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All Things High Holy Days!

 You can find all the up-to-date information on our

High Holy Day page below.

How to Return Your Prayer books

If you borrowed High Holy Day prayer books—it is very simple to return them. We have a table right outside our main doors with a drop box. Put your books in the box and sign your name/date on the list on the clipboard (please print) so we can track who has returned books. Remember, any books not returned by Friday, October 30 will be charged to your account. If you are returning books for someone else, please print their name so we can properly account for the books that were borrowed. Contact Julie Fishkin at with any questions.

How to Watch  High Holy Day Services

You may watch Judea Reform's High Holy Day services in the following places:

Judea Reform Webpage

Judea Reform Facebook Page

All services can be viewed on our Facebook page (you do not need to have an account on Facebook to view our livestream) or through our website. All other programming that requires a specific link (Selichot, Mediation, Break Fast Schmooze Room we will be posting those links on this page.)

All services will include closed captioning.

High Holy Day Services At-A-Glance


8:30pm Community-wide, “Our Father, Our King”: Wrestling With God
with Eliana Light


5:00pm Young Children “Happy Birthday, World!” Service
6:00pm Congregational Service 


9:00am Family Service  
10:30am Congregational Morning Service
Tashlichself-guided service


Friday at 6:00pm Erev Shabbat T’filah
After services Schmooze Room
Saturday 9:00am Torah Study with Rabbi Soffer  


5:00pm Young Children “I’m Sorry, I Love You” Service
7:30pm Kol Nidre Service


9:00am Family Service   
10:30am Congregational Morning Service
Yom Kippur Afternoon Study Sessions accessible throughout the afternoon
The Union for Reform Judaism's four distinguished scholar lectures in memory of Rabbi Aaron D. Panken (z”l)
1:00pm Meditation Service led by Michael Blackman
2:00pm Healing Service of Music 
3:00pm Afternoon Torah and Haftarah Service 
4:00pm Yizkor Service 
5:00pm N’ielah Service


6:00pm Erev Shabbat & Festival Service 


6:00pm Erev Shabbat & Holiday Service

Click here to print a copy of the Services Schedule

Virtual High Holy Days: What to Expect & How to Prepare

Last year sitting in the sanctuary, no one could have imagined we would be ushering in 5781 and preparing to welcome the Days on Awe online. Yes, the High Holy Days will be different this year.  There is much for which we can be grateful: our amazing Judea Reform community; the technology that allows us to gather; creativity borne of necessity; new ways to stay connected; resilience and transformation. In this spirit, as we enter this unknown roadmap together, we offer some suggestions to help you transform your home into a sacred place of holiness. Consider them if they are helpful for you and your family in any way; please know there is no right or wrong way to be present for virtual High Holy Days.
And we also know that coming to the synagogue is not just about the setting—it’s about the people, sense of history, prayer and spirituality, and the many things that make our community unique. This year, the Hebrew word Hineni (I am here) takes on new meaning. It’s not just our call for our prayers to be heard. This year we say “Here I Am” as a commitment. Even though we are not together physically, we commit to being present for ourselves, for our loved ones, and for our greater community. There has never been a more important time to do so.


Make me a Sanctuary and I will dwell among them. —Exodus 25:8

If possible, designate somewhere in your house that you can sit comfortably and see the computer. For some it may be possible to connect your computer to your TV to allow for families to view together. Most sanctuaries in North America are situated so that people face East when they pray toward Jerusalem. If knowing where East is when sitting in your designated “prayer space” is important to you, embrace it.

In setting up your home sanctuary, you may want to surround yourself with some of the familiar and ritual objects of prayer and of the High Holy Days. Rosh Hashanah begins on Shabbat this year: set up your Shabbat candles and light them during services. Honor your ritual practice customs—if you wear a tallit or kippah in synagogue, try doing that at home. Does it help to hold the machzor? Then borrow a set of prayer books from Judea Reform. (You will receive Shabbat and Yizkor candles, as well as special matches, in your High Holy Day Gift Bags.)

