Sign In Forgot Password

September 2019 Rabbi Shafrin's Article

Turning Over a New Leaf

As we move through the month of Elul and into the High Holiday season and the New Jewish year of 5780, it’s worth taking a moment to appreciate how many incredible things we have been able to mark as a community. New members have joined our community and entered our world. We have stood up for one another, and for people around the world, when they were vulnerable. We have come together to celebrate our greatest joys and comfort one another in our darkest hours.

Each new year brings us new oppor-tunities. Together, as a community, we will soon be moving into our new home at 7701 Maryland Avenue. Thanks to the hard work of our Facilities committee members, our fundraisers, our Board and synagogue leadership, as well as our architects, construction crew, and so many others, we will be able to come together in a new, modern space that has enough room to help us grow far into the future. It is an incredibly exciting time, and could not have been possible without all of you who have volunteered, donated to the capital campaign, shared your excitement about the project, and helped push this community forward.

It feels incredibly meaningful to be preparing for this singular opportunity alongside some of our most sacred holidays. And as we prepare for this physical move to a new building, we want to have our spiritual experiences throughout these holidays reflect the joy, significance, connections, history, and passion that we all bring with us.

Last year during Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, we added some new options to our High Holiday worship. We listened and learned from your feedback and were so thrilled to hear about some of your experiences. Because of that feedback, we are planning, for much of the time, to have two services running simultaneously throughout the Days of Awe (we’ll be together for the Torah service each day, as well as Musaf, Mincha and Neilah on Yom Kippur).

The upstairs service will be a full, traditional service, covering the entire machzor (High Holiday prayer book), and will not have musical instruments.  This service will delve deeply into the familiar sounds, words, and melodies of the High Holidays, focusing on the customary form of worship for each holiday service, while at the same time creating space for your own words, intentions, and spiritual moments.

The downstairs service will use the same machzor, but will have musical instruments (guitar, piano, and gentle percussion), and will move intentionally through certain prayers, readings, and melodies with an eye to bringing all of our voices together to create new spiritual expression. In that service, we will not cover every single word of the machzor, even though both services will aim to finish at the same time.

Both of these services are designed to create thoughtful and insightful worship experiences, along with crafting new bonds between people and giving each person their access to these incredible holidays. We hope that you will be able to find both a comfortable spot to pray, learn, talk, sing, and reflect, as well as a new experience for a new year.

We will also be planning to hold a host of learning experiences, family activities, and spiritual spaces for community members, friends, and guests of all ages. Whether you know these holidays, their customs, and their prayer services like the back of your hand or this will be your first time with us, our goal is to bring everyone together to begin our year with joy, reflection, community-building, and warmth. We hope that you will join us during these High Holidays and that you will be able to have a genuine encounter with your neighbors, your community, your family, your friends, and your innermost selves. We hope that whichever services and experiences you take part in during these holidays, you will come away having looked deeply at yourself, discovered moments of genuine spiritual joy, sung with gusto, clapped with passion, and connected with the people around you.

May we all be inscribed and sealed this year in the Book of Life.

Sat, August 15 2020 25 Av 5780