None of us knew what to expect from the High Holy Days 2020 at Temple Beth Tikvah in Roswell, but everyone I spoke to commented on the extraordinary efforts of a few key players: Dave Shapiro and Ilene Alter, who prerecorded parts of the services, with Rabbi Alexandria Shuval-Weiner and Cantor Nancy Kassel creating a seamless presentation of worship, meditative nature scenes, and the community engaged in mitzvot.
The rabbi’s husband Jay Weiner said, “In a time where we feel very isolated, I think people were surprised by the power of the services.” He enjoyed seeing “the heart of the clergy,” clips of the choir and members participating from home with aliyot, readings, and past presidents virtually passing the Torah scrolls on Kol Nidre.
“I wouldn’t want it to be that way all of the time, but I think we should continue to stream live once we are all back together.”
One congregant, who asked not to be identified, said it was much better than expected and appreciated the gift of a temple tote bag delivered to congregants filled with candles, duck food for Tashlich, a guide to services, a world ball, honey sticks, sweet treats, HHD (High Holy Day) Bingo and a plastic shofar. Her frustrations involved technology glitches and disappointment at not being able to pray together in person.
Several people mentioned how much the choir enhanced the already beautiful services, whether singing from their homes or masked and shielded at safe distances around the sanctuary.
The plexiglass enclosures around the rabbi and cantor allowed them to speak and chant, unmasked, within their spaces.
My daughter Sascha Balan said, “Even though security at the temple is a high priority, it was especially nice not to have to worry about that for temples everywhere during these holy days.”
Our family thoroughly enjoyed services. We were comfortable, little ones vocalized and moved around freely, everyone had a front row seat. It was as if the rabbi spoke directly to us. The imagery of nature shown during periods of reflection enhanced our meditation and prayer. The afternoon Zoom study sessions were meaningful.
Sadly, in the late afternoon of Yom Kippur, Cantor Kassel was called away, having received word that her mother Valerie Cohen Kassel, age 95, had passed. But how powerful it was that, while we held their family in our prayers, the cantor’s pre-recorded voice carried us through the melodies of the Neilah service.
- Terry Segal
- High Holidays
- Dave Shapiro
- Ilene Alter
- Rabbi Alexandria Shuval-Weiner
- Cantor Nancy Kassel
- High Holy Days
- temple beth tikvah
- Ilene Adler
- Rabbi Alexandria Shavul-Weiner
- Cantor Nancy Kessel
- Jay Weiner
- Kol Nidre
- Sascha Balan
- Yom Kippur
- Neilah service