High Holidays FAQ
Will services be entirely virtual this year?
Due to health concerns High Holiday Services will take place virtually on Zoom. For the majority of the time the services will be live, rather than pre-recorded, which enables us to interact.
We will gather in person on Rosh Hashanah at 12:45pm following morning services for a relaxed picnic (bring your own) and tashlich (ritual to toss away regrets) at Live Oak Park, 1301 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley.
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 $60/adult for each evening or day on which you join us. The suggested amount for each family service is $30/family.
We know that some cannot give these amounts, while others can give more. Please consider making as generous a gift as you can, especially at this time when some participants have experienced 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. If you donate by mail please send your check by August 24 so we have time to respond.
Who leads the services?
Our service leader, 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.
Our musician for the services, 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 Jewish music groups.
How will I receive the links to participate in the services?
If you have not received a link that you believe you should have, please contact us at email@example.com.
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.
As the services approach the prayer books will be available on our website so you can print them ahead of time.
The prayer books will also be available at pickup sites in several East Bay locations. We will email all those who have registered to let them know about this option.
You can request that we mail you a copy if there's enough lead time.
Is there anything else I should 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 -- traditionally two -- 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 will work!
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.
Participate with friends or family: We suggest that you consider sharing the holidays with others with whom you feel safe gathering in person, whether indoors or outdoors. You can join us online and enjoy one another's company at the same time.
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 several days ahead of time so you have a chance to practice. We will email you 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 assistance.
Once the services begin, we will let you know how you can communicate with those offering technical support if you need help.
What if I've never used Zoom before?
You will need a computer (preferred), 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.
Join us for our in-person gathering on Rosh Hashanah following morning services. We'll meet at 12:45pm for a picnic (bring your own) and tashlich (a ritual for tossing away regrets) at Live Oak Park, 1301 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley.
Read and reflect on the prayer books we use for in-person High Holidays, which have a greater variety of materials than those we use for virtual services. 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 actively engage with the 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 for pickup at locations in several areas in the East Bay. As the services approach we will email you information about the locations. In case 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.