High Holy Days

Rosh HaShanah

Rosh HaShanah (“Head of the Year”) is observed on the first day of the month of Tishrei. It marks the beginning of the High Holy Days, which culminates on Yom Kippur. The customs and symbols of Rosh HaShanah reflect the holiday’s emphasis on both happiness and humility. On Rosh HaShanah, we sound the shofar, use round challah, and eat apples and honey for a sweet new year.

Selichot (“forgiveness”) is the candlelight service marking the Jewish week preceding Rosh HaShanah. Held after sundown on Saturday, this service begins our cheshbon nefesh (“accounting of the soul”) as part of t’shuvah (“return”) to our truest selves. We begin with dessert, Havdalah and a worship service; then close the evening in quiet reflection as the parokhet (ark curtain) and Torah covers are prepared for the coming High Holy Days.

Tashlich (“casting off”) is a symbolic dispersal of our errors to the winds and the sea, after we have begun the process of t’shuvah. Our Tashlich service is generally held along the flowing waters of the Snohomish River, but this year will be held at the lake of our retreat center on Rosh HaShanah afternoon.

Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur (“Day of Atonement”) is the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. In three separate passages, the Torah states, “the tenth day of the seventh month is the Day of Atonement. It shall be a sacred occasion for you: You shall practice self-denial.”(Leviticus 23:27). We fulfill this commandment by fasting, which also enables us to put aside our physical desires and to concentrate on our spiritual needs through prayer, repentance and self-improvement. It is customary in the days before Yom Kippur to seek out friends and family whom we have wronged and ask for their forgiveness.

The Shabbat Shuvah (“The Shabbat of Return”) Service, occurs on the Saturday between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and is considered to be a time of reflection leading up to the Day of Atonement.

Yom Kippur concludes with a Yizkor (“remembrance”) Memorial Service, where the names of members’ immediate family are read aloud.

High Holy Days 5782/2021

We are delighted to share the High Holy Days (HHD) with you. This year, services and programming will feature a combination of in-person and online experiences. Please note that once we receive your registration information, and as it gets closer to the High Holy Days, we will send Zoom links to all the services to registered participants. For security reasons, some of these are going to be specific to you. We ask that you do not share links with anyone else. There is no charge for services this year although donations are welcome.


Registration will take place online this year. All service registrations are due August 10. Non-members, including family of members not living in the same household, must register to receive Zoom links.  If you need a paper copy of registration forms, please contact the Temple office.  Please email office@templebethor.org or call the office (425-259-7125 x1) with any questions.

Services Available to Guests

Guests are invited to register for our online HHD experiences free of charge, but must do so in advance for security purposes. Guests are also welcome to register and attend our Rosh HaShanah Retreat with no registration fee. As we currently have limited capacity in our synagogue, in-person attendance for Yom Kippur services is limited to members. However, visiting and local immediate family members (non-members) may be able to attend Yom Kippur services, as space allows. 

Cost: There will be no cost for non-members to attend online High Holy Days services this year.  

COVID-19 Information

Many in the Temple Beth Or community have been working hard to get us back to in-person activities safely that will keep us all connected.

  • The congregation will begin to regather for in-person services with masking and social distancing required.
  • At this time, we are limiting attendance in the sanctuary to 55 people to ensure that we can achieve social distancing.
  • We will continue to use contact tracing protocols and have hand sanitizer readily available.
  • We will be asking health-related self-attestation questions upon entry.
  • Proof of vaccination will not be required at this time.
  • We will continue to update our protocols based on recommendations and guidelines from federal, state, and local authorities.

It should be noted that we will adjust these procedures as the COVID-19 situation evolves and/or as we learn lessons and reassess as we go.

Rosh Hashanah Retreat

We welcome members and guests of all ages to celebrate our New Year on Tuesday, September 7, 10am – 4pm. There will be parallel programming for our youth and children’s services. You are welcome to attend for all or part of the day. There are a number of activity options planned for adults and youth in the afternoon after Tashlich. One offering is a small group book discussion sponsored by our community’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force. The book chosen for small group discussions is Caste by Isabel Wilkerson. You are highly encouraged to read Caste, even if you cannot join us. Please note – only the 11:00 am worship service will be streamed.

