Samson Raphael Hirsch once said that “the Jewish calendar is the Jewish catechism,” – that it is the most cohesive summation of who we are, what we remember, and where we’re going. At Temple Emek Shalom, the holidays that hold the calendar together come to life: From the powerful and moving experience of the High Holy Days, to the array of classes and discussion available during our Tikkun Leyl Shavuot night of learning – we invite you to spend the holidays with us.
We have a particular focus on intergenerational celebrations where the students from our Shul School, families, and adults of all ages come together to learn, eat, dance, sing, pray, and create. Sometimes this happens all together and sometimes in “parallel play” configurations – where different kinds of programs are going on throughout the synagogue and we come together for a festive seudah (meal) before or after. There have been wonderful examples of this during the High Holy Days and Purim.
High Holy Days at Temple Emek Shalom include Selichot, two days of Rosh HaShanah services, Tashlich, Shabbat Shuvah, and Yom Kippur. We gather in our beloved sanctuary with leadership from many in our congregation. During Yom Kippur we offer a full range of afternoon offerings (in addition to the traditional morning, afternoon, and closing prayer services) including contemplative prayers with chanting and meditation, a healing service, a Jonah discussion, and Yizkor. We begin Rosh Hashanah with a sweet dessert potluck and end Yom Kippur with a festive Break the Fast meal.
We have a beautiful Sukkah in which we gather frequently during this festival. Our children at Shul School come together to decorate this sweet space, where we celebrate evenings of Sukkot together with songs, prayers and potluck meals.
For Simchat Torah, in the evening, we dance with our three Torah scrolls and then open up one, reading from the very end to the beginning. The next morning we gather for morning prayers and Yizkor.
Hanukkah is a most festive time at Temple Emek Shalom where we have one large gathering of prayers, candlelighting, music, stories, activities, contests, and a potluck that includes latkes and doughnuts for everyone.
We offer two separate Tu B’Shevat Seders, one in the Eat Pray Sing model geared towards families with children, and one more traditional seder lifting up the 4 worlds of being and connecting as seen by the kinds of fruits we eat and the ever darkening wine/juice we drink.
Purim is another festive holiday where we have a large communal gathering of costumes, reading a family-friendly Megillat Esther, activities, face painting, spirits tasting for the adults, and a potluck. Later in the evening we have a full Megillah reading (some in Hebrew, some in English) geared toward the adults.
Pesach/Passover is a special time where we come together for a large community Seder on the 2nd night of the holiday. This is a catered meal, often held at a local hotel, with presentations from the children as well as many adults as we explore this holiday’s meaning and ongoing relevance in our lives and the world today. We traditionally observe Yizkor on the Shabbat of Pesach.
Every year we gather for Yom HaShoah and then Yom HaAtzmaut, sometimes with neighboring congregations but also on our own, remembering, honoring, and sharing with songs and prayers.
For Shavuot we have a Tikkun Leyl Shavuot, a night of learning, where we explore different facets of Torah from many of the wise ones in our congregation (and drink espresso milk shakes!). We have second day morning prayer services with Yizkor, preceded by a blintz breakfast and rabbininc teaching.
For Tisha B’Av we gather, often with another community congregation, to commemorate the destruction of the Temple, to read Eicha, Lamentations, to be with our brokenness and also to pray for healing, wholeness, renewal, and rebuilding.
In this time of Zoom, our holiday celebrations have been digital. Please sign up to receive updates, or go to our calendar page.
We look forward to celebrating with you! All are welcome.