High Holidays at Home

September 14, 2020

Dear TBS Friends and Family,

This year our High Holidays at TBS will be different. Most of us will be celebrating these important days from our own homes. How can we transform our homes and our families to make this time special, holy, and meaningful? Below is a number of suggestions that we can use to beautify our spaces and feel like we have a chance to truly inhabit the sacredness of these times.

Wear Something Special

  • Dress up: Many of us have been living in sweats and t-shirts. Let’s dress up and feel like we look our best!
  • Some wear white: It’s traditional to wear white, the color of holiness for the High Holidays.
  • Buy a new article of clothing: As we enter the new year, just like we bought our kids new school clothes, we can find something new to wear as well.
  • Kippah & Tallit: Experiment with Jewish prayer garb. It can make it feel like we are at TBS.

Beautify Your Home

  • Think about your spaces: Where will you put your laptop, or pc, or phone, or TV? Can you place some items nearby that speak to you: flowers, pictures, candlesticks, kiddush cups?
  • Buy two holiday bouquets of flowers: One for your dinner table and one for your special space.
  • Clean up beforehand: We are calmer, happier when we are in tidy settings.
  • Bring out the china: If you have fancy dinnerware, now’s the time to use it.
  • Use tablecloths: to dress the table and your space.

Enjoy Special Festival Foods

  • Prepare a feast: For those of us raised with rich family traditions, there’s special foods that mark the holidays. If you can’t prep themselves, can you buy them from someone? (i.e. Every year, I make a special trip to Trader Joe’s to buy a chocolate babka.)
  • Try something new: There’s a Sephardi tradition to say a blessing over new foods like exotic, rare fruits.

Do the Rituals in Your Home

  • Light the Holiday/Shabbat Candles with us
  • Find a lovely Kiddush cup
  • Buy or bake a round challah, with or without raisins: the symbol of returning and the cycle of the year. (Whole Foods and BJs are loaded.)
  • Eat Apples and Honey
  • Sing together at services: Try to sing with us even when you are on mute. I notice when Rachel sings with me during Zoom services I feel like I am in a group. We sing out loud together even when we are on mute.
  • Try using a prayer book instead of a screen: this helps limit Zoom fatigue.

Journal Writing

  • Free Writing: Find some time during the 10 days from Rosh to Hashanah to Yom Kippur. I will be giving us special writing prompts at our Friday Erev Rosh Hashanah Service.

Get Outside With Your Family

  • Find a local body of water: stream, creek, pond or lake to toss some breadcrumbs and let go of different actions that you don’t want to repeat. It can be a special family time. This ritual can be done anytime between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
  • Visit the Cemetery: there’s a tradition to visit our family members during this season.
  • Go on a hike or walk: Many of us find renewal and connection in nature. Nourish yourself this year.
Shanah tovah umetukah, blessings for a sweet, healthy New Year!
Rabbi Michael, Rabbi Rachel, Gabriel