High Holy Days
Description of High Holiday Services at Ohev Sholom
Parents and Children
We encourage our parents to be sure to discuss synagogue decorum with their children. The age group determinations are to insure that all children receive the best possible attention during the holidays and that all of us are able to enjoy this contemplative time. A library cart with children’s books will be stationed outside the sanctuary. Please feel free to borrow a few books to take to your seat for your children to look through during their time in the sanctuary. We only ask that they be returned to the cart as you are leaving.
Youth services for children aged five years through sixth grade will begin at 11:00 am on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and will last approximately 1½ hours. At that time, please plan on meeting your child to accompany you into the main services. In order for all to contemplate and celebrate during the High Holidays, we ask for your cooperation.
Child Care During The Holidays
Childcare will be provided for children four years of age and younger on both days of Rosh Hashanah, Kol Nidre and Yom Kippur. We encourage you to use this complimentary service provided by the synagogue. Parents with children in childcare please understand that the size of the room is small. Unless your child is having a difficult time, we ask that you remain outside the room. The baby-sitting room is for 4-year-olds and younger. Space limitations make it imperative that parents and children alike respect this. Please bring along any items you would normally supply a caregiver. To insure your belongings make it home again, be sure to label all items with your child’s name.
Snacks & Lunches For The Children
Sisterhood will serve snacks to children up to 13 years of age during services on both the first and second day of Rosh Hashanah. These snacks will include apples and honey, cookies and juice.
A light lunch will be served during Yom Kippur services. If your child is still on a bottle or baby food, we ask that you plan to take a break from services to meet your child’s feeding schedule. Please call our office if you have any questions.
A Few Reminders About Tickets
High Holiday tickets will go to all of our regular members. Free High Holiday tickets are available to individuals and families new to the Kansas City area, college students and members of the military. We offer this complimentary arrangement for one year. Please contact our office for more information.
If you will be out of town for the holidays, please contact the synagogue office for a letter of introduction and statement of good standing in our congregation. As is the practice in our own synagogue, many congregations offer tickets to out-of-towners with a letter of introduction. For out-of-town family and friends that are unaffiliated, we ask a modest contribution of $100 per ticket.
Our Associate members are invited for the second day of Rosh Hashanah. We love to see a sanctuary full of faces both new and familiar.
Attire: Tallit, Kittel and Tennis Shoes
The High Holidays provide an ideal time for trying out and incorporating new rituals into your own personal practice of Judaism. Consider, for example, the holiday kittel for Yom Kippur. A simple white garment with collar and sash, it is intended to be worn as a ritual over-garment. It expresses a hope for purity in thought and deed, and democratizes the experience of worship in a community.
The kittel effectively obliterates differences in dress and self-adornment and symbolically creates a community of equals. While not currently available in our gift shop, orders can be placed any time.
A second possibility is a new holiday tallit. The tallitot available outside the sanctuary are of a kind popularized in post-war Jewish life. Much older in style, and significantly more evocative of ancient patterns, are the large wool tallitot worn by some members of the congregation. There is nothing quite like the enveloping drape of a traditional wool ceremonial garment. Stop by the synagogue gift shop for a look at the possibilities.
A final consideration in the area of ritually appropriate clothing. Yom Kippur has a special “look.” In order to distinguish it from other days, the Rabbis prohibited certain articles of clothing which connoted luxury or self-indulgence. The classic case is leather shoes. Since they were typically the most costly item in a wardrobe, they were crossed from the list of permitted clothing.
Furthermore, on a day when we consider issues of life and death, it is not considered appropriate to wear leather, which requires the taking of a life. Members aware of this prohibition frequently come to synagogue beginning with Kol Nidre in simple, inexpensive cloth or rubber shoes. Any such shoe will satisfy the tradition. Tennis shoes are probably the best example. If you’d like to observe Yom Kippur this way, please don’t feel self-conscious about your decision. An increasing number of our members are choosing this expression of humility and simplicity.
