Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur 5781/2020 at EHRS

The High Holy Days for EHRS is an extraordinary celebration of community as well as being a spiritually transformative time for every individual in our congregation. Most years close to two thousand members come onto our Stonegrove site at the same time. This year, as we continue to cope responsibly and caringly with the Covid-19 pandemic, we will have to prioritise the highest Jewish value, pikuach nefesh, the preservation of life and adapt our High Holy Days experience accordingly. In the Talmud Yoma 83a our Rabbis tell us directly that this is what we must do as they consider a case where a building has collapsed near a Synagogue on Yom Kippur. They rule that the services must end immediately and all go out to help save anyone still living as long as there is still breath in their body.

The EHRS Council has made the decision that there is no responsible way to run our High Holidays with all of us present on the Stonegrove site this year without the danger of the virus spreading. Also they know that it would be invidious to select some members to attend whilst all others are asked to stay away, in order to achieve social distancing. We could not come in to the site to pray by rota, as an alternative, due to the deep cleaning time between groups that would be necessary. 

Therefore, we have made the decision to create the very best on-line experience that we can of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the days leading up and the days in between. We will invest in our livestream and production to run choices of prayer and learning for all generations and inclinations including services in the best musical and prayer traditions of EHRS. We will work out ways to help those who do not possess or find it difficult to use technology to be fully involved. We will put together a brochure to make it clear what is on offer well before the days themselves. We will find ways to connect with each other as a community even though on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur we are in our homes.

Please feel most welcome to contact any of our Rabbis our High Holy Days Co-ordinator, Michael Weber or our Chairman, Janet Brand, if you would like to know more or to share your ideas as we develop what will be the most extraordinary and, we aim, spiritually fulfilling High Holy Days of 5781. 

Rabbi Mark Goldsmith
Michael Weber
Janet Brand (EHRS Chairman)