July 2015 – Message From Rabbi Arnow

Renewing the High Holidays

I am so excited for High Holidays at Kol Rinah this year! Kol Rinah will be the place to be this High Holiday season. And by the end of this article, you’ll understand why!

High Holiday Leadership

First of all, as we bid a very bittersweet farewell to my friend and mentor, Rabbi Mark Fasman, I am excited to announce that Rabbi Micah Buck-Yael and Rabbi Tracy Nathan will be joining me on the bima this year. Again, I’ll be doing much of the davening, or “singing,” and Rabbi Buck-Yael, Rabbi Nathan and I will be sharing the “rabbi-ing” responsibilities. All three of us will be giving sermons, teaching and speaking over the course of the holidays.

Rabbi Buck-Yael, a member of our community for many years now, was ordained a year ago by the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, and has been working this year as a Community Chaplain for Jewish Family & Children’s Service in St. Louis. Rabbi Nathan teaches at the Saul Mirowitz Jewish Community School and tutors our upcoming b’nai mitzvah students here at Kol Rinah. She will also begin serving as a Community Chaplain with Jewish Family & Children’s Services this summer. Prior to moving to St. Louis, she served as Rabbi of Temple Beth Israel in Waltham, MA.

We want the High Holidays this year to be uplifting, emotionally powerful, community-building, and crisp, with diverse options and multiple entry points, and to inaugurate our exploration of the theme of community. To that end, we’ll be introducing some innovations in the sanctuary service, and we’ll be having many engaging experiences that will be parallel and in addition to the sanctuary service over the course of the holidays. As usual, we’ll have a full complement of excellent, thoughtful programming for kids of all ages, from tots to teens. Much of the focus of the innovations and teaching will center around the idea of community.

No Tickets Necessary

There is one other big change afoot: we’re expecting conversations like the following in the weeks leading up to Rosh Hashanah:

“Shalom, Kol Rinah, this is Nancy1. How can I help you?”

“Hi Nancy, it’s [insert name]. I’m just calling because I haven’t received my High Holiday tickets yet.”

Why are we anticipating these phone calls? It’s not because we will be withholding anyone’s tickets. On the contrary! Kol Rinah is experimenting with something new this High Holiday season—no tickets! Anyone who wants to join us for the High Holidays can come, member, or non-member. You won’t need to show a ticket to gain entrance. And so we won’t be sending tickets to you—or anyone.

We will be asking for RSVP’s so that we can prepare appropriately for attendees and have nametags prepared for everyone who tells us they’re coming. We’ll require RSVP’s for children so we can plan for them appropriately. And for non-members, we’ll suggest a recommended donation of $180. Seating will be open, just as it has been in past years.

Why are we engaging in this experiment? It’s very simple. We believe that Kol Rinah should be about opening doors rather than guarding them, about welcoming everyone rather than being “members only.” Not only is this mindset more appropriate to the realities of 21st century life, but it’s the Jewish way to be, as the prophet Isaiah (and our Scholar-in-Residence this past February Rabbi Brad Artson) proclaims, “My House shall be called a house of prayer for all people” (Is. 56:7).

It might feel a bit more crowded this year than in the past, but the fact is, we had a lot of empty seats last year. Practically speaking, we are, of course, concerned with security, and we will be communicating with you in the coming weeks about how we’ll be handling security a little differently this year.

When you talk to your friends and your family about Kol Rinah in the weeks leading up to the High Holidays, I hope you will share my excitement and anticipation for the Days of Awe this year—because they are going to be a powerful, inspiring, and joyful experience. Be there, and share your voice!