Mark your calendar and set aside the time to be present for the services you plan to attend. Give yourself permission to put aside all work emails, meetings, phone calls when you are sitting in your home sanctuary. Consider wearing something befitting of the holiness of the holiday: it’s traditional to wear something new on Rosh Hashanah and to wear something white on Yom Kippur.

If you are parents of young or school age children, please know we have services for you. Check the roadmap for services for young children and services for families. (Your gift bags will have special High Holy Day coloring sheets, crayons, and a “shofar”—a small gesture toward providing some holiday activities for your children.) There are many online resources for great High Holy Day activities for kids, perhaps preparing some of those activities make it possible for some adult service time. Check out PJ Library and the Union for Reform Judaism Websites for some of our favorites! 

Entering the Gates of Awe (Shaarei Yir’ah)

JRC’s ROADMAP for the High Holy Days 5781


פִּתְחוּ־לִ֥י שַׁעֲרֵי־צֶ֑דֶק אָֽבֹא־בָ֝ם אוֹדֶ֥ה יָֽהּ׃ 

Open the gates of righteousness for me so I may enter them and praise the Eternal.

-Psalms 118:19


The High Holy Days: our “peak season” for togetherness, inspiration, and renewal. For thousands of years, the Jewish People annually observe this period by entering our Temples, feeling the inimitable spirit of community, an annual Homecoming to Holiness.  This year this sacred obligation demands ultimate devotion and creativity.  We will open our minds and hearts to reimagine sacred spaces.  This is not the first time our tradition has faced this challenge. In fact, it is this very exercise that gave birth to Judaism as we know it, fashioned not on a physical Temple in Jerusalem, but rather on Judaism’s cornerstones: Torah, spirituality, and righteousness. Through teshuva (“sacred turning”), we turn to the resilience and innovative spirit of our ancestors to engage in a genuine and meaningful experience for our whole community.

This year, 5781, we discover new Gates of Awe to guide us through the transformative tradition of the High Holy Days.

Preparing for the Journey


“Our Father, Our King”: Wrestling with God, Discussion led by Eliana Light 
Saturday, September 12 at 8:30pm 
Join our Jewish Community Selichot service led by Eliana Light. Eliana Light envisions a joyful, vibrant, heart-centered Judaism that speaks to the soul and moves the spirit, reminding us that we all are One. In 2019, she was named to Jewish Week's 36 under 36. Through song, text, and reflections, Eliana will help explore how the words of the High Holy Day Liturgy weave a particular story about God and how God works in the world, finding new ways into our sacred heritage. Register here.

Co-sponsored by: Jewish Federation of Durham/Chapel Hill, Judea Reform Congregation, Beth El Synagogue, Kehillah Synagogue, Beth Meyer Synagogue 


September 13—18 
The Days of Awe are filled with wonder and worship, days of reflection, prayer, and fasting. In the week leading up to Rosh Hashanah (September 13-18) we invite you to come to Judea Reform to start your journey. Pick up your Machzorim (prayer books and gift bags—curbside) and staff and Board members will be on hand to greet you and wish you a happy new year (with masks and gloves on, of course). We also invite you to sanctify the beginning of your High Holy Day journey with a few moments in front of our portable Ark, which we will have outside for one-at-a-time visits (weather permitting). No sign up necessary—just come at one of the below scheduled times that works for you. Let's get ready for 5781 as a community!

  • Hear the Shofar 
  • Pick up a Machzor (Prayerbook) & High Holy Day Gift Bag
  • Take a Moment for Personal Prayer at the portable ark (outdoors, weather-permitting).

Sunday, September 13 from 4:oo-6:oopm
Tuesday, September 15 from 12:oo-2:00pm
Wednesday, September 16 from 10:00am-12:00pm
Thursday, September 17 from 5:00-7:00pm
Friday, September 18 from 11:00am-1:00pm

All activities will be socially distanced with careful COVID-19 safety precautions in place. All activities will be outside and tented. Staff and Board members will be wearing masks and gloves. Masks required for congregants.

