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188 North Prospect Street
Burlington, Vermont 05401
(802) 864-0218

High Holidays

High Holy Days 5782 at Ohavi Zedek

Celebrating the Jewish Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur

Online Signup – Click Here!

 All services will take place remotely on Zoom and livestream except for family services listed below. Check back here for updates and links to remote services.

Saturday August 28 8:00pm Selichot Contemplative Healing Service
Sunday September 5 10:00am Memorial Service at Hebrew Holy Cemetery
Monday September 6 6:00pm Erev Rosh Hashanah
Tuesday, September 7 9:00am Rosh Hashanah Morning Service
10:00am Rosh Hashanah Family Service

     on the Friends’ Meeting House lawn, weather permitting

10:00am Rosh Hashanah Young Family Service

     on the Fern Hill lawn, weather permitting

3:30pm Family Rosh Hashanah by the Lake and Tashlich 

     on the ECHO Back Patio

Wednesday, September 8 9:00am Rosh Hashanah Morning Service 2nd Day 
Friday September 10 6:00pm Shabbat Shuvah – Kabbalat Shabbat
Saturday September 11 9:15am Shabbat Shuvah 
Wednesday, September 15 6:00pm Erev Yom Kippur (Kol Nidrei)
Thursday, September 16 9:00am Yom Kippur Morning and Yizkor

Book of Life

10:00am Yom Kippur Family Service

     on the Friends’ Meeting House lawn, weather permitting

10:00am Yom Kippur Young Family Service

    on the Fern Hill lawn, weather permitting

3:00pm Yom Kippur Music and Contemplative Service
5:00pm Yom Kippur Afternoon, Closing, and Havdalah
Monday, September 20 6:00pm Erev Sukkot Service
Tuesday, September 21 9:15am Sukkot Morning Service
Wednesday September 22 9:15am Sukkot 2nd Day Morning Service
Sunday September 26 11:00 am Hebrew School Sukkot & Simchat Torah Celebration
Monday September 27 9:15am Hoshanah Rabbah Morning Service
6:00pm Erev Shemini Atzeret Service
Tuesday September 28 9:15am Shemini Atzeret and Yizkor Morning Service
6:15pm Simchat Torah Evening Service
Wednesday September 29 9:15am Simchat Torah Morning Service

We support each other. Please consider pledging to OZ this year.


Prayer Books: Machzor (High Holiday Prayer Book): If you will be participating in services from home, you will be able to download the Machzor. (We won’t be able to accommodate book loans this year.):

Download the Machzor: The digital edition of Machzor Lev Shalem has been updated and improved since last year, and, for a nominal fee we have obtained license for each Ohavi Zedek household to download a copy. The unique link and password will be sent to you by email after you sign up here: https://ohavizedek.shulcloud.com/form/high-holy-days-form-2021/5782.html


OZ Big Expanded Food Drive: This year OZ will be doing an exciting expanded food drive! We will have paper bags, donated by City Market, with a list of needs for the Chittenden County Food Shelf stapled to them. The bags will be available for pick up at the synagogue during Rosh HaShannah, and outside the door in a bin on September 9th & September 12th from 9-5. Please pick up a paper bag, fill the bag up as best you can, and return it to us on Yom Kippur or on 9/17. If it is more convenient, please consider contributing a check payable to Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf. If you would like a bag and can’t make those times please contact [email protected]. In past years, we have donated more than 300 pounds of food!


The New Screen in the Sanctuary: When you come into the Ohavi Zedek sanctuary, you will see a large screen in the front corner of the sanctuary. This screen is for our Zoom participants to be seen by those who are in-person in the sanctuary so that they may be part of the davening/praying experience together.

Much as we wish we could all be together in the sanctuary as we have in the past, we heard from many folks that they need a Zoom option, either sometimes or often. Some people are concerned about Coronavirus transmission, others are infirm or homebound, and others live at a distance. This option has been created so that we can all be “together” as best we can.

We realize the appearance of the screen in the synagogue may be less welcome for some of us, as it is non-traditional, and we understand. We hope you will find the opportunities for connection to be a positive addition as we venture forth together. Of course, we will welcome feedback after the holidays on all aspects of the experience.

