Open Temple

Preparing for the High Holy Days in Pandemic Times

Preparing for the High Holy Days in Pandemic Times

From the article:

Although most non-Orthodox synagogues have made the decision to go completely virtual, Open Temple’s Rabbi Lori Shapiro told the Journal she plans to stream the High Holy Days services via her outdoor services, which will be held in the Venice synagogue’s parking lot.

In the run-up to the High Holy Days, Open Temple is holding multiple events based on this year’s theme: the American Wanderer. Shapiro plans to have a CrossFit Selichot shvitz, “where one sweats it out through liturgy,” and Elul Shabbat socially distant bike rides. Come the High Holy Days, services will have learning opportunities that touch on trauma, loss, activism, justice and faith, and a family tashlich “protest”  — “because there is a lot to protest this year,” — Shapiro said, adding that the protest will start at Open Temple and end at the beach.  

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The outdoor High Holy Days services will be “strictly choreographed,” Shapiro assured, so people feel safe and comfortable. Open Temple will transform the parking lot by creating artificial grass pods for families to sit in. Everyone will have lawn chairs and umbrellas and personal protective equipment, while the clergy and musicians will be behind plexiglass. All tickets for the services must be signed up for in advance to monitor capacity. Services will be condensed, so Shapiro said she is keeping the “greatest hits” to ensure all important concepts are covered. For those watching on the livestream, congregants will be able to interact with Shapiro in real time thanks to a social media influencer who will be relaying comments from the feed to her so she can acknowledge them during the services.

“The High Holy Days this year, we are creating, all of us together, in a social distance way, a holy temple community,” Shapiro said. “It is a time for rebuilding. It’s a time for connecting, it’s a time of emerging into this real unknown and the world as we know it is transformed. Never being the same again is the essence of what the High Holy Days are. They ask of us to become totally transformed.”

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