Approximately 2000 years ago, after the destruction of the second Temple, Judaism traded animal sacrifice for prayer in one of its most significant adaptations over the millenia. By making this considerable change to its worship rituals, Judaism thus survived.
Today, we are living in a time when we must make significant changes to our current rituals in order to worship together while adhering to the doctrine of pikuach nefesh, which is the principle in Jewish law that the preservation of human life overrides virtually any other religious rule.
Houses of worship have been identified as being very high risk with regard to the spread of Covid-19, due in large part to the dangers of singing, which has been shown to produce the type of exhaled droplets that travel far and lodge themselves in the lungs with great efficiency.
And for good measure, as the High Holidays approach, shofar-blowing is suspected of being even more efficient at spreading exhaled droplets than singing! This conclusion comes from a study of vuvuzelas [the plastic horns from the 2010 World Cup in South Africa], which were found to “propel extremely large numbers of aerosols” that can lodge deep inside the lung.
So what do we do during this year of the coronavirus as the fall holidays approach? We do what Jews have always done over the years – adapt our religious practice to meet the moment in which we find ourselves.
The moral of the story, of course, is that we will be unable to gather in person in our lovely new High Holiday space inside Newton City Hall this year. 😦 But we will gather online, and our services will remain both beautiful and moving. 🙂
Whereas Ahava’s Shabbat Live or Later services are live streams that can be watched whenever is convenient, our High Holiday worship will take place over Zoom, enabling congregational participation. Services will be somewhat abbreviated from Ahava’s norm to allow for zoom fatigue. In addition, children’s services will not be held this year.
Services are open to all. As usual, there is no charge, but donations are gratefully accepted. Simply register and you will be sent Ahava’s zoom access links prior to the holidays.
You may REGISTER HERE for Ahava’s High Holiday services.
Rosh Hashanah Schedule:
Morning Service Saturday, September 19 10a – 11:30a
Open Shofar Day Sunday, September 20 10a – 3p
Yom Kippur Schedule:
Kol Nidre Sunday, September 27 7p – 8:15p
Morning Service Monday, September 28 10a – 11:30a
Yizkor (memorial) Service Monday, September 28 12NOON – 12:45p
If you have lost a loved one and would like his/her/their name read aloud during the Yizkor service, please email your loved one’s name to email@example.com and indicate correct pronunciation. Thank you!