High Holy Days 5778/2017

Tending Our Hearts; Mending the Field

We are living in a precarious time. The last year has revealed many rifts in the field of compassion, in the ecological field, in the field of family relations and in the integrity of the whole – something we might call "the Godfield." We have experienced and internalized these breakdowns, and our hearts have suffered.

Combining traditional liturgy with creative innovation, our High Holy Days will address the state of our hearts in these hard times, and the hard times themselves. What do we need to reckon with, what do we need to let go of, and what do we need to nurture and embrace in order to be healers of our communities, our planet and our hearts?

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 date for more information)


    Saturday, September 16 ~ 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, some nice 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

    Wednesday, September 20
    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

The day will open with two starting options: a meditative hour for adults, or a family service geared for folks with young children, and congregants who want to support intergenerationality
at Ner Shalom!

Thursday, September 21
9:30 AM - Morning Family Service - For folks with young children and congregants who enjoy being with them.
9:30 AM - Alternative Adult Meditative Session (1 hour), led by Leiah Bowden
10:30 AM - Service Continues for Adults; Child Care Begins
1:00 PM - Vegetarian Potluck Lunch

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: the Creation of the world.
The morning service will conclude by approximately 1 PM.

rosh hashanah tashlich

Thursday, September 21,  3:00 PM
Led by Reb Irwin
Free and open to all.
   At the bridge over the creek on the Cotati bike path (wheelchair accessible)
   Join us for this very affecting ritual, in which we let go of what holds us back by casting seeds and crumbs into living water.

shabbat shuvah

    Saturday, September 23 ~ 10 AM
    Free and open to all.
    We welcome Shabbat with song and soulfulness. We will all be pre-tenderized
     from these holidays, so expect this morning to be sweet and deep.


kol nidre - yom kippur and shabbat evening

    Friday, September 29
— 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 heal the field, and be better peacemakers and vehicles of holiness. A night of soul-stirring prayer and beautiful     music. 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 and shabbat morning

    Saturday, September 30
    9:30 AM – Morning Family Service – For folks with young children and congregants who enjoy supporting them.
    9:30 AM – Alternative Adult Meditative Session (1 hour), led by Leiah Bowden
    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, our relationships     and the physical, emotional and spiritual fields we share. The service will include Storahtelling, a lively, participatory presentation of     the Torah Service.

yom kippur afternoon: healing service

   Saturday, September 30, 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 book of jonah

    Saturday, September 30 ~ 4:30 PM
    Jonah is the most resistant prophet of the bible. And also the most effective. In this text     study with Reb Irwin, we will discuss what guidance this book holds for us in     responding to our own call to make change.


yom kippur yizkor service

    Saturday, September 30
    5:15 PM
Led by Sally Churgel
    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 lives. 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

    Saturday, September 30
    6:15 PM
- Potluck Break-the-Fast Follows
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 the time of the closing of the gates; our last communal opportunity to make amends, to achieve new resolve, to write our own intentions in 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.

Banner image by Leiah Rubin Bowden

Photographs by Lorenzo Valensi