Bringing the High Holy Days Home: Gift Bags

We are busy preparing High Holy Days in a Bag for all members (another reason to renew now!). This year as we reinvent many aspects of our sacred holiday season, we know many of you will be reimagining our sacred spaces in your homes and online. To help bring the Days of Awe into everyone’s homes, we are preparing special High Holy Day Gift Bags that will include usable items (including Shabbat and Yizkor candles) for all to embrace the many ritual and traditions of our holidays. A print version of our High Holy Day Roadmap/Program will be included, with a beautiful self-guided ritual for Tashlich.

Rosh Hashanah

Tashlich: “Casting Away” for the New Year

A Self-Guided Service from Rabbi Soffer
The word tashlich means “casting off,” referring to the Jewish practice of casting off sins. The Jewish community has practiced this Rosh Hashanah custom since the 13th century, and it holds no less significance for us today. 

In Jewish tradition, water is powerfully associated with healing and purification. As we “cast off” our sins, we yearn for these waters to absorb the weight of our mistakes, an important step in the process of teshuva (turning), as we grow in righteousness.  

This is a personal exercise of the spirit, and it’s open to all. We invite you to find a nearby stream or lake, and whether alone or with others, engage in tashlich. These words are as a guide, but the ritual, truly, is yours to own. As tradition teaches: prayer without mindful intention is like a body without a soul —Bahya ibn Pakuda, 11th c. 

To our congregants unable to leave home: In this tashlich liturgy you will find a special prayer that your community members will speak as they stand by the water, on your behalf.  Your practice of this ritual is no less authentic in your space than it is any other. We pray that as your lips speak these words, you feel the embrace of Judea Reform Congregation.  

May this Tashlich ritual bring nourishment to your soul this High Holy Day season.  

L’Shana Tova,



Rabbi Matthew V. Soffer

Those Congregants who picked up their High Holy Day Gift Bag during Open Ark Week may use the environmentally friendly, biodegradable paper to engage in this ritual.

Click here for Rabbi Soffer's Self-Guided Tashlich Ritual

Yom Kippur


Videos available by clicking on the links below. Presented from our partners at the Union for Reform Judaism by four distinguished scholars in memory of Rabbi Aaron D. Panken (z”l):


This year we are compiling a memorial montage of those who have passed since last High Holy Days—Zecher Yakireinu: Remembering Our Loved Ones.

Those Congregants who picked up their High Holy Day Gift Bag during Open Ark Week may use the Yizkor candle provided to engage in this ritual. Special thanks to Steve Simon for helping to prepare Zecher Yakireinu: Remembering Our Loved Ones.

Click here for Prayers for Lighting Yikzor Candles


Erev Shabbat & Festival Service

Friday, October 2 at 6:00pm 
Celebrate the holiday of Sukkot with Judea Reform. Rabbi Soffer will lead services from his Sukkah and we’ll be taught by Coby Chambers as he becomes bar mitzvah.

Entering the Sukkot "State of Mind": An Ancient Debate with a Salient Question

Wednesday, October 7 at 11:00am 
Tune in to hear Rabbi Soffer speaking from his home sukkah in the JCC Chaverim Program about Entering a "Sukkot State of Mind."


Reflections from Howie Peckman

Judea Reform congregant, Howie Peckman, has been leading the building of Judea Reform’s Sukkah for the past 10 years. Since we won’t be together in person this year, Howie offers his reflections on building a sukkah in your own home. 

There is a Time for Everything
By Howie Peckman

Many times, after the High Holidays, we do not have the time or energy for Sukkot. However, this can be a simple family holiday celebrated at home.  

It may be intimidating to build a sukkah for the first time, but remember, the sukkot we build are never perfect (they are not meant to be). They represent the fragility and imperfections of life itself. We usually start building the sukkah the day after Yom Kippur, but it is always best to do when you are ready. Here are some options:

Buy a Sukkah Kit: Judea Reform Congregation purchased an easy to assemble Sukkah from “The Sukkah Project” many years ago. This company, originally from Durham but now in Colorado, has been providing (as they put it) “Klutz-Proof Sukkah kits” since 1996 in a variety of sizes.

