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High Holy Days 2021


L’Shanah Tovah!!

I am thrilled to be joining with you to celebrate 5782! Our gatherings this year will be filled with joy and hope, song, and smiles. So much is new and exciting at Temple Sinai, and so much remains the treasured gem we all love.

Coming out of the pandemic, the holidays will be a wonderful opportunity to reconnect and recharge. Each of us has felt the stresses and challenges of lockdowns and more, and all of us will be strengthened by coming together as a community.

Our tradition teaches us that Teshuva, Tefila, and Tzedakah—repentance, prayer, and righteous charity will lead us forward in strength. Each of those values will be present as we welcome the New Year at Temple Sinai.

We will join together in accounting for ourselves over the past year—noting both the moments of challenge and the moments of success. We will support each other as we acknowledge all that we have been during the year just ending.

Our voices will rise in prayer together. We will sing and be inspired with Cantor Marshall Portnoy, and we will be strengthened by messages from 
our rabbis. 

And we will see that in acts of Tzedakah, righteous giving, we make ourselves and our world more whole. Our gifts remind us of our connections to each other as we renew our bonds.

Join us—online or in person, and together we will continue the work of creation, filling all of us with wholeness and holiness.

(Photo (left to right): Rabbi Keren Gorban & Rabbi Daniel Fellman (Photo credit: Dale Lazar)



High Holy Day Services Schedule

Saturday, August 28    

7:30 PM The Magic Is In the Music: An Examination of our High Holy Day Musical Traditions with Cantor Marshall Portnoy followed by the S’lichot Service

Sunday, August 29

Noon Service of Remembrance with Temple David at Temple Sinai Memorial Park (7740 Saltsburg Road, Plum, PA 15239)

Monday, September 6 (Labor Day)  
5 PM Erev Rosh HaShanah Tot Service*
7:45 PM Erev Rosh HaShanah Service with sermon from Rabbi Keren Gorban* 

Tuesday, September 7                    
8 AM Rosh HaShanah Tot Service*            
8:45 AM Rosh HaShanah Morning Intergenerational Family Service     
10:45 AM Rosh HaShanah Morning Service with sermon from Rabbi Daniel Fellman            
5 PM Tashlich Service at Frick Park (Cards of Admission not required.)    

Wednesday, September 8
10 AM Rosh HaShanah 2nd Day Morning Service* 

Wednesday, September 15    
5:30 PM Kol Nidre Tot Service*
6 PM Kol Nidre Intergenerational Family Service*         
7:45 PM Kol Nidre Service with sermon from Rabbi Daniel Fellman 

Thursday, September 16    
8:15 AM Yom Kippur Tot Service*        
9 AM Yom Kippur Morning Intergenerational Family Service         
11 AM Yom Kippur Morning Service with sermon from Rabbi Keren Gorban 
1:30 PM Yom Kippur Beit Midrash*                
4 PM Yom Kippur Minchah Afternoon Service* 
5:15 PM Yom Kippur Yizkor with sermon from Rabbi Daniel Fellman & N’ilah*    
7:15 PM Yom Kippur Break Fast: a light, portable snack to break your fast

Tuesday, September 21  
10 AM Sukkot Morning Service at Rodef Shalom Congregation (4905 Fifth Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15213)

Monday, September 27  
6 PM Torah Celebration with Consecration of New Students (Pre-K–3)

Tuesday, September 28
10 AM Simchat Torah Morning Service with Yizkor at Temple Sinai

*Open to the community. Advanced registration and Community Cards of Admission are required.
 American Sign Language interpreter provided

Livestream and Zoom links will be provided closer to the dates above.



what are the High Holy Days?

The High Holy Days are a period that spans nearly two months and might better be called the “Season of Return.” Throughout this time, our rituals and services try to guide us back to the best versions of ourselves, which often gets lost in the busyness of life. Our many observances encourage us to pause and reflect, so that we return our various relationships to wholeness and renew our commitment to righteous living.

