HomeSeptember 2018High Holy Day Happenings

High Holy Day Happenings

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By Ilene Schneider

The High Holy Days are a time to reflect, a time to forgive, a time to repent and a time to connect. They give everyone a chance to think back on the past year and make plans to improve in the future. We realize that we are part of something much bigger than ourselves, and we do that with the help of our community.

While Orange County synagogues will hold services from Selichot to Simchat Torah, every Jewish day school will explain the meaning of the holidays to the students and every other Jewish organization in the community will acknowledge the holidays in some way, Jlife Extra has asked synagogues and organizations to relate something unusual or special that is happening for the holidays. We hope our readers will find new places to go, new options for finding meaning in the holidays and new ways to observe time-honored traditions.

challah bakeBaking Bread

On Wednesday, September 5, at 7 pm, the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project (JWRP) invites women in the community to a pre-Rosh Hashanah Challah Bake at Beth Jacob Congregation of Irvine, 3900 Michelson Drive, Irvine. Participants need to sign up by September 3 and bring a 5-pound bag of flour.

According to Natalie Ciner, rebbitzen at Beth Jacob and coordinator of the Orange County JWRP group, “The time of the High Holy Days is a time for community involvement and strength. There is a beautiful teaching that to ensure a good year, one should involve oneself in community and be sure to positively affect others. The OC BJI – JWRP Community Group is all about building community. It is about bringing Jewish women together from all backgrounds and all affiliations. Challah baking is a unique mitzvah and opportunity for women. We therefore could not think of any better time than before Rosh Hashanah to get together to perform this special mitzvah at this auspicious time.”

For more information, call (949) 786-5230 or sign up at

Family Unity

Some synagogues hold special services for children. Others have family services that bring generations together. At Congregation B’nai Israel there is a 70-minute family service designed to engage all generations. It has the High Holy Day themes of tzedakah, tefillah and t’shuvah with contemporary context, music and shofar blowing.

According to Carl Cedar, who is leading the service, “One of my earliest memories from childhood is sitting in shul with my father (z”l), twirling his tzitzit around my fingers and drawing Magen Davids with my pinkie in the plush of his velvet tallis bag. But nothing was more profound than looking up and hearing him singing his heart out in prayer. There is no more powerful transmission of our culture and way of life than the modeling that parents and grandparents do for their children and grandchildren.”

For more information, call (714) 730-9693 or visit

Tashlich and More

TVT Community Day School offers a hands-on, learn-by-doing approach to the High Holy Days. There are tashlich services in the lower school “Jordan River” after Rosh Hashanah. The school also has sorry-o-gram booths open for business during the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur with sorry-o-grams being distributed on Erev Yom Kippur.

“Students can take the initiative and learn what forgiveness means,” said Rabbi Stuart Light, director of Jewish Studies at TVT, which is located in Irvine.

bubbeMaking More Memories

For more information, call (949) 509-9500 or visit

Twenty years ago, Rabbi Haim Asa, of blessed memory, flew to Israel and returned with a Sefer Torah from Meah Shearim. Seventeen years ago, a family member, Marcia Schwartz, a realtor, bid on a house for Bubbe & Zayde’s Place that had a built-in Ark in its theater room. Theater seats were delivered, and Bubbe & Zayde’s Place had its own chapel. Dedicated members of Temple Beth Sholom provide services on Shabbat and the holidays. Rabbi Elie Spitz of Congregation B’nai Israel came and blew the shofar from room to room for the residents. Administrator Shimon Cagan also acts as a Baal Tekiah.

“On the High Holy Days, at Bubbe & Zayde’s, we have the freedom, the leadership and the staff to help us realize the dreams of an aged population,” said Bubbe & Zayde’s founder, Bonnie Curkin. “We believe that people with no memory issues, mild memory issues and severe memory issues appreciate the chance to hear the chanting and participate in the holiday celebrations.”

For more information, call Bubbe & Zayde’s at (714) 928-5030.


Schmoozing and Voting

Temple Beth El of South Orange County, 2A Liberty, Aliso Viejo, offers a variety of worship options, including Reform, Conservative, abbreviated and children’s services throughout the High Holy Days. Of special note is the Apples/Challah/Honey/Schmoozing after the Rosh Hashanah morning service and a “Get out the Vote Initiative” by the congregation’s committee, Jewish Justice Advocates.