Rosh HaShanah Lunch: Pre-ordered boxed lunches will be available to those attending the Rosh HaShanah Retreat. Selections include vegan, gluten free, and kids options. All orders must be paid for and placed with the TBO office no later than August 10. We will not be able to accept any orders after that date. Bringing your own lunch from home is also welcome. If you choose to bring your own lunch, please bring your own water bottle and/or beverage.

Tashlich: We’ll gather for Tashlich as part of the Rosh HaShanah Retreat. For those unable to join us in-person, we’ll provide do-it-your-self Tashlich resources along with your Rosh HaShanah bulletin.

Youth Programming:

  • Morning Youth Programming is for PreK (fully potty trained) through 7th grade aged children.
  • Babies and toddlers are welcome at all programming and will especially enjoy our afternoon Youth Service.
  • Our Youth Group Advisor will lead a special program for middle and high school students in the afternoon.
  • Please let us know the names and ages of children in your registration so we can plan ahead.

Location and a schedule of events will be provided to non-members following confirmed registration.

Supplemental Programming

Guests are welcome to attend our online supplemental program offerings this HHD. Although there is no registration deadline, signing up at least several days in advance of each event is preferred and will help our presenters prepare for their offerings. Register online at:  templebethor.org/hhd-supplemental.

Yizkor Service of Remembrance

Please contact the TBO office at office@templebethor.org if you would like to review, add a name, or make a change to your family’s Yizkor list. All names on your family’s list will be included. Names of immediate family members will be read aloud during the Yizkor Service. Deadline for adding/changing the printed list is August 10. The complete Yizkor list will be included in the Yom Kippur service bulletin.

Prayer Books

Temple members may borrow a set of HHD prayer books from the Temple free of charge. You MUST pre-order by filling out the appropriate section on the HHD Registration Form. Reservations must be received in the office no later than August 10.

Free flipbooks of the HHD prayer books are not available this year. You can buy Mishkan HaNefesh (RH and YK – 2 books) directly from the publisher (in Hardcover or Kindle versions). Mishkan HaNefesh e-books can be viewed on any device using the free Kindle app, which can be accessed in the link below. To order the hardcover edition for individuals at a 20% discount, use promo code MHN20 at checkout (expires Sept 15). This year’s link is:  https://www.ccarnet.org/publications/hhd-2021/#.


As the High Holy Days are a traditional time to make donations, may we suggest donations in support of Temple Beth Or Funds: the General Fund, Wexler Family Music Fund, Religious School Scholarship Fund, Torah Repair Fund, and/or the Tzedakah Fund which helps organizations and individuals in need. Many thanks to Eldon and Carolyn Wexler for establishing and seeding the Wexler Family Music Fund which helps support hiring a cantor to enhance our High Holy Days services. We have also included information for purchasing HHD bookplates in this booklet. These donation options, as well as bookplate information, are available on your registration form.


Help support Temple Beth Or by purchasing High Holy Days prayer book bookplates in memory of a loved one or in honor of a person, persons, or event. Please be as generous as possible as the funds raised will be used to meet the Temple’s greatest needs such as Torah repair. The suggested minimum donation is $36.00.

HHD Food Drive

In past years, Temple Beth Or members have given generously to the Volunteers of America Western Washington Food Bank during our High Holy Days Food Drive. The Social Action Committee is hoping this meaningful tradition can be continued. The need in our community continues to be great. Food banks appreciate all donations. However, donations of money or food store gift cards provide more support because food banks can then replenish their supply of exactly what they need. For this year’s HHD, we are encouraging monetary donations. As we prepare for our fast, please consider a monetary donation to the food bank to help those whose fast is neither voluntary nor symbolic.

If you are willing and able to donate this year to our High Holy Days Food Drive here are the options:

  • If you are attending in-person services, you can bring your monetary donation to Temple Beth Or and we can deliver it to the Food Bank. This could be a grocery store gift card or check made out to Volunteers of America Western Washington Food Bank.
  • You can donate online at: https://www.voaww.org/donate.
  • Mail a check or grocery store gift card to: Volunteers of America of Western Washington. Your donations are tax deductible.

Please also consider a donation to MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger. MAZON advocates for policies that help vulnerable populations and “channels support from the Jewish community to end hunger in every community — a recognition that struggle is universal, and that human connection runs deep.” More information is available on their website Mazon.org.