High Holy Days:
a Feast of the Spirit

Come home for the High Holy Days and join Temple Hillel B’nai Torah (HBT) as we observe Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur. In our unique Reconstructionist services, Rabbi Barbara Penzner serves as cantor as well as rabbi, leading us in uplifting song. During the Holy Days our building buzzes with activity intended to bring reflection and renewal to our otherwise busy lives. We offer programming for children of all ages, and during the break on Yom Kippur afternoon there are opportunities for yoga, meditation and discussion.

For those new to HBT, please use this link to let us know you will be joining us for High Holy Days services. HBT supports the principles of Avodah, Torah, Havurah and Tikkun Olam and our temple reflects the passionate commitment and diverse nature of our membership which is welcoming to the LGBTQ community, multi-racial families and interfaith couples. If you have any questions, please call the Temple Office at 617-323-0486.

High Holy Days Schedule

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SELICHOT: Preparing for the High Holy Days

Saturday, September 21st, 8:00 - 10:00pm
at Temple Hillel B’nai Torah

We enter into the spirit of the Yamim Noraim, the Days of Awe, with this program focusing on the theme of teshuvah, “turning/returning.” Beginning with Havdallah, dessert and schmoozing, we will then have a “Moth”-style storytelling program, with stories of moments of “turning” and forgiveness, and an opportunity for participants to share their own story. We’ll close the evening with music of the High Holydays season and time for personal reflection and meditation.

ROSH HASHANAH:  Welcoming the New Year 5780

Our services offer food for the heart and mind, filled with music and based on traditional Hebrew prayers (with poetic translations), using the innovative Renew Our Days machzor (prayer book for the High Holy Days).


Erev Rosh Hashanah:

Sunday, September 29th

6:30 - 7:30 pm Welcoming the holiday led by, Rich Moche and Stephanie Sher with Rabbi Penzner’s story

First Day of Rosh Hashanah:

Monday, September 30th

Main Sanctuary Service - 9:30 - 1:30pm

Morning Service - 9:30am led by Rafael Galva

Torah Service - 10:30am
Rabbi's Sermon - 11:15am

Rabbi’s Story & Shofar - 11:45am

Musaf - 12:15pm led by Forbes Graham

Children Service - 3rd-7th grade, Led by, Education Director Hillary Pinsker
10:15 - 11:40pm,  Chapel

Teen Ritual - 8th - 12th grade, Facilitated by Rev. Tracy Rich
At this time of introspection, what does it mean that you are a young Jewish adult? Through this ritual, we will explore this idea through talking, listening, playing, and learning from nature.

Tashlich, Rosh Hashanah:  Monday, September 30th

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5:00pm, Meet by the boat launch at Millenium Park off VFW Parkway in West Roxbury
Tashlich is the custom of symbolically releasing our transgressions by casting bread crumbs into a moving body of water, to help us throw off that which holds us back from complete teshuvah. Bring your family, your friends, your dogs, a few bread crumbs, and enjoy the ritual and the fresh air by the Charles River.

Second Day of Rosh Hashanah: Tuesday, October 1st

Main Sanctuary Service
9:30 - 1:00pm, Sanctuary

Shabbat Shuvah / Shabbat: Saturday, October 12th
connecting Rosh Hashana to Yom Kippur

10:00  – 12:30pm
On this special Shabbat between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we include prayers and melodies from the High Holy Days and encourage introspection on the themes of the High Holy Days.

YOM KIPPUR: The Day of Atonement

One day a year we devote to reviewing our lives: where we have been, where we are, and charting a course for where we want to go. In our congregation we follow the tradition to dress entirely in white during Yom Kippur. Many refrain from wearing leather, especially leather shoes. In body and mind we seek ways to return to our Source and be renewed. Be sure to join us for the closing of Yom Kippur for Neilah and the final Shofar blasts.

Kol Nidre, Evening Service: Tuesday, October 8th

6:00 - 8:30pm (Doors will close from 6:15-6:30pm for the Kol Nidre prayer), Sanctuary
Kol Nidre, the prayer of release from vows, is traditionally said before sunset. We will start the service promptly at 6pm; please plan to arrive a few minutes early.  This is the one service of the entire year when a tallit (prayer shawl) is worn in the evening. Bring your own tallit or use one provided by the congregation. We will put the tallit on together as a community at the start of the service. Lev Mamuya will play cello. We close the doors to provide more focus on the haunting Kol Nidre prayer, which is sung through three times as the temple leaders hold the white Torah scrolls. Judith Levine, Temple President, will reflect on the temple community in the past year and invite you to support our unique congregation. Susannah Sirkin will offer reflections while the Rabbi chants the evening service. The Rabbi's sermon takes place at the heart of the evening service.

Yom Kippur Day: Wednesday, October 9th

Main Sanctuary Service
9:30 - 1:30pm
Bruce Mallory will give the Personal Offering, a personal expression of the meaning of the day, and Musaf will be led by Scott Lipman along with Rabbi Penzner.

Families with Young Children Service - preschool-2nd grade
10:30 - 11:55am

Children  Service, children - 3rd-7th grade
10:15 - 11:55pm

Teen Ritual - 8th-12th grade
12:00 - 12:45pm

Rabbi's story
12:00 - 12:15pm

Nurturing body and soul

1:45 - 2:40pm, Chair yoga, Chapel
Stretch your body and soul in yoga with certified yoga instructor Laurie Rotman. No experience necessary. Bring/wear comfortable clothing for yoga.

2:45 - 3:40pm, Discussion with the Tikkun Olam committee, Chapel

3:45 - 4:40pm, Meditation, Chapel
Join is in a guided meditation experience with Christer Larsson for deepened reflection, rejuvenated inspiration, and creative stimulation.

Yizkor and Mincha: Memorial Prayer and afternoon service

4:30 - 7:00pm, Sanctuary
4:30pm - Yizkor with Shelley Stevens is the quiet, intimate gathering with others who have suffered losses, either recently or long ago. Mincha includes the Torah reading from Leviticus 19 (The Holiness Code) and features the reading of the powerful Book of Jonah,introduced by David Brenner.

Families with Young Children Break Fast

5:30pm, Families with Young Children in preschool-2nd grade, older siblings welcome, Knopf Social Hall
Gather with other families with young children to break the Yom Kippur fast with a dairy-only pot luck meal.

Ne’ilah Closing Service

6:00-7:15pm, Sanctuary
Ne’ilah, “the closing of the gates” is the dramatic finale of the day. We sing our hearts out as we seek one last chance for our hearts to open in prayer and for our prayers to be received with compassion. Everyone is invited to come stand on the bimah and offer private prayers before the open ark.


 6:45pm, Sanctuary
All ages crowd in the sanctuary to end the day with the rituals of Havdalah, followed by a communal shofar-blowing. Bring your own shofar if you have one!

Communal Break-fast

7:00pm, Knopf Social Hall
Join us at HBT or at Member homes in various neighborhoods for potluck break-fast meals. Both venues are great opportunities to meet temple members and neighbors. Check with the office to see who is hosting in your area or if you would like to host a break-fast: 617-323-0486 or hbtoffice@templehbt.org.