Jewish Dopers, how to plan to observe the High Holidays this year?

My local Reform congregation is going totally online for the whole thing, except a socially-distanced Tashlich in a local park with a lake. It’s going to be really weird, even weirder for me as I’m a household of one with no bubble and no family anywhere. I’ve been zooming into the Shabbat service on Friday nights-- also weird, but with an odd intimacy since the rabbi’s face is right there in your face… and you see all the other Hollywood Squares (or is it The Brady Bunch?) lined up on your screen. I’ve gotten kind of used to that.

But sitting in front of the computer all day on Yom Kippur? Can’t picture that yet. What are your plans?

The NYTimes had an article yesterday on the subject (sorry, no doubt paywalled):

See if this link to the same article works (it’s saved in Pocket).

Background info on the subject for Enquiring Minds:

I don’t know and I’m feeling really down about it. Last year was the first year we were away from our kids and living in a new town that we had just moved to. Plus my spouse ended up traveling for work over RH, so I was on my own.

I managed to put together a nice Zoom Seder.

I just don’t think I can do another lackluster, lonely, remote holiday and I’m feeling really, really, down about it.

:cry: :hugs:

I hear that.

My shul is doing zoom services too.

I may tune in for RH, but definitely not for YK. I’m just going to observe that by myself (well, with immediate family, but I doubt I’ll get them to prey much). We have a shofar, at least. The fast will be harder without services all day to distract me, but I think I’ll make it. This will be my 40th fast. There have been a few I didn’t make it through because of blood sugar problems, and one that was really difficult because I was taking an antibiotic, and had to eat just a little bit with it-- that turned out to be worse than eating nothing at all.

This will be the boychik’s first fast. If he doesn’t make it, I’m not going to say anything.

PS: I’m so glad we had a big Purim blow-out last March right before this all happened. Drawing on that memory has made the intervening holidays a little easier.

But wow, I’m sure this won’t be over by next Purim. That is going to make me very sad. No megillah reading and pinball tournament.

Freudian slip…? :wink:

I haven’t been in a synagogue since I don’t know when. However, for some reason neither of us quite understands my wife and I will fast on Yom Kippur and she will read a prayer book.

BTW, fasting gets easier the older you get.

Remote, I guess? I often take the High Holidays off work as a quiet day to myself without attending services, so no big deal. But I always hit Erev Yom Kippur because we have a husband/wife duo who play Kol Nidre on cello. It’s haunting and perfect and I’m pretty sure listening to it on a bootleg virtual service will just upset me.

Not Jewish, but I do keep the High Holidays. Services will be held at the normal place and time, just with no food, social distancing and masks. We normally travel out of town for Sukkot, but are keeping it locally this year.

Our Reform congregation is doing the same as @ThelmaLou. My youngest is becoming Bat Mitzvah in June, so it’s her last year as a kid.

I’m not sure how much Zoom prayer we can take. My wife will really miss being in synagogue for Kol Nidre, it’s actually her favourite service. There is usually a cellist at the beginning.

We had discussed an outdoor Rosh Hashana dinner or lunch with the family, but my kids start back at school this week and my dad is in the hospital for at least a few weeks if he gets through his current health crisis. It’s just not worth the risk.

I have all the books (and a plastic shofar) and am used to doing the High Holy Day services at home. Most of the past decade, I’ve been too broke to afford HHD tickets. Plus, none of the local synagogues is quite the right fit for me. The only congregation I really fit in with was at Isabella Friedman- bunch of very observant Jewish hippies. Sadly, camp Isabella Friedman is only for two weeks a year and in Connecticut.

I’ll probably log on to the Zoom service of Beitenu for Rosh Hoshannah. It’s a travelling congregation and I know the rabbi (Rabbi Howard Cove- a real mensch!) from way back. Tuning in on my laptop on the Day Of Atonement just doesn’t feel right to me.

NOTE- I am in no way financially connected to Beiteinu, nor do I hold any position in it. It’s just that Rabbi Cove is such a great guy. The last time I went to a service with him in realspace, he asked if I needed a ride home. I was explaining that I lived at least an hour away. He politely interrupted to say that I hadn’t answered the question and that regardless of distance, if I needed a ride he would be happy to provide it. Like I said, a real mensch.

Friday night and Saturday morning I “attended” a zoom Bar Mitzvah. The Bar Mitzvah boy and his family were in their living room, as were the rabbis and everyone else (in their own living rooms, that is). It was weird. Less stressful for him, I imagine, than doing it in front of a packed house. But then no big celebration afterwards either.