Create/Build your own Sukkah: Just as we use our favorite search engine to find “easy kugel recipes”, you can search for “easy sukkah build” or the like. Remember you only need 2 ½ walls, so use that to your advantage. Old PCV pipes are perfect for the structure itself, and old sheets can be used for your walls. Autumn is a great time to trim the trees and use the limbs for your sukkah roof.

Eat outside: The best part of Sukkot is making it a point to eat meals outside with your friends and family. This may be one of the last times you are able to do so for several months. How you do that is totally up to you!

Decorate: Fruit, animals, and colorful decorations always make each sukkah    unique. Everyone has their own style to decorate. Go for it!

When it all comes down to it, celebrating Sukkot is appreciating nature and giving thanks for the abundance we have with family, friends, and food.

Simchat Torah & Confirmation

Erev Shabbat & Holiday Service

Friday, October 9 at 6:00pm
Celebrate with Judea Reform as we renew our engagement with our Torah and begin the journey again through the Five Books of Moses. We’re especially honored to learn from the Confirmation Class of 5780.

Purchase Mishkan HaNefesh

If you are interested in owning your own set of High Holy Prayer books you can purchase them here at the CCAR Press.

Purchase Kindle eBook

If you prefer an ebook, Amazon has an ebook for the Kindle. Did you know that your amazon purchases can benefit Judea Reform? Simply go to, login with your Amazon credentials and select Judea Reform Congregation. Amazon donates .5% of enrolled supporters’ purchases directly to Judea Reform. 

High Holy Day Guest Access

In the spirit of our welcoming and inviting community, our High Holy Day services will be open to all. Guests, family, and friends are welcome to join us in prayer and community. Please consider supporting our virtual environment and synagogue community with a tax deductible donation ($154, $72, $54) to our General Fund (and add High Holy Days to the notes). 

Our Natural World: A Virtual Exhibit of Congregant Artwork Coming This Fall

The Rosenzweig Gallery  will host  our first virtual art exhibit this fall.  As we  prepare for the High Holy Days, and we reflect on the beauty of the natural world, please consider submitting your art work. More information about how and what to submit read here. We invite any member of our congregation, high school age or older to participate and share their paintings, drawings, photographs, collages or other mixed media, textiles, fabric, clay, jewelry, wood work or other crafts. Contact Barbara Silver at

High Holy Day Tzedakah Box is Now Virtual

This new year, do a mitzvah for your community and celebrate your tzedakah by feeding the hungry.   

“…open your hand to the poor and needy…” (R’eih Deuteronomy 15:11). 

Instead of our usual High Holiday Food Drive, that has become so much a part of our in-person High Holy Day experience, this year we will be making donations through Judea Reform’s Virtual Tzedakah Box. All donations to Judea Reform’s Virtual Tzedakah Box, between now and October 31, will be designated for hunger relief in our local community and beyond, via the Interfaith Food Council (IFC) of Chapel Hill, Urban Ministries of Durham (UMD) and Crop Walk (which is local and global). Our partners are serving an expanding need in these difficult times, at the same time they are experiencing shortages in both space and volunteers. They have asked for monetary donations this year.

Elul · Tishrei Book Group from Adult Education

What does it mean to celebrate the Jewish holidays and find fresh meaning in them? Join our Elul/Tishrei Book Group in reading My Jewish Year: 18 Holidays, One Wandering Jew by Abigail Pogrebin. We will meet Thursdays a at 7:00pm on September 17, 24, & October 1 to discuss Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot/Simchat Torah respectively (and add dates later in year for additional holidays). Discussion will be led by Chip Carnathan, Co-Chair Adult Education Committee. Register here (to receive the Zoom link). Books can be purchased at our local, independent bookseller or if you order through amazon (for print or ebook), remember to register with and support Judea Reform. Let's read and discuss together. Questions, contact Rena Fraade at

Need Technology Support?

We have a lot of Zoom resources on our website. If you would like a human to help, please send an email to

Sat, October 24 2020 6 Cheshvan 5781