Portions of this section were originally excerpted from “The Messenger,”B’nai Emunah Synagogue.
“This is my chosen fast… Share your bread with the hungry, take the homeless into your home, clothe the naked when you see him, do not turn away from people in need.”
In the spirit of these words from Isaiah which we read on Yom Kippur morning, let us again help the hungry. We call on our congregation to embrace Isaiah’s message and to enact his words, by sharing our material bounty through contributing to our community’s food drives. Prior to the High Holidays we will be collecting non-perishable food items, toiletries, and paper supplies to contribute to the Jewish Family Service Food Pantry. During the High Holidays we will be collecting peanut butter for the “Peanut Butter for Prairie Village” food drive.
Each year we provide home hospitality for new members of our community and students. If you would enjoy having a guest at a holiday meal, please call the synagogue at 913-642-6460 or contact our office online. We are compiling a list of interested families whom we can contact as needed.
Observance of Rosh Hashanah
We call to the attention of both adults and youngsters the importance of observing both days of Rosh Hashanah. From the point of view of our religious law and tradition, the second day is as sacred and important as the first and should be observed with equal respect and reverence. We especially urge our youngsters to attend Junior Congregation Services planned for them.
On Rosh Hashanah
Rosh Hashanah begins the period known as Aseret Y’mei Teshuvah, the ten days of penitence, ending with Yom Kippur. Unlike the New Year festivals of other people, the Jewish New Year is greeted with the emphasis on prayer and self-examination.
Our Yamin Noraim (Days of Awe) concerns us primarily as individuals rather than simply as part of the Jewish people. The sound of the shofar is a call to us to awaken, to change our lives, to find a place for God in our hearts. We symbolically express a wish for a sweet year of happiness and fulfillment by dipping apples into honey at our Rosh Hashanah meals.
It is also customary to have a round challah for the Rosh Hashanah meals, emphasizing both the crown of God’s kingship and also our prayers for a round, full year.
Many prayer books do not contain the daytime Rosh Hashanah Kiddush recited before luncheon after returning home from the synagogue. We are furnishing this text for your information.
Tik’u va-chodesh shofar, ba-keseh l’yom chageinu Kee chok l’Yisrael hu, mishpat l’Elohei Ya’akov.
Barukh Atah Ad-nai, Eloheinu Melekh Ha-olam, borei p’ri ha-gafen.
Rosh Hashanah is a chance for us to begin anew. Tashlich, observed prior to Mincha on the first day Rosh Hashanah, gives us the opportunity to symbolically experience renewal. We throw bread crumbs into flowing water and as we watch the crumbs disappear, we ask that our sins also be “washed away,” never to return. The ceremony is short and the prayers are accessible to all, so let this year be the one for tossing bread crumbs and experiencing renewal.
Yom Kippur Eve at Home
Yom Kippur is the one religious occasion which is observed entirely in the synagogue and yet the meal which precedes this fast (Yom Kippur Eve) is intended to be a spiritual experience for the entire family. This meal is eaten early so that the family can be in the synagogue before sundown. Following the Birkat ha-Mazon (Grace After Meals), holiday candles are lit and blessings are recited.
Memorial Lamps and Blessing the Children
It is customary to light a memorial lamp for departed family members. The memorial lamps must be lit before the holiday candles are lit. Blessing your children by placing your hands on the head of each one is a beautiful tradition to practice before leaving for the synagogue for Kol Nidre.
This is the time members of the family ask each other for forgiveness for the wrongs or the hurts they have done, knowingly or unknowingly during the year.
Although children are not obliged to fast until they are 13, it is appropriate that the fast be observed in part or in full at an earlier age.
Self-denial in food and other physical pleasure is part of the tradition of this “Sabbath of Sabbaths.” Refraining from meals as well as work helps in the self-discipline of heart and mind, and prepares us to face our Creator in prayer and repentance. When a person is ill, however, a physician should be consulted about fasting.
