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As the High Holidays approach, we are finalizing our plans for davening together as a kehilla. As you can imagine, creating the best possible plan has been extremely challenging. There is a lot to be balanced: the logistical constraints of COVID, meeting the essential values of community, inclusion and safety, while also managing financial pressures for members and the shul. How do we best keep everyone healthy, be inclusive, create a meaningful communal experience, be financially sensitive to families, and fiscally responsible for the shul? With the wonderful news of the imminent beginning of construction at 20 Greenridge, finding enough outdoor space to host services was an additional challenge.

Fortunately, Congregation Kol Ami has welcomed us to use their large parking lot area for outdoor High Holiday services. That is wonderful, because it is a large space where we can accommodate 200 people in 4 cohorts of 50 people each (the largest gathering allowed by the governor's guidelines). In addition, we have commitments from two families to hold services in their backyards.  

While it is a significant cost to acquire tents and cleaning crews for these outdoor services, we made the decision to not impose any seat charges for members and their children under age 26. Members will be asked only for voluntary donations for their children. Seat charges will be limited to out-of-town guests (including adult children). If you can, we hope you will consider helping us cover this year's extraordinary expenses. Please click here to submit your donation or to pay for visiting guests.

Sign-ups for Rosh Hashana are now closed, as we are at capacity in all of our minyanim.  If you would like to attend Rosh Hashana services and did not sign up, please contact the office to be added to the wait list.  If you did sign up, you will be notified of your minyan assignment in the next few days.  Remember, you can ONLY attend the minyan to which you are assigned.

Yom Kippur details are currently being finalized.  Those details, and the Yom Kippur sign up form, will be distributed in the very near future.

Here is the plan for Rosh Hashana as it stands today:

  • Services are expected to run around 2.5 to 3 hours.
  • In keeping with NYS guidelines, all seats will be 6 feet apart and all participants will be required to wear masks when entering and exiting the area, and during the entire service.
  • We will have 4 minyanim under canopies in the Kol Ami parking lots; 2 early minyanim (around 7:30am) and 2 later minyanim (around 10:15am). We hope this will allow parents of young children who both want to attend to share child care responsibilities.
  • We will have an adult-only outdoor minyan around 9am under a canopy in a backyard near 20 Greenridge for those who cannot easily walk to Kol Ami or are concerned about exposure to school-age children.
  • We will have a second backyard minyan around 9am at another backyard in the Highlands.
  • We will have shofar blowing at multiple outdoor locations on Sunday for those who are not able to attend services.
  • We are also exploring having a Mussaf-only service if there is sufficient interest.
  • Children who are able to sit with their parents for the entire service are welcome at our services. For children who cannot sit in shul, we are inviting parents to tag-team childcare at home, with one parent coming to an earlier minyan and the second coming to a later minyan. The youth committee is also working to see if we might also be able to run a short program for our youth (more info to follow).

Thank you and we look forward to ushering in the New Year together!


Sat, September 19 2020 1 Tishrei 5781