So that everyone can see our texts and supplemental materials if they are on Zoom, there is also a small laptop at the podium in the sanctuary to allow for “screen sharing.” Following these many months of services on Zoom, we have heard from folks that this function is essential for them. This is one more aspect of our tech updates that are non-traditional, but in service to our members who need this — set up as unobtrusively as possible. In this way, we help more of us to participate in the holiness of the holidays as best we can.

Thank you to our amazing team for getting this all arranged and set up. And thank you to all of you for rolling with us during these changes as we work to best serve our community at a challenging time. We know that changes like these can be unsettling for some, even while celebratory for others. We care about all of you as we move forward!


The High Holy Days

A guide to Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and the days between

“The symbolism of the shofar is not made explicit in the Torah. Whether it is meant to arouse our slumbering souls or as a clarion to war against the worst parts of our natures, the primitive sound of the shofar blast stirs something deep within us. There is a sense of expectation in the silence before the shofar sound, followed by unease evoked by the various blasts. Part of its sense of mystery lies in the interplay of the silence, the piercing sound, and the hum of people praying. On its most basic level, the shofar can be seen to express what we cannot find the words to say.”

Although the High Holy Days themselves—the two days of Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement)—occupy three days only, they lie within a web of liturgy and customs that extend from the beginning of the preceding Hebrew month of Elul through Yom Kippur. The focus of this entire period is the process of teshuvah, or repentance, whereby a Jew admits to sins, asks for forgiveness, and resolves not to repeat the sins. Recognizing the psychological difficulty of self-examination and personal change, the rabbis instituted a 40-day period whose intensity spirals toward its culmination on Yom Kippur, a day devoted entirely to fasting and repentance.

When Does the Holiday Season Begin?

The High Holy Day period begins on the first day of the Jewish month of Elul. In the Ashkenazi tradition, during this month of soul searching, the shofar, or ram’s horn, is blown each morning except on the Sabbath, to call upon listeners to begin the difficult process of repentance. Also in Elul special haftarot (prophetic portions) focusing on consolation acknowledge the vulnerability of an individual grappling with personal change. During the week before Rosh Hashanah, intensity increases as traditional Jews begin reciting selichot, prayers that involve confessing sins and requesting God’s forgiveness and help. On the Sabbath before Rosh Hashanah, the selichot are chanted at midnight, rather than their usual early morning hour.

Healing Service and Selichot 

Torah teaches us we are to care for each other. As we ready ourselves to enter the new year, please join us for a service that will honor the healing of body and mind and heart. Through singing, prayer, and personal sharing, we will together create sacred space. A short Selichot service will follow the healing service. Come sing and pray and share the spirit of healing.

Memorial Service 

There is a tradition for Jews to visit the graves of loved ones as Rosh Hashanah approaches. We will gather at the Hebrew Holy Society Cemetery on Patchen Road on Sept. 22 at 10:00 am for a brief Memorial Service. At this time, we will bury the contents of the synagogue’s Genizah: worn sacred books and other materials which, because they have the name of God in them, require such care.

What Are the Ten Days of Repentance?

The culmination of the High Holy Day period occurs during the Ten Days of Repentance, which begin on 1 Tishrei with Rosh Hashanah and end with Yom Kippur. During this period, human beings have the chance to tip the scales of divine judgment in their favor through repentance, prayer, and tzedakah (performing righteous deeds and giving money to charitable causes).

Not only is Rosh Hashanah the Jewish New Year, which commemorates God’s creation of the world, but also the Day of Judgment, when God remembers and judges all human deeds. Except on Shabbat, services are punctuated with the call of the shofar, which according to Maimonides is saying, “Awake, you sleepers, from your slumber…examine your deeds, return in repentance, and remember your Creator.” Human beings are believed to be in mortal danger at this time, with their lives hinging on the decision to repent. Only those who choose to forego sin are inscribed in the symbolic “Book of Life” that is a central liturgical image of Rosh Hashanah.

