This first pandemic year, High Holy Days Services at Temple Beth El San Pedro proved that, with ingenuity and kavanah (intention), the challenges of a pandemic can be overcome and more, even transformed into new inspirational online experiences. One primary concern was how do we create a Mikdash M’at, a sanctuary in our homes, as well as within our hearts, when almost everything is happening virtually.
Our Beth El High Holy Days began with pre-holiday preparations, including three “High Holy Days Boot Camps” – learning opportunities featuring insightful discussions led by Rabbi Cassi about the essential prayers of the High Holy Days and how we can make them more relevant for us in these difficult times. In addition, for twenty-nine days there were beautiful and meaningful Elul Reflections with Rabbi Cassi and members of our community, who shared heartfelt presentations.
Many Temple Beth El volunteers helped personally deliver a special High Holy Days “gift bag” to each congregant’s home. Included in this gift were several typical items (honey, apple) but also instructions to encourage all to fully participate in our never-before-accomplished completely on-line High Holy Days Services. This bag we hope reassured each member that, “You are not alone and we as a community are here for you!”
Rabbi Cassi and Cantor Ilan carefully selected the liturgy, readings, and music for our Services. Rabbi Cassi’s powerful, uplifting, and profound sermons may be viewed and read below. Cantor Ilan’s voice, warm and magnificent, combined with a stirring virtual choir of professional singers, our own choir members, and talented keyboardist, Bob Remstein, to craft a unique and spiritual musical experience.
Added to our High Holy Days Services was an exciting and “delicious” Rosh Hashanah Seder and social meeting, more ways to honor congregants, a drive-by opportunity to hear the sounds of the Shofar outside Temple Beth El, fun and participatory break-out sessions after Services, a personal Tashlich Service, and a Yizkor Memorial Service that included reminiscent photos of those who passed away during this past year in tribute to their lives.
Following each Service, the chat rooms were flooded with comments that expressed overwhelming gratitude for these wonderful events, with hope for recovery, renewal, and blessings in the New Year. There are many suitable words to describe this year’s High Holy Days Services but we’ll say for starters – inspirational, delightful, wonderful, thought-provoking, eloquent, touching, enriching, and heart-warming.
Our Yizkor Book 5781Yizkor Book 5781