High Holidays FAQ

Will services be entirely virtual this year?


In order to be as healthy and safe as possible, High Holiday Services and other holiday-related activities will take place virtually on Zoom. Portions of the services will be interactive, so they will be live, rather than pre-recorded.  

Is there a cost for attending services?

Jewish Gateways' High Holiday services are supported entirely by tax-deductible donations from those who attend.

Therefore, we suggest a contribution of $50 per adult for each evening or day on which you join us. The suggested amount for each family service is $25/family. 


We know that some cannot give these amounts, while others can give more. Please consider making as generous a gift as you can at this time when some participants are experiencing economic hardship due to the pandemic.

You may donate when you register online, or by sending us a check and including your email address so we can send you links for the services.


Who will lead the services?

Rabbi Bridget Wynne brings her warmth, creativity, depth of knowledge, and commitment to addressing the big questions of life with openness and honesty. Learn more about Rabbi Bridget and the sermons she's given at previous Jewish Gateways High Holiday services.

Musician Joel Siegel brings his deep knowledge of Jewish music and his love of enabling people to connect through melody and song. He has led music at camps, synagogues, and other Jewish venues throughout the Bay Area for many years, as well as performing with a number of groups that play Jewish music.  

How will I receive the links to participate in the services? 

We will email links for the services to everyone who has registered for or made a donation in support of them. You can register for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur online.

If you have not received a link that you believe you should have, please contact us at info@jewishgateways.org.

Will we use prayer books? If so, how do I get one?

We use prayer books we have created especially for these virtual services. 

Words to prayers and songs will be visible on your screen during services, including translation and transliteration of non-English text.

In case you prefer a physical prayer book we offer a few options below. Note that we do not use prayer books for family services.


  • The prayer books are available on our website so you can print them ahead of time.

  • The prayer books are available at several pickup sites. Locations are listed below. If you want to pick one up, let us know which location you prefer and we will give you the address.​​​

    • El Cerrito/Richmond border area (near Barrett Ave.)

    • North Berkeley/Albany

    • South Berkeley/North Oakland area

    • Walnut Creek

    • Alameda/Bay Farm

  • You can request that we mail you a copy, if there's enough lead time. 

Is there anything else I need to have ready for the services?

Candles: We light candles shortly after the beginning of the evening services on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. We encourage you to have your own candles ready to light along with us.

Holiday drink and food: At the end of the Erev/Eve of Rosh Hashanah service, and of the Rosh Hashanah Morning service, we will offer blessings over wine or juice and challah. We invite you to have your own drink and food ready for those services. If you don't have wine/juice or challah, whatever you have to drink and eat will work!

Paper and Pen or Pencil: You may want to jot down notes about anything that especially speaks to you during services. There will also be times when you'll be invited to write or draw. Please bring paper and a writing implement if possible.

Set up Your "Sacred Space": To enhance your experience, we invite you to plan ahead of time where you will be when you will participate in services. You might want to clear space so you are not distracted by everyday items around you; set up favorite photos, momentos, or a plant or flowers; cover the surface in front of you with a white table cloth, or whatever else will feel different from other times that you use electronic devices.  

What should I do if I have technical questions or problems?

If you have any concerns about technical aspects of the services, please register at least a few days ahead of time so you have a chance to practice. We will email you detailed information on how to join services. Once you have read the information and tried joining Zoom, please let us know of any problems so we can help you before the services.

We will be available on Zoom for half an hour before each service starts to help with technical problems, so please join early if you'd like help.

Once the services begin, if you have a technical problem you will be able to communicate with the people managing the technical aspects by writing a note to them in the chat box on your Zoom screen. 

What if I've never used Zoom before?

You will need a computer, tablet, smartphone, or phone to access Zoom. We suggest you try it ahead of time to be sure you will be able to join the services. You may want to use these step-by-step instructions. If you need help, please contact us ahead of time so we can arrange for a volunteer to assist you.  

I don't like online events. Is there any other way to participate in services this year?


You are not alone! Here are some options:

  • Participate using a smartphone or a regular phone. When we email information to those who register for services letting them know how to join online, we will also include information on how to join by phone. It is simple. You just call the number we provide, then punch in the meeting ID numbers, which will also be included in the email, and you will be able to listen to services.

  • Read and reflect on the prayer books we use for in-person High Holidays. You can print them or read them on a computer, tablet, or other device.

  • Listen to the music of our High Holiday Services

What will the virtual family services be like?

To help children be actively engaged during family services, each will include working on and sharing a holiday-related project, along with the music, movement, and story that are always part of family services. Supply packs for the projects will be available at locations in several different areas. They will be near the front doors of community members so you can just drop by and pick one up for each of your children. We encourage each family to do this.

The activity packs are available at several pickup sites. Locations are listed below. If you want to pick one up, let us know which location you prefer and we will give you the address.​​​

  • El Cerrito/Richmond border area (near Barrett Ave.)

  • North Berkeley/Albany

  • South Berkeley/North Oakland area

  • Walnut Creek

  • Alameda/Bay Farm


If you are not able to pick up the supplies, we will also provide suggestions of ways your children can participate using materials in your home.