High Holy Days 5779/2018

Leaving, Returning, Emerging

We live in a difficult and vulnerable time, and we struggle with what is demanded of us. This year we will look at how we might bring our fullest self to our lives, communities and world. What is our journey? What do we leave behind? What can't we leave behind? What do we need to return to, wrestle and reconcile with? And what emerges in and around us through this soul work?

Combining traditional liturgy with creative innovation, our High Holy Days will address our hearts' journeys in these hard times. Reb Irwin and our other skilled congregational leaders will help to navigate these waters. Expect prayer, beautiful music from the Good Shabbos Band and the Ner Shalom Singers, opportunities for contemplation, art installations and deep, soulful community. On Rosh Hashanah this year we will explore the story of Lech Lecha, Abraham and Sarah's departure to an unknown place. On Yom Kippur we will explore Vayishlach, Jacob's return home, on the heels of a wrestling match with a mysterious stranger.

High Holy Days at Ner Shalom are deep, musical, uplifting and unorthodox. See the full listing of services, below. Join us as you can; come for Torah or for the music. Or come walk our High Holy Day labyrinth!

Schedule and Description of Services

(Click a Service for more information)


Saturday, September 1 ~ 8:00 PM
Free and Open to All
Selichot is one of the most beautiful rituals of our year. Not a traditional prayer service in any way, it is an opportunity to move as a community into a deeper place of gentleness, forgiveness, expansiveness and beauty. The service will include stories, short teachings, meditation, some of our favorite High Holy Day songs and chants, and a shofar blast at the end. About one hour, soup to nuts.

rosh hashanah evening

Sunday, September 9 ~
6:30 PM
- Apples & Honey, 7PM - Service
Led by Reb Irwin Keller and Friends
Music by the Good Shabbos Band and the Ner Shalom Singers
We welcome the new year with beautiful music and celebration.

rosh hashanah morning

We move deeper into the spirit of the Holy Days, listening closely to the needs of our souls. The morning includes a Shofar Service as well as creative exploration of our Torah Portion chosen for this year: Abraham and Sarah's departure into the unknown.

The day will open with two starting options: a meditative hour for adults and a Rosh Hashanah experience for young children and their families (and congregants who wish to go intergenerational).

The morning will conclude with a vegetarian potluck followed by Tashlich.

Monday, September 10 ~
9:30 AM - Morning Family Experience - For folks with young children and congregants who enjoy being with them. Led by Janet Rae Jorgensen, Reb Mia Zimman, and Susie Miller
9:30 AM - Alternative Adult Meditative Session (1 hour), led by Leiah Bowden
10:30 AM - Service (including Shofar and Torah services) continues for Adults; Child Care Begins
1:00 PM - Vegetarian Potluck Lunch

rosh hashanah tashlich

Monday, September 10, at 2:30 PM
Led by Reb Irwin
Free and open to all.
This year we do our ritual of letting go on our own labyrinth, in the east parking lot of the Ner Shalom building. We will begin when people are done with lunch; 2:30 at the latest.
Join us for this very affecting ritual, in which we let go of what holds us back by casting seeds into water at the labyrinth's center.

shabbat shuvah

Friday, September 14th ~ 7:30PM
Led by Chantleader Atzilah Solot and Friends
Free and open to all.
We welcome Shabbat with Chantleader Atzilah and the talented members of the Good Shabbos Band. This evening is an extension of our monthly Messengers of Peace Chant Evening, engaging Hebrew text in an ecumenical way. We will all be pre-tenderized from Rosh Hashanah, so expect this evening to be sweet and especially deep.


kol nidre - yom kippur evening

Tuesday, September 18 ~ 7PM
Led by Reb Irwin and Friends
Music by the Good Shabbos Band and the Ner Shalom Singers
Our most solemn night of the year where we dig into the question of how we might hold our hearts firm and open, how we might leave behind what we need to, reconcile with what we need to, and be better peacemakers and vehicles of holiness on this journey with unknown destination. We will be moved by the musical gifts of the Ner Shalom Singers, the Good Shabbos Band, and more.

Please bring photos or memorabilia of loved ones whose loss you will reflect on in Wednesday's Yizkor Service. These will go on our Memorial Table. (Be sure to mark them as yours.)


yom kippur morning

Wednesday, September 19 ~
9:30 AM – Morning Family Experience – For folks with young children and congregants who enjoy supporting them. Led by Janet Rae Jorgensen and Susie Miller.
9:30 AM – Alternative Adult Meditative Session (1 hour), led by Barbara Hirschfeld and Atzilah Solot
10:30 AM – Service Continues for Adults; Child Care Begins
We move deeper into our work of teshuvah, finding the road back to our own selves, working to repair our hearts and our relationships in order to continue the journey. The service will include a lively, participatory presentation of our Torah portion: Jacob's wrestling an angel before returning home.

yom kippur afternoon: healing service

Wednesday, September 19 ~ 3:30 PM
We come back together to pray for healing. With song, imagery and prayer we will focus on refuah shleymah – complete healing of body and spirit, for ourselves, our loved ones, and others in the world who are hurting.


mini-minchah: the story Chanah

Wednesday, September 19 ~ 4:30 PM
This year we take a break from our usueal Jonah fare, and look at the story of Chanah, the mother of the prophet Samuel. Her grief and the prayers of her heart are held in our tradition as the model of personal prayer. In this text study with Reb Irwin, we will discuss what guidance this story holds for us in bringing fulfillment from grief.


yom kippur yizkor service

Wednesday, September 19 ~ 5:15 PM
Led by Sally Churgel and Stephanie Brown
Free and open to all.
As we take stock on Yom Kippur, we become aware of those who have gone before us whose influence we still feel in our steps. Join us for memory, story and song. Please bring photos or memorabilia of loved ones whose loss you hope to reflect on, if you did not already bring those items and place them on the Memorial Table at Kol Nidre. (Be sure to mark them as yours.)


yom kippur neilah service

Wednesday, September 19 ~ 6:15 PM
Led by Reb Irwin and Friends

In our tradition, we imagine the Gates of Heaven closing at the end of Yom Kippur. It is also the moment that we imagine Jacob and Esau's tearful reunion to have taken place. The Neilah service is our last communal opportunity to make amends, to achieve new resolve, to write our own intentions into the Book of Life.
The service is followed at 7:00 PM by a short havdalah and a potluck vegetarian break-the-fast.

Come One, Come All

Our services are open to all. Some elements are free of charge. Some, in the long traditional of our people and the institutions they've created, require tickets. If you would like to attend services or would like to use our childcare services and are not able to pay the full fee, there is a low/fixed-income rate available.

Some additional scholarships may also be available. Read our scholarship policy by clicking here. Full or partial scholarships must be requested at least four days prior to Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur.

Priority seating is reserved for pre-registered attendees (at any level).


Scent- and Chem-Free

Congregation Ner Shalom is dedicated to creating community and ritual space that is safe and accessible to all, including people with severe environmental sensitivity. This is a piece of our Torah. To find out what this means, click here.