According to Temple Beth El, “Our unique congregation is affiliated with both the Conservative and Reform movements, and while we offer separate Reform and Conservative services, we ALL come together over apples, honey and challah (regardless of our affiliation). In addition, this year, a Temple committee, the Jewish Justice Advocates, is also bringing a non-partisan opportunity to register to vote, during the apples/honey/challah event… because voting is a Jewish value!”

To learn more, call (949) 362-3999 or visit

Choices for All

Chabad Jewish Center of Mission Viejo, 24041 Marguerite Pkwy, Mission Viejo, believing that one size does not fit all, offers three types of High Holy Day service options to meet a variety of needs. A short, interactive learners service is designed for beginners. The family High Holy Day experience is for families, children, adults and anyone just looking for an uplifting High Holy Day experience. For those comfortable with the full, meaningful traditional service , there is a full schedule of services. There is also a youth service for children and young adults.

“CJC has designed its services with you and your family in mind,” explained Rabbi Zalman Marcus. “Our goal is simple; provide Jewish people a comfortable place where they can connect and celebrate their Jewish heritage and tradition with meaning, inspiration and education.”

For details, call (949) 770-1270 or visit

Something for Everyone

The Jewish Collaborative of Orange County has something for everyone – traditional services, stimulating discussions, hikes and more. Programs and services are for people of all ages. Erev Rosh Hashanah services will be held at Temple Isaiah of Newport Beach, 2401 Irvine Avenue, Newport Beach, and services for both days of Rosh Hashanah and all of Yom Kippur will be held at St. Mark Presbyterian Church, 2200 San Joaquin Hills Road, Newport Beach.

“Whether you love (mostly) traditional services or prefer to participate in engaging discussion, healing and wholeness workshops, family services, text study, expressive movement or even a New Year’s hike, come build your own High Holy Day Experience with us,” said Rabbi-Cantor Marcia Tilchin.

For more information, email or call (949) 402-8004.

Free and User-Friendly

Chabad Center for Jewish Life will hold High Holy Day services, for which no admission is charged, primarily aimed at unaffiliated Jewish families residing in Orange County. According to Rabbi Reuven Mintz of the Jewish Center, “Many families don’t attend services, because the synagogue environment is foreign to them. There is a need to reach out and ensure that they too are welcomed to services on these holiest days of the Jewish year.

Services are designed in a user-friendly manner, making the experience educational, enjoyable and meaningful for both the novice and the expert, the rabbi said. The services follow traditional customs blended with contemporary messages and are interspersed with modern tunes and English readings. The rabbi uses a lot of English and stops and explains ideas, interspersing inspiring words with humor and warmth. There will be an interactive children’s program. Services will be held at the Hyatt Regency, 1107 Jamboree Road, Newport Beach.

For more information about High Holidays and services and to reserve seats, please visit or call (949) 721-9800.

Dessert and More

Following Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Temple Beth David, 6100 Hefley Street, Westminster will hold a Sukkot Open House on Friday, September 28. The service begins at 7:30 pm, under the stars, and the Oneg Shabbat is under the Sukkah, featuring delicious desserts. On Saturday, September 29, at 10:30 am, there will be a Tot Shabbat in the Sukkah. Concluding the High Holy Days on Sunday September 30, at 7 pm, the Simchat Torah service will give everybody a chance to dance with the Torah and enjoy an ice cream social after the service.

“The congregation is egalitarian, warm and caring and open to all who want Judaism as part of their lives,” said Rabbi Nancy Myers.

To learn more, call (714) 892-6623 or visit

Generation to Generation

As summer turns into fall, Jews think about the deeds that they have done and the commitment to repentance. The overarching metaphor for this period is that the divine books of life and death lie open, waiting for an inscription for each person. Over the centuries, the custom of visiting parents’ and ancestors’ graves, perhaps to see ourselves in a larger context, is an act of reconciliation of our present and past.

In Orange County this tradition is called “Kever Avot” — “The Graves of our Ancestors.” It is organized by the Orange County Board of Rabbis in conjunction with Harbor Lawn-Mt. Olive Memorial Park and Mortuary, which contains the oldest Jewish burial site in the county. A special memorial service for the community will be held at Harbor Lawn on Sunday, September 16, at 11 am. For more information, contact the memorial park at (714) 540-5554.


Jlife wants to know what’s happening in your synagogue, school or organization. This is your community, your magazine and your space. Please contact me at or (949) 433-6862, so we can get the word out about your special, meaningful and unusual events.

L’Shanah Tovah to all!

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