It’s important to remind ourselves that the traditional synagogue practices a version of radical equality; whatever takes place is intended to involve us all. It does not belong solely to those who have been commissioned to officiate.
Kneeling during services is a good example of this general principle. During the Musaf service on each day of the High Holidays, the congregation chants Aleinu as an acknowledgment of God’s authority. The Musaf service was the original setting for Aleinu; it was appropriated from this context and made part of the conclusion of every service because of its unique persuasiveness as an expression of Jewish faith.
The High Holidays are different, however, because of the way Aleinu is chanted. It would be typical for traditional Jews to kneel at this point in the service to demonstrate the uniqueness of our relationship with God. To no other entity do we bow or incline. Only God has ultimate authority in the historical experience of the Jewish people.
The typical pattern is to do so just as the words of Aleinu suggest. At the word “korim” we drop to our knees. We touch our foreheads to the floor at “u-mishtachavim u-modim.” Immediately afterwards, we return to our feet.
It would be difficult for a first-timer not to feel somewhat self-conscious about all of this, but Aleinu brings an opportunity to involve our physical selves in prayer.
Please know that you are welcome to join our Hazzan as well as others from the congregation, in this practice and to experiment with the choreography of Jewish spirituality. Simply move into one of the aisles in the sanctuary and participate as described above. It’s the right time in American Jewish history to continue to break the frame of “decorum” and welcome the experience of new/old forms of Jewish observance.
The autumn festival of Sukkot, commemorating the protection afforded the Israelites through their wanderings in the wilderness, is described in the Torah as the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the agricultural year (Exodus 23:16). In celebrating the seven days of Sukkot, we read: “You shall dwell in booths seven days…that your generations may know that I made the Israelites dwell in booths…” (Leviticus 23:42-43).
According to Maimonides, the moral lesson of the festival of Sukkot is that man ought to remember his bad times in his days of prosperity. Hence we leave our elegant homes to dwell in booths that are reminiscent of desert life, lacking in all conveniences and comfort.
This year we offer a light meal with study and discussion in the Sukkah on Tuesday night, September 25 with Stefan Offenbach and midday Wednesday, 26 at 11:30 a.m. with Rabbi White. Watch for details in future publicity.
The frail sukkah, which must not exceed the height of 30 feet, is said to convey the idea that man should never be haughty. The walls of the sukkah must be sufficiently strong to withstand ordinary gusts of wind.
The shade, which is the root meaning of the word sukkah, must exceed the rays of the sun. This signifies that man is to be steadfast in his beliefs and humble in his behavior. The stars must be visible through the s’khakh (roof covering) of twigs and leaves as a constant reminder that all blessings reach from our Heavenly Creator.
All kinds of plans, kits and improvisation are available for building your own sukkah. From PVC pipes to metal poles, the possibilities are endless. Canvas, sheets, quilts, rattan shades – any fabric sturdy enough to withstand a bit of wind will do for the walls. Get the whole family involved and let this be the year you grace your backyard with a modest, temporary dwelling place. Fulfill the mitzvah leyshev ba-sukkah (to dwell in the sukkah). If you think this is the year to begin, but you are not sure how to start, call the synagogue office at 913-642-6460 or contact our office online. We can get you started in the right direction.
Lulav and Etrog
The four species, of which the lulav (palm branch) is the most prominent, are a symbolic expression of our rejoicing over the change from life in the wilderness to life in a country replete with fruit trees and rivers. These particular four species: lulav, etrog, hadassim (myrtle) and aravot (willow) were plentiful in Eretz Yisrael, and were readily obtainable by everybody.
This year consider a hands-on Sukkot experience by ordering your own lulav and etrog. Bring the fragrant smell of the citron and lulav palm, myrtle and willow fronds into your own home. Add the mitzvah of “taking the lulav in hand” to your growing list. The mitzvah can be performed in your home or in the synagogue and instruction is readily available. You can order your lulav and etrog through the Ohev Office. Read more about how to order.