On the afternoon of the first day of Rosh Hashanah, we will meet at The ECHO Center for our annual Rosh Hashanah by the Lake program for children and adults of all ages, featuring Jewish storytelling and songs. Come hear the Shofar sound! Then join us on the Boardwalk for a traditional Tashlich Service of symbolically casting away our personal sins by throwing breadcrumbs into a flowing body of water. This action is accompanied by the recitation of biblical verses that evoke the human capacity for repentance and the beneficence of divine forgiveness through the metaphor of casting sins into depths of the waters. This ceremony reinforces the theological bent of the morning services. Everyone is welcome to attend.

On Rosh Hashanah it is customary to dip an apple in honey and say the following: “May it be your will, Hashem, our God and God of all our ancestors, that you renew us for a good sweet year.”

What is Shabbat Shuvah?

The Sabbath between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is called Shabbat Shuvah, the Sabbath of Return, or Repentance, after a verse from the haftarah declaring “Return O Israel to the Lord, your God” (Hosea 14:2).

What Happens on Yom Kippur?

The transition to Yom Kippur begins the in the hours preceding the evening onset of the festival with the recitation of the first vidui, or communal confession of sins, at the afternoon service. Some Jews choose to go to the mikveh, or ritual bath, to purify themselves before the holiday. The striving toward inner purity is also reflected in the white outfits traditional for the day. In traditional congregations, men will don a white robe called a kittel over their holiday clothes. In some liberal congregation, both men and women might choose to wear white garments to symbolize this quest for spiritual purity.

Within the Ten Days of Repentance, Yom Kippur is the pinnacle of intensity, moving toward the decisive moment at its close when God is imagined as sealing the books of life and death. The day’s total focus on spiritual concerns is exemplified by fasting and abstaining from everyday activities such as bathing, sexual relations, and the wearing of leather shoes.

The liturgical day of Yom Kippur, known as the Sabbath of Sabbaths, begins with the Kol Nidre service immediately prior to sunset. The heartrending poems and prayers of the machzor, the prayer book used for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, which express the themes of repentance, human frailty, and humility before God combine with the nusah, or musical style of the service, to express the momentousness of the day.

Liturgical elements that distinguish the Yom Kippur services include a recounting of the Temple service on Yom Kippur, a description of the suffering of rabbis martyred by the Romans, and the reading of the Book of Jonah. 

The day closes with the Ne’ilah service, during which penitents pray before the open Ark, with one last chance to repent before the Book of Life is sealed. The very name of the service, Ne’ilah (locking) refers to the imagery that the gates of repentance, open during the High Holidays, are now shutting. A lengthy sounding of the shofar, called a tekiah gedolah, releases the Jew back into the realm of the everyday bolstered by a final echo of the call to repentance.

Fasting is held in high esteem by many religious traditions and health regimens. In the Jewish tradition, fasting is taken quite seriously. On a major Holy Day like Yom Kippur, those who fast do so because they believe fasting to be good for either the body or the spirit or both. The discomfort that is produced by fasting is thought to have instructional value and is intended to help us reflect on our human frailty (We are forbidden from fasting if our physical well being is endangered by it.)

Ne’ilah Honor

The Myron Samuelson Memorial Ne’ilah Honor is awarded yearly to a member of the congregation in recognition of his or her commitment of time and energy to Ohavi Zedek Synagogue. Deborah Lashman, a Burlington attorney, is this year’s recipient. Deb volunteered to co-host Shabbat services every week during the COVID crisis, and to co-host funerals, Torah Study, B’Mitzvah and other virtual OZ events. A member of the congregation since 2003, she celebrated her bat mitzvah here in 2005. She was the organizer of the Annual Chanukah Party for 10 years, and served on the Rabbinic Search Committee when Rabbi Amy was chosen. Deb is a former Vice President of the congregation and a longtime member of the Religious Committee and the Chevra Kadisha, where she serves as chair/organizer of the women’s Chevra Kadisha. Several years ago she taught K-2nd grade in Hebrew School, and she will be returning in the fall to teach 7th graders about the Sifrei Torah.

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