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High Holy Days 2019 Information letter

Shalom Fellow Members of Congregation Beth Israel and guests:

Beginning on Rosh Chodesh Elul (September 1) the blasts of the shofar will herald the new year and call us to the task of looking inward as we prepare to do teshuvah – to repent, to return, to make positive change. Our services during these Days of Awe (Yamim Nora’im) gather the entire community together to engage with this important spiritual work.  Rosh Hashanah services will be  Sunday evening Sep. 29, and Monday and Tuesday morning, Sep. 30/Oct. 1;  Yom Kippur services will be Tuesday evening, Wednesday morning, and Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 9-10. The accompanying detailed schedule lists these and other events for the holidays.

We also encourage you to review in advance the information below.

  • Rosh Hashanah (first day, Monday, September 30): Services are designed so that we can end together as a community. Musaf shofar blowing will be at ~10:30 a.m. The Rabbi's d'var will begin at ~11:00 Services will end before 1 p.m., with more shofar blowing. The Tashlich picnic with Ohev Shalom follows at 2:00 p.m.
  • Service Leadership: We are pleased to welcome Rabbi Margot Stein as our High Holy Days cantor (your July/August Israelight has more information about Rabbi Margot). Meet her on Saturday, September 21, 7:00 p.m., as we observe Selichot and continue to welcome the return of our now restored Survivor Torah scroll.
  • Sukkot Celebration (Friday, October 18 at 6:30 p.m.): The festival of Sukkot -called Z’man Simchateinu, or the Festival of our Joy - will feature dinner in the Sukkah and beer tasting. It will be a joyful time!
  • Other Meaningful Activities: On Erev Rosh Hashanah (Sunday, September 29), we will gather before services for a structured holiday potluck meal at 5 p.m. (other details to follow). On Erev Simchat Torah (Sunday, October 20), we begin at 4:00 p.m. with learning for both the Hebrew School and adults, followed by potluck dinner and joyous services and dancing with the Torah. There will be many more opportunities throughout this holiday-filled month of Tishrei to meditate, learn, drum, dance, eat, drink and schmooze. 

A note about security:  Events in the past year compel us, sadly, to have our doors remain locked at all times. We will strive to have greeters at the door to let you in.

A Service Schedule is enclosed.  Please refer to this schedule for start times of services and other activities.

If you would like more information about the services in general, please call Rabbi Linda Potemken, Rabbi Nathan Martin, Laura Lee Blechner or Larry Hamermesh, or call the Beth Israel office at 610-566-4645.


  • For Members: As a way to express our faith through mindfulness of our environment, we do not issue paper tickets for members. Please be sure to greet the folks at the table in the entrance lobby so we can wish you a L’shana tovah and ensure the security of the building. High Holy Day services are a benefit of your membership. If you have not already paid your dues or made payment arrangements, please do so before the holidays.
  • For Guests: The High Holy Days are a great time to bring friends or family members to our warm, participatory services. We will issue paper tickets for guests. For each guest or family member who lives in the Greater Philadelphia area, there is a suggested donation of $100 per adult. This payment can be applied toward membership dues if they subsequently decide to join Beth Israel within the year. For guests who reside farther away, the suggested donation is $25 per adult.  Please contact Diane Longenecker, our secretary, as soon as possible to register your guests and get tickets. (610) 566–4645 or

Participation: There are many opportunities to participate during our Yamim Nora’im services. We invite you to read an English prayer or compose your own Kavannah (meditation/intention) on pertinent themes. We need volunteers to greet people in the lobby and help with parking and food. Please contact Laura Lee ( or Larry ( if you are interested in participating this year.

Accessibility: We have several ways to improve access to our services for persons with hearing, visual or mobility disabilities. For more information, visit our website under the Worship tab.

Cellphones and Electronics: To minimize distraction during our services, we ask that all cellphones be turned off or muted and not used in the building during services. Please leave other electronic devices at home. We ask parents to support this policy and communicate this request to their family.

Children’s Services & Child Care: Child care will be offered and children’s services will be held during the mornings of Rosh Hashanah Day 1 and Yom Kippur. Children’s services will begin at approximately 10:00 a.m. This service will be a part of the comprehensive programming for children, up to age 11, all infused with High Holy Day themes. If you would like to enroll your child(ren) in childcare, please review the enclosed information.

Tween/Teen Chat: At 11:00 am on Rosh Hashanah Day 1 and on Yom Kippur, we will have a guided discussion for tweens and teens (middle school age and up) to talk about Judaism, high holy days, and our world today. One or both of the sessions will be facilitated by BI member, Emma Lefkowitz), and will take place in the library. There will also be some quiet crafts and games available in the library for older children who can play independently with minimal supervision.

L’shanah tovah u’metukah tikateivu. May you be inscribed for a good and sweet year.

Lynn Cashell, President

Rabbi Linda Potemken & Rabbi Nathan Martin

Laura Lee Blechner, Religious Practice Committee Chair and High Holy Day Vice Chair

Sun, September 22 2019 22 Elul 5779