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High Holidays 2020



Dear CSI Families,

I hope this finds you and your family well. These past five months have been very trying on us all as we pray for a resolution to this pandemic. May it come, bimheira v'yameinu, speedily and in our days.

I know that for many of you the synagogue has been a source of support and strength during difficult times, this being no exception. While the building is now partially open, outside of religious services our programs are being held on the CSI farm or on Zoom. I am profoundly thankful to all of our talented congregants who have helped us make the month of Elul truly a month of preparation for the High Holidays. For information on our ongoing Elul programs, you can find them in the August bulletin here.

Our High Holiday services will of course be different, though, we hope, quite fulfilling in their own way. Here is what they will look like.

Please note: All of our High Holiday services will also be live streamed. Please let me know if you do not know how to connect to our services via the live stream and someone can be sent to give you assistance.

Rosh HaShanah:

Rosh HaShanah begins Friday night September 18. We will hold our traditional evening service at 6:30 pm in the sanctuary.

Morning services will begin at 9:00 am (in the past they have begun at 8:45 am) and will be shortened. We will begin after the morning blessings and preliminary service. While no essential parts of the service will be left out, many non-essential parts will not be recited. Please note: Cantor Shiovitz will be making a recording of many of the familiar piyutim (liturgical prayer-poetry) some of which we won't be doing this year, and they are posted on our website here.

The rest of the service will proceed normally with the exception of the repetition of the Amidah, which will not be done this year. Parts of the Amidah will be recited out loud in place of the repetition. The same will be true for the concluding musaf service. The Torah and haftarah readings will proceed as usual, with people making blessings over the Torah away from the Bima so that there is no more than one person on the Bima at a time. In other years we have taken great pride in our teenagers reading on the holidays. Sadly, we won't be able to hear them this year. Each day will have only one Torah reader, so as to minimize contact. 

Shofar service: The shofar is not sounded on the first day because it is Shabbat. We will have two opportunities on Sunday for those who wish to hear the shofar live. For the safety of all in attendance on Sunday morning, the person sounding the shofar will be standing outside, with the shofar pointed away from the congregation. We will not follow our usual custom of inviting any children present to stand with the ba'al tekiah (shofar blower). We will have a family Tashlich and shofar service on the farm Sunday afternoon at 4:00 pm Sunday (see below).

Family services: We will be having a Family Service on both days of Rosh HaShanah. Services will begin at 4:00 pm. On Saturday Cantor Shiovitz will lead a virtual Family Service on Zoom that highlights the most important and musical parts of the service. On Sunday we will gather together for an outdoor shofar service along with Tashlich (yes the farm will have a gathering of water we can use).

Yom Kippur:

Yom Kippur begins Sunday night September 27 with Kol Nidre services at 6:30 pm. This year there will be no volunteer choir and the service will also leave out parts in order to shorten it. Normally the Cantor, Clare Rosen (the President of CSI) and I greet each person after services. We will not be doing that this year.

Yom Kippur day: Services will begin at 9:30 am (in other years they begin at 9:00 am), and similar to Rosh HaShanah, in order to shorten the service we will begin after the preliminary service and have no repetition of the amidah. As on Rosh HaShanah, the Torah and haftarah will be read as normal. We will leave out certain parts of musaf, such as the Avodah service recounting Yom Kippur in the Temple in Jerusalem. Unfortunately I will not be leading our traditional afternoon study. Next year!

The closing services, beginning with mincha at 4:30 pm, will be for the most part as usual, with one exception. Over the years people have lined up during the repetition of the amida for the N'eila service in order to have a few moments alone facing our open Ark and Sifre Torah, and then to wish a mazal tov to the person honored with the pesichah n'eila/Ark opening honor. This year we will not be able to do that. However, any family or individual who wishes a few minutes before the open Ark may do so during the afternoon break when no one else is there. There will of course be no community break-fast, a beautiful custom I look forward to returning to next year.

The reason for shortening the services whenever possible is to both give those in attendance less time for personal exposure to others, and in recognition that it is difficult for anyone who is not at services in person to stare at a screen for too many hours.

In order to ensure the health and safety of all of our members, clergy and staff, anyone who wishes to attend services must let us know by completing this online form. See instructions below.

Whether you will attend all of our services, or only one, the same seats will be reserved for you and any family or guests throughout all the holidays. No one else will be able to sit in those seats or use the machzor associated with it. Each family or individual will be at least 6 feet away from their closest neighbor. Please note that, weather permitting, the walls of the sanctuary will remain up during all of our services and that special air filters have also been installed.

As we approach the High Holidays there are certainly some of you wondering whether continuing your membership at a synagogue is worthwhile this year. I would submit that this is a year when being a member of Congregation Sons of Israel is more important than at any other time. Not because it is important that you support the Jewish community you are a part of (though that certainly is of great importance), but because being a part of a 3000 year old tradition helps anchor us in a world that often seems out of control. The comfort, compassion and relationships that come with being a synagogue member are an important part of our lives, especially this year. We hope you will join us, whether in person or on a screen, and continue to help CSI be the wonderful community it has been for over 125 years.

I wish all of you ketivah v'chatimah tovah, to be inscribed and sealed for a good, sweet and HEALTHY New Year.

Rabbi Kane

High Holiday Signup

Click here for the High Holiday Signup form or see instructions below.

You may reserve space in the synagogue for your family and guests and/or request Mahzors for use at home.  Even if you don't need either, please consider using the form to make a donation to cover all or part of you usual High Holiday seats, guest tickets, and parking donation.

In order to provide necessary information for participation, you will need to be logged into your CSI account on the web site. When you visit the signup form and are not logged on, you will see a login page.

If you have not yet set up your CSI account, please start by going to the CSI website. You will see Login pulldown on the upper right hand corner of the screen. Put in your email address. click "forgot password" and proceed by following the prompts. It's a little counterintuitive, but that's the way the program was designed!

Click on the link in your email and set your password and then you are all set for the signup form.

Additionally, you can read our CSI Community Portal Instructions for detailed instructions on what you have access to when you are logged on.

PLEASE NOTE: The back of each ticket will have a waiver which each attendee must check off before entry to each service. Covid-19 rules and procedures are in place for the safety of all who participate. There are no exceptions to these rules which have been set to meet or exceed NYS guidelines.


Fri, September 25 2020 7 Tishrei 5781