High Holy Days 5780/2019

Rooting and Reaching

This is a difficult time we’re living in, to be sure. We all need to find our points of strength, compassion and resilience. And a good chunk of that effort is tending to our spiritual health…

Art by Susie Stonefield Miller

Art by Susie Stonefield Miller

The High Holy Days are a brilliant opportunity to reflect, to make amends, and to recommit ourselves to the fullness of our lives and the ways we are called to be of service. Using traditional and non-traditional liturgy, music, movement and radical reading of Torah, the High Holy Days at Ner Shalom lead us on a journey of self-reflection. What are our deep longings? How do we hold our deep grief? What can we root into in order to support ourselves and each other? And what are we reaching toward in our time on this Earth?

Our Jewish mystical tradition describes all of life as a tree, rooted in heaven, drawing down divine energy and blossoming into this world that we live in. How might our sense of self and of purpose transform if we all saw ourselves as heaven’s blossoming?

Join us for these tender and beautiful days at Ner Shalom. Led by Ner Shalom’s Spiritual Leader, Reb Irwin Keller, as well as other inspired leaders and musicians, we will come together to explore what nourishment our thirsty roots need and what dreams our branches seek to touch. Together we will reach new depths and new heights.

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 21 ~ 8:00 PM
Free and Open to All
Selichot is one of the most beautiful rituals of our year. Not a traditional prayer service, it is an opportunity to move as a community into a deeper place of gentleness, forgiveness, expansiveness and beauty. The service will include short teachings, meditation, some of our favorite High Holy Day songs and chants, and a blast of the shofar. About one hour, soup to nuts.

rosh hashanah evening

Sunday, September 29 ~
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 music, joy and awe, opening our work of teshuvah – reflecting and returning. This night is considered to be the birthday of the world. And so we hold this world in special reverence.

rosh hashanah morning

Monday, September 30 ~
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: Hagar the refugee, lost in a wilderness, until an angel speaks and God tells her to open her eyes.

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).

9:30 AM - Morning Family Service - For folks with young children and congregants who enjoy being with them. Led by Janet Rae Jorgensen, Susie Miller, and Reb Irwin Keller. The Family Service is followed by a Nitzanim learning experience for children K-8 (see below).
9:30 AM - Alternative Adult Meditative Session (1 hour), led by Leiah Bowden
The above portion of the day is free of cost.

10:30 AM - Service (including Shofar and Torah services) continues for Adults; Nitzanim Program continues with additional learning, activity and exploration on the topic of "What's in my well?" – for kids K-8. Separate registration required. Childcare also available.

1:00 PM - The morning will conclude with a Vegetarian Potluck Lunch followed by Tashlich.


rosh hashanah tashlich

Monday, September 30, 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, on the east side 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, October 4th ~ 7:00PM
Led by Reb Irwin, Chantleader Atzilah Solot and Friends
Free and open to all.
Being in the middle of the Days of Awe lends depth to everything we do, even a very simple welcoming of Shabbat (with the additional bits that are prescribed for the Shabbat between the High Holy Days). Expect this evening to be sweet and especially deep.

kol nidre - yom kippur evening

Tuesday, October 8 ~ 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, and root deeply in what holds us firm. 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.)

Art by Susie Stonefield Miller

Art by Susie Stonefield Miller

yom kippur morning

Wednesday, October 9 ~
9:30 AM – Morning Family Experience – For folks with young children and congregants who enjoy supporting them. Led by Janet Rae Jorgensen, Susie Miller and Reb Irwin Keller.
9:30 AM – Adult Meditation (1 hour), led by Basha Hirschfeld.
10:30 AM – Service Continues for Adults, including Torah service.Nitzanim Program continues outdoors. (Separate registration required.) Childcare also available.
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 deep, experiential presentation of our Torah portion: Nitzavim – where we all stand and choose between life and death, blessing and curse. What does it mean to choose life?

yom kippur afternoon: healing service

Wednesday, October 9 ~ 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, and our fragile planet itself.


mini-minchah: the story Jonah

Wednesday, October 9 ~ 4:30 PM
Basha Hirschfeld leads us through a gentle exploration of the Book of Jonah. What is the calling that we flee from? What guidance does this story, which always feels true, hold for us in being who we are meant to be?


yom kippur yizkor service

Wednesday, October 9 ~ 5:15 PM
Led by Sally Churgel and Stephanie Brown
Free and open to all.
As we take stock on Yom Kippur, we are aware of those who have gone before us whose influence we still feel. 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, October 9 ~ 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. 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.


Because of sad events we all know about, you will notice an increased security presence at Ner Shalom during the Holy Day services. We will think of these security folks as our protective angels, insuring that we get to pray, sing and think without fear.