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High Holy Days

Image of people in sanctuaryAnnual services on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are a highlight of Knesset Israel's year. The services feature the sound of the shofar, prayer leadership by members of the congregation and teachings by Rabbi David Weiner.

Members and guests are welcome to attend Knesset Israel services in person. For security reasons, nonmembers must preregister to attend in person. Attendance at High Holiday services is a benefit of membership at KI. We offer complimentary tickets to visitors who are members of another synagogue yet find themselves in the Berkshires for these holy days. It is also possible to purchase tickets a la carte for each holiday. Please contact the Knesset Israel office to make arrangements.

Like Shabbat morning and some Friday night services, Knesset Israel's High Holy Day services are available by livestream. On Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, the service follows Mahzor Lev Shalem, copies of which are available in the sanctuary. Those attending online may purchase copies through the synagogue.

Please consult the calendar for the service schedule.


On the Services


Knesset Israel's Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services are moving, participatory and transformative.  Our renewed sanctuary helps enrich the sound and feel of davening. Our shlihei tzibbur and speakers range in age from 14-80+ leading the congregation in prayer, blending traditional modes and contemporary melodies. Rabbi David Weiner sets the tone for the services and enriches them with opportunities for reflection and study.

A highlight of the Rosh Hashanah service is the sounding of the Shofar, which takes place on several occasions, beginning no earlier than 10:00 a.m. both mornings. The sound of the Shofar is meant to call us: to find our souls amidst the noise of our lives; to reconnect with our community and our heritage; to remember our responsibility to infuse the world with justice and compassion.

To learn more about the content of the Rosh Hashana services, click here.

The evening Yom Kippur service will begin with an arrangement of Kol Nidre for the violin. The morning service includes the Yizkor memorial service, and the afternoon the powerful rituals of Neilah.

To learn more about the content of the Yom Kippur services, click here.


LOGISTICS

 

Arrival

The major Rosh Hashana services at KI take place on the first night and on both mornings. The congregation builds slowly but steadily from the beginning of the service (8:30 am) until about 10:30 am. 

Yom Kippur services at KI are well-attended. Plan to arrive on time for Kol Nidre, allowing for time to park, as entry to the sanctuary will be permitted only before and between the parts of the service. The musical introduction and Kol Nidre, highlights of the service, happen right at the beginning.

Please bring your ticket with you for entry - it makes it easier to welcome you and to ensure security. If, when you signed up for services, you asked to receive your ticket by 'will call', please stop by the table in the lobby just outside the sanctuary to pick it up.

Seating

Expect to enter through one of the social hall doors. Please enter quietly, if the service is in progress when you arrive. Seating is unreserved.

Garments for Prayer

Everyone is encourged to wear a kipa; all those who identify as male must do so. All Jewish adults (age 13+) are encouraged to wear a tallit; those who identify as male must do so. We encourage people to bring their own kippot and tallitot, though KI has some prayer shawls available to borrow. Ushers are available to help all worshipers find what they need.

Fasting

The central observance of Yom Kippur is a 25-hour fast, commencing just before sundown and continuing through nightfall. Fasting is meant to deepen the prayer experience, reduce distraction and help us get in touch with our own vulnerability and mortality.

Fasting is a personal matter. Many in synagogue will be fasting; some, for medical reasons, will be unable to do so. The ritual of fasting cannot be understood as an end in itself. The haftara on Yom Kippur makes it abundantly clear that a fast that fails to attune us to our duties towards the poor, hungry and homeless is a fast in vain.

Young Children

KI offers many options for children on the high holidays. Children are welcome in the main service, and the congregation supports parents and grandparents as they help the next generation experience the day. Children's books, many of them on holiday themes, are available near the library door.

We also recognize that children need a different kind of Yom Kippur experience than their parents do. Babysitting is available each day from 9:30 am to 1 pm for children under 3. This year there will be programming suitable for school age children from 10-noon on the first day of Rosh Hashana and on Yom Kippur. Snack is provided. Advance registration is very helpful—please contact the synagogue office for that.

Sat, May 18 2024 10 Iyyar 5784