashanah Seder, and make sure your loved ones know how to participate with you.  

I look forward to wishing all of you a happy New Year on Thursday and Friday for our Rosh Hashanah Drive Thru Experience! 

Shanah Tovah.

Rabbi’s Message 6-9-20

Evolving Together

A Message from Rabbi Bodney-Halasz

June 9, 2020

Change is always hard.  It’s even harder when it happens quickly, without warning, and without even a glimpse of what a new normal might look like.  This was March 2020, from a year that practically promised us clarity of vision. 
 
When this began, our focus was on meeting the most pressing of our needs:  reciting Mi Shebeirach and Kaddish “together,” providing pastoral care, celebrating Passover as a community, and continuing ongoing education classes. 
 
As the situation evolved, we, too, have evolved. We brought new opportunities for learning, spotlights of hope, resources for support, and original prayers for new experiences.  We used Zoom to boost virtual gatherings and one-on-one conversations and began researching new technology to move us forward.
 
This has been a hard road to navigate, but we finally have a clearer view of what the immediate future might look like.  We have learned about Covid-19 in religious institutions and the impact it has on worship experiences.  There is a lot happening in the world to process and we process it better together.  It is clear that increased virtual interactions will be key to moving forward as a community in isolation.  
 
Many of you have told us you miss praying together on Shabbat.  We have missed you too and are anxious to see your faces and be together again.  This Friday, we will finally go live for our evening Shabbat worship services.   I hope you will join us, as your presence will allow Shabbat to be even more meaningful for us all.