My older daughter had a Saturday morning Bat Mitzvah, followed by a luncheon at a restaurant and a kids party. With my younger one, she will be either full in person, just the family and either rabbi or cantor in shul with everything else Zoom, or at home by ourselves with Zoom. Who knows at this point?

We have not booked a restaurant since we don’t know if restaurants will be open or even in business in June.

IANJ nor is my family, bet we celebrate several of the high holidays with our Jewish friends. We will celebrate Rosh Hashanah this coming Saturday evening with them.

L’shanah tovah, Dopers! Pleasepleaseplease let next year at this time find us over the hump, COVID-wise-speaking!

I read an article yesterday about this dilemma in the Washington Post:

Most Orthodox congregations, however, because our understanding of religious law prohibits the use of electronics on the Sabbath and holidays, will be holding significantly shortened indoor and outdoor services, with both masks and social distancing strictly enforced. Some Conservative congregations will be doing so, as well, though their movement is allowing online prayer quorums during the “crisis situation.”

While rabbis are taking myriad precautions to prepare for the High Holidays, Gary Slutkin, a physician and epidemiologist formerly with the World Health Organization, told me that he sees “no legitimate reason for any in-person service … you cannot protect yourself enough.”

The Orthodox Jewish community, especially in New York and New Jersey, was hit early and hard by the coronavirus. After months of watching my community suffer, I wish those considering coming together this holiday season — particularly indoors — would learn from our tragedies and avoid repeating our mistakes.

And thanks to warnings to restrict Passover Seders to immediate households only, we mostly managed to keep Passover, in early April, from spreading the virus the way Purim had.

But now it’s months later. And unlike Passover, which centers on home-based Seders, the High Holidays are built around communal worship.

Yet as hard as it may be to limit coming together, the Jewish community can’t allow the massive spread of covid-19 to become the legacy of this holiday season.

My bold.

Saving a life is the highest value, and any law can be broken to save a life, including the rule about electricity on Shabbat and holidays. This situation seems to me to fit that principle perfectly.

You’re risking contracting and spreading the virus to celebrate a holiday in a religion that you don’t belong to? Will you be masked? Outdoors? Or are you Zooming??

The same way we’ve done for years:

  1. Completely forget about them until the day before/after.
  2. Oh, well. We’ll try to remember and do something next year… ‘In Yerushalayim’
  3. Order Thai food.

That’s not how it works. If there is actually a significant risk to life, one would simply not attend services. A desire to attend communal prayer services does not justify violating the prohibitions of the Sabbath or Holiday.

Personally, I will attend a small prayer service outdoors with 10 people present. I do understand that most Dopers fall on the most coronavirus risk averse end of the spectrum, but frankly I find Slutkin’s statement kind of offensive. This region has had a slight rise in coronavirus since the peak in April, but it’s been flat for the past few months. Every day for the past 3 months I drive home from the hospital I work at, where the coronavirus census has decreased from triple to single digits, and I see sidewalk restaurants and bars filled with young people hanging out… But Slutkin is of the opinion that there’s no legitimate reason for any in person prayer service and you can’t protect yourself enough. He’s welcome to his opinion, but there is at least as much of a legitimate reason for it as for any other human communal activity, and in my humble opinion holding it outdoors, in small numbers, and widely distanced is more than enough protection.

This is why Jews will never have (or need) a Pope.

This strikes me as more than a mere “desire” not to attend a communal, in-person service. It’s the idea that you might be putting your life in danger or you might be putting other people’s lives in danger. That could be a prudent decision-- a desire not to “play the odds” and hope for the best. And of course, each person or household can decide for themselves.

It’s similar to people’s desire to have an absentee ballot rather than risk going to the polls in person. In Texas if you’re under 65, that’s not a good enough reason to be allowed to vote by mail. Even though long lines at the polls could turn out to be a superspreader event.

But the synagogue leadership has a responsibility to make administrative decisions with the general health of the congregation in mind. The fact that bars and restaurants are packed with young people is not relevant to the decision about attending or holding in-person services.

Zoom services suck large duck eggs, no question about it. So do Zoom book club, and Zoom classes. But as a 71-year old who has had breast cancer, I am protecting myself and other people as much as I can. My shul has gone full-out Zoom, except for Tashlich, which will be outdoors in a park with lots of distancing.