For the first time in a decade, I didn’t lead High Holy Day services, and I am grateful for the new experiences that emerged.
ROSH HASHANAH: My family went to Sag Harbor where a friend is the rabbi at Temple Adas Israel – Long Island’s oldest synagogue. The congregation was founded by watchcase factory workers, and according to legend, their first Torah was donated by Theodore Roosevelt. We were greeted with such warmth upon entering the building, which resembled a one-room schoolhouse in New England.
For me, the tangible rituals really anchored the day: baking round challah and sweet kugel with my daughter, and holding my son as he held his ears in anticipation of the shofar blasts. He knew that the size of the instrument does not necessarily predict the volume of the call. For Tashlich, we were all barefoot at the beach, collecting stones and throwing them into the sea.
YOM KIPPUR: My husband and I spent the day with Lab/Shul - "an artist-driven, everybody-friendly, God-optional, pop up, experimental community." Services took place at Hammerstein Ballroom, and included amazing music, bold liturgical choices, and a live art installation in the center of the seating area. It reminded me of watching Buddhist monks create a mandala.
Whether I was in a historic space or with a cutting edge community, the days felt sacred – distinct from ordinary weekdays in multiple, moving ways. But getting there wasn’t so easy. We needed to plan ahead, show up somewhere new, and then be open to whatever unfolded.
WHAT I LEARNED: I felt acutely aware how difficult it can be to make holy days truly feel special and resonant AND how important these holy days are. When we step out of our daily routine, that’s when we make memories with our families, when our relationships deepen, and when we discover new aspects of ourselves.
And that’s exactly why Sanctuary exists – to create sacred time and space set apart from our busy lives and dedicated to reflection and connection. We're guided by Jewish wisdom and rhythms, and by the realities of modern life.
We really hope you can be part of our opening weekend on October 25th & 26th: Friday Yoga, Shabbat Dinner, or the Family Gathering. Be sure to sign up by this Sunday - use links in the yellow box below. Then we'll show up somewhere new together!
Looking forward to seeing you soon, Rabbi Bethie Miller