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High Holidays 5781/2020

1 Elul 5780

Dear Young Israel of West Hartford community,
For so many of us, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are the most important and awe-inspiring days on the Jewish calendar. Moments over this period carry, nourish, and sustain our souls for the entire year. It is with this awesome understanding and responsibility that we have taken weeks of thoughtful preparation and had numerous meetings to design and balance the most meaningful and safe davening during this COVID-19 pandemic. With the immense help and guidance of our medical advisory committee, our ritual committee, and all of you who completed our survey, we are happy to finally roll out our High Holiday plans. We all recognize this year will look and feel very different from years past. Together, we are confident that it will be just as meaningful and inspirational as it has been, in addition to being unique and new.
The community High Holiday survey results were extremely informative and helped shape the structure for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Based on the results of the survey, as well as recommendations from our medical team, all minyanim will continue to be held outside, wearing masks, and in the parking lot of the Young Israel. We will have an open-sided, open-air tent covering the entire space to protect from sun and rain. Bathrooms will be accessible with a strict safety regiment in place, mitigating as much potential risk as possible. We will also have extra cleaning staff on hand.
Security is still a top priority. Moving services outside presents new challenges, where new solutions are constantly being evaluated. As we have done in the past, we will be hiring security guards for these 3 days. Please be in touch with Oren Porat ( if you would like to volunteer for a Shomer shift over the course of these days.
Rosh HaShanah 5781
On Rosh HaShanah day, there will be three minyanim to sign up for:
  1. An Early Minyan – beginning at 6:30 am with Shacharit followed by Torah reading, Shofar and Musaf. This minyan will run approximately 2:30 hours.
  2. A 9:15 AM Minyan – beginning at 9:15 with Shacharit followed Torah reading, Shofar and Musaf. This minyan will run approximately 2:30 hours.
  3. A Shofar & Musaf Option – beginning at 12:00 noon with Shofar and Musaf. This minyan will run approx. 1:30 hours
Separately, there will be a stand-alone shofar blowing gathering at another time still to be determined. As always, if you are unable to attend for any reason and need to hear shofar, we will gladly arrange for someone to come to you.
Additionally, sign up reservations will be taken for the Mincha and Maariv minyanim over the holiday.
Yom Kippur 5781
Yom Kippur will run very similarly to Rosh Hashanah in having 3 separate minyanim, requiring sign up reservations for the other services over the course of the day and alike. The morning options will consist of:
  1. An Early Minyan - beginning at 6:45 am with Shacharit followed by Torah reading, Yizkor and Musaf. This minyan will rule approximately for 2:30 hours.
  2. A 9:30 AM Option - beginning at 9:30 am with Shacharit followed by Torah reading, Yizkor and Musaf. This minyan will rule approximately for 2:30 hours.
  3. A Yizkor and Musaf Option- beginning at 12:15 pm with Yizkor and Musaf.
Additionally, due to timing and space constraints, the first part of Kol Nidre will be done over Zoom (more information will follow). Similarly, we will be having multiple Maariv, Mincha and Neilah minyanim in accordance with demand. 
For both Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur, we will be advising that everyone bring their own machzor. Printed lists with page numbers and the order of davening for the Koren, Artscroll and Birnbaum Machzorim will be available on every seat. If you do not have one, we will have Machzorim available on a table. We ask that you use the same machzor throughout the Yom Tov – taking it home with you between services and returning it to the shul at the completion of the Yom Tov.
Sign up will be online only this year, and on a first come, first serve basis. It is available by clicking here and below. We ask that you respond as soon as possible, and at the latest by Monday, August 31. If anyone needs help registering, you may contact Shayne Kesler or Rabbi Brander to assist you.

We are allowing guests who comply with CDC and Connecticut health mandates, as well as meet our Young Israel COVID-19 screening requirements (see Anyone coming from a state requiring self-quarantine will not be allowed to attend in-person minyan until after the 14-day period (see Preference will be given to Young Israel members and families.
Seat reservations will be at a slightly reduced rate: $100 for members, $75 for members aged 70+, $45 for children/students and $175 for non-members. Please remember, seats cannot be reserved until all past commitments (including dues and other pledges) are paid in full or a payment arrangement is worked out. At the same time, no one will ever be turned away for lack of funds. If needed, please speak confidentially to Shayne Kesler or Rabbi Brander.

We invite you to join us on Wednesday, August 26th, at 8:30 pm, for our Shabbat On Wednesday program. Following Rabbi Brander's d'var Torah, there will be an open forum for Q & A about our High Holiday plans. Please feel free to ask any questions or raise any concerns that you may have then.

As part of the registration, you will see the opportunity to again partake in our community New Year Card again spearheaded by the Trenchers as well as make a contribution to our Kol Nidre appeal. We will also be running our exciting Shul-Bay Honors' Auction in the coming weeks -- check your emails for information and updates.

We would like to thank and express our gratitude to Ruth Alcabes, Ilana Bernstein, Dr. Carolyn Ganeles, Simon Ganeles, David Goldfarb, Sam Leichtberg, Dr. Steven Luger, Jeremy Pava, Dr. Tali Porat, Marc Rifkin, David Rosen, Stan Rutstein, Eileen Weinberg for their help and guidance.
We know this a lot to digest. We appreciate all your patience, understanding and partnership as we work diligently together to meet our goal of an inspiring and safe Yamim Noraim season.
From our families, and on behalf of the board of the Young Israel of West Hartford, we wish you all a very happy and, more importantly, healthy, New Year. 
Shayne Green Kesler                                     Rabbi Tuvia Brander
President                                                         Mara D’Atra

Mon, July 22 2024 16 Tammuz 5784