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From Rabbi David - Thoughts on Yom Kippur Services Online

09/27/2020 08:02:24 AM


Dear Friends,

While Felicia and I certainly felt the absence of everyone’s physical presence on Rosh Hashanah, having the camera trained on us was a constant reminder that you were with us remotely, and once we began, we felt as if you were there with us.  

As we look ahead to Yom Kippur, there are a number of features that will remain the same, as they seemed to work well for Rosh Hashanah.  At the same time, given that there are some important differences, I wanted to give you some idea of what to expect for Yom Kippur.

As for that which will remain the same, we will begin the morning with a half hour of meditation framed by morning blessings and Psalms; Shacharit (morning service) will feature primarily singing; and once again we will offer an interactive Torah study session at the time when we would normally have the Torah service.  That being said, we have also paid close attention to some features of Yom Kippur that merit special consideration.

1. Kol Nidre - Much of Kol Nidre will remain the same: the beautiful singing of Kol Nidre by Felicia, my D’var Torah, and the service that follows.  However, the second half of the service, after the silent Amidah that includes the Slichot (poems and verses for reflection), will be tailored to maximize an experience of participation.  The result is that this section of the service should move along at a faster pace and end a little earlier than usual. 

2. Silent Amidah throughout - The Yom Kippur Amidah includes confessions (Ashamnu, Al Cheyt) that we also sing publicly, and the counterpoint between the two gives one the opportunity both for an inward as well as a collective experience.  With this in mind, we will bring the fully silent Amidah back for all Yom Kippur services.

3.    Prayers for Healing and Yizkor - These will occur after the interactive Torah study, at the time they normally would.  Following a format similar to Rosh Hashanah, we will offer prayers for people in need of healing, as well as some brief reflections on the work of tikkun (repair) in our community and society.  Then, we will take some time to recite Yizkor for loved ones, friends and members of our community, ending with the Mourners Kaddish.

4.  Musaf, Minchah and Ne’ilah - With the opportunity for a fully silent Amidah, Musaf (which includes U’ne Tane Tokef), will be similar to our historic practice.  However, to accommodate being on screens, Felicia and I decided to lead the Seder ha-Avoda (Service of the Kohen Gadol) differently, replacing the traditional format with selections from the Machzor that allow for more community interaction and participation.

Minchah and Ne’ilah will take place as if everyone were together.  I will chant from the Torah scroll, albeit without a minyan for the purposes of study, and I will also chant the Book of Jonah as the Haftarah.  After Ne’ilah, as always, I will sound the Shofar with a Tekia Gedolah, a fitting end as we emerge from this Day of Atonement renewed for the year.

Wishing everyone a G’mar Hatimah Tovah, a time of being sealed for a year of health and blessings,

Shanah Tovah,

Rabbi Justin David


Mon, December 6 2021 2 Tevet 5782