Elul (אלול)
Change rarely happens overnight, especially when we are the ones trying to break old, unhealthy habits and develop new, healthy ones. The month of Elul gives us time to reorient ourselves to our personal missions and visions so that we can identify where we’ve succeeded and where we’ve fallen short. We offer S’lichot prayers that remind us of the qualities embodied by our ancestors and the divine attributes that we might want to emulate. In Sefardi tradition, S’lichot begins at the beginning of Elul; in Ashkenazi tradition, S'lichot starts at the end of Shabbat about a week before Rosh HaShanah. During Elul there is also a practice of reciting Psalms 27 and 130, symbolically asking God to guide us back to the path of righteousness.

Rosh HaShanah (ראש השנה)
Our preparation in Elul leads us to Rosh HaShanah on the 1st day of the month of Tishrei, which celebrates the creation of the world and God’s sovereignty. We eat round challah to remind us of the cycle of the year and a crown. We hear the blasts of the shofar that announce the presence of God in our midst. The shofar’s penetrating sound rouses our lazy souls to do the work of repentance. 
We call upon God as a loving and forgiving parent who only wants the best for us.

Ten Days of Repentance (עשרת ימי תשובה Aseret Y’mei T’shuvah)
The ten days from the beginning of Rosh HaShanah to the end of Yom Kippur invite us to repair the mistakes of the past year and commit to doing better. One of the rituals during this time is Tashlich, which we often do on the afternoon of Rosh HaShanah. During Tashlich we try to unburden ourselves of our failures and missteps by casting sticks, pebbles, or birdseed into flowing water. (People have often used bread for Tashlich, but it harms the fish and birds and pollutes the water.) This period also includes the Fast of Gedaliah, which takes place on the 3rd of Tishrei. During the daylight fast, we mourn the assassination of the Judean governor Gedaliah by other Jews and remember how important it is for us to support each other and our community. The Shabbat between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur is called Shabbat Shuvah and includes special insertions into prayers that ask God to remember us for goodness and inscribe us in the Book of Life.

Yom Kippur (יום כפור)
By the time we reach Yom Kippur, we have hopefully done much of the work of repair to return our human relationships to wholeness. If so, then the services of Yom Kippur focus on how to bring wholeness to our relationship with the Divine. With a full sundown-to-sundown fast from food, drink, sex, cosmetics, and leather; simple clothes (often white); and a day spent in prayer, we ask God to forgive us for the harm we have caused and to guide us toward a better life. The final blasts of the shofar at the end of Yom Kippur mark the Days of Repentance but reverberate within us so we continue 
the work.

Sukkot & Sh’mini Atzeret-Simchat Torah (סכות ושמיני עצרת-שמחת תורה)
The High Holy Days don’t end with Yom Kippur but continue with the festival celebrations of Sukkot and Simchat Torah. On Sukkot we celebrate our many blessings—it’s called Z’man Simchateinu, the Time of Our Joy. We build sukkot, temporary structures with sturdy walls but a porous roof, to remind us to enjoy what we have despite the impermanence of life. We are commanded to “dwell” in the sukkah for seven days, which the rabbis of old understood as eating meals there. You’re also welcome to study, work, and even sleep in it, too! We also shake the lulav, a bouquet of date palm, willow, and myrtle, and etrog (a lemon-like fruit) to acknowledge God’s presence all around us and the gift of the fall harvest.

The Torah also mentions a holiday called Sh’mini Atzeret that’s observed eight days after Sukkot begins. We combine that holiday with a celebration of the Torah called Simchat Torah. During Sh’mini Atzeret-Simchat Torah, we sing and dance with the Torah scrolls. We also read the last chapters 
of the Torah and begin again with the first chapters. 

From the beginning of Elul through the end of Simchat Torah, we have finally come back full-circle—to beginning of the year to the beginning of the Torah, and to our truest selves.


Mon, July 4 2022 5 Tammuz 5782