Sign In Forgot Password

Bringing Your Best At Home Together

09/03/2020 04:25:41 PM


This week, parashat Ki Tavo describes the first two communal prayer experiences that the Israelites will experience as they enter the holy land. This week, I’d like to explore them briefly, and translate them to some important lessons and technical tips for us to make meaning on these High Holidays that will be like no others. Read on for some ideas about how to prepare your home environment, computer and, most importantly, yourself for the holidays that begin just two weeks from now.

Bringing Your Best:

The first prayer experience in our portion is that the Israelites were commanded to bring their first fruits to the Temple. Normally, they would come in great throngs. However, ultimately, their experience was individual - they would offer their best and first fruits of the harvest as they recited the holy words. As we prepare for Holidays At Home Together, how will you bring your “best and first fruits?”

Prepare your Home:

How will you bring God into your home? One way is to prepare your space. Don’t watch services from a home office or kitchen. Sit where you would if you were welcoming guests. Clear distractions. Consider setting your phone to “do not disturb” or putting it in another room. Have your laptop or device on a decorated table. It is possible to project your computer or iPad screen onto a TV (though be careful about audio feedback if you are watching from two devices in the same room). Have photos or keepsakes of loved ones nearby. If there are children in your life, consider decorating your space with holiday-themed drawings or art. Think about what you are wearing. While you could watch services in your pajamas, if you are going to invite God into your home, put on real pants. It will feel different. Also, DO YOU HAVE A PRAYERBOOK? While we will also have digital mahzorim to download at the last minute, you will have a more meaningful experience if you have a physical book in your hand. Fill out this form right away to make sure you have copies.

Answering Amen:

The second prayer experience that the Israelites had was standing on the top of two mountains. The Levite declared a series of blessings and curses, and individual tribes of the Israelites answered "Amen." It was impossible for the entire nation to recite the prayer, or even to respond at once, but even hearing just a fraction of a nation respond “Amen” must have been an overwhelming experience.

Being able to be part of the community, to sense the presence of others and to be heard by the community, is an essential part of the prayer experience. I cannot not imagine going through the High Holiday season praying and teaching to a camera. What will get me through is knowing that I am praying with people who I can see and hear, and to connect with everyone whom I have missed seeing over the last year. We want every member of our community to be one of those tribes standing on the mountain, answering amen and not just a passive observer. To do that, you must prepare your technology and prepare yourself.

Prepare your Technology:

Our services will be on Zoom, but especially for our main services, we will be using some special features that we don’t normally use for our services. Even if you are a Zoom maven, it’s worth testing in advance so you don’t miss out. Make sure you are on the most recent version of the Zoom software ( and come to one of the High Holiday Tech Test Sessions. Click here for more information. Normally, everyone in the meeting can see and be seen if they wish, and that will be the case for anyone who registers for our alternative services. For our main services, we are using a special feature called “webinar,” which means that only up to 100 households at a time (and sometimes fewer) will be able to be seen and heard. At some times, that may be everyone who is in attendance. At other times, we are featuring those who would normally have been most visible - those leading prayers, saying kaddish, etc. We do want every member of our community to feel like they are in the sanctuary with us, to be heard saying "amen." If you and your friends or extended family want to be on at the same time to be able to see each other during services, take advantage of the opportunity to sign up now. Click here to sign up to be on screen during Rosh Hashanah services. Click here to sign up to be on screen during Kol Nidre and Yom Kippur services. And, when you are muted or not on screen, belt it out and sing like no-one can hear you!

If you want to create a private group, you can build a “watch party” around our one-way livestream. Click here to learn how!

Prepare yourself:

There are many ways to prepare yourself. Consider participating in our “40 Days to a Better You,” 4 minutes a day of spirituality. Click here to learn more or subscribe. You can go back to the start of Elul, or start fresh on Friday as we start talking about forgiveness. Pick up with us on Friday mornings at 8:45 AM as we discuss the theme of the week.

Get into the holiday mood with Selichot next Saturday night, September 12, at 10:00 PM. We’ll join with Cantor Yoav for a singalong of your favorite High Holiday melodies followed by the traditional service. It will be in the Virtual Synagogue

You can also sing along a home with this Spotify playlist:

In addition to formal services, you can bring the holiday to your holiday table with this Rosh Hashanah Seder


The Israelites made their prayer experience special by going to unique places - the Temple in Jerusalem and the mountains by the Jordan. On Tuesday morning, we will be opening sign-ups for three in-person experiences, two at our synagogue building and one in nature. These High Holidays are a reminder that you can bring God wherever you are. You and God can be at Home Together.

Sun, July 14 2024 8 Tammuz 5784