Beginning with a month-long series of Elul events, members of Temple Israel Portsmouth celebrated a High Holiday season like no other in a wide variety of venues. Congregants and friends gathered in the temple courtyard for yoga, at the African Buying Ground Memorial for an interfaith S’lichot service, in the parking lot for “Drive-thru Shofar-blowing,” at four different bodies of water for Tashlich, and online for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services. Since the building was mostly closed, volunteers assembled and delivered gift bags containing items to support an Erev Rosh Hashanah Seder at home.
Adding “Multimedia Production Coordinator” to their clerical duties, Rabba Kaya Stern-Kaufman and Cantorial Soloist Kochava Munro planned services which included members of the congregation participating live via Zoom or in pre-recorded sessions. A choir of voices sang Alvina Malkeinu in wonderful harmony; individuals shared their heartfelt wishes for the new year from their homes, gardens, and balconies. Volunteers drove to people’s houses to bring them the sound of the shofar.
As Board President Amy Hyett observed, while it’s easy to divide this year into before and after, “The ‘after’ is full of challenges and also opportunities.” This year, many members were able to participate fully in the services, where in times past, ill health or distance might have prevented their attendance. Others had difficulty with the technology, struggled with “Zoom fatigue” and flocked to outdoor prayer services. A common conclusion: Being prevented from gathering in person, in the historic sanctuary that has sheltered generations, reminds us all not to take for granted that precious opportunity.
Missed part of the High Holidays? View our services or read through these resources.
Rabba Kaya Stern-Kaufman takes congregants through a tour of the Torah Scroll as part of the Simchat Torah celebration, October, 2020.
Following the Tour of the Scroll, Rabba Kaya joined with musical guests Lisa Jane Lipkin and Jay Hitt to offer A Musical Revue of Torah, a community concert and sing-along that paired favorite Torah stories with contemporary songs.
Complete song list:
Creation- What a Wonderful World (Bob Thiele and George David Weiss)
Flood Song- A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall (Bob Dylan)
Brothers – Get Together (Come on People Now, The Youngbloods)
Exodus – Freedom Oh Freedom (Gospel)
Pharaoh – King George (Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton)
Tabernacle- Sanctuary Song (Appalachian folk tune)
All of Me (jazz standard)
Many Rivers to Cross (Jimmy Cliff)
Korah- Ring of Fire (Johnny Cash)
One Love Heart – Ode to shma (Bob Marley)
Golden Slumbers- Carry that Weight- And in the End (Beatles)