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Dear Members and Friends,

In Hebrew, the word for “crisis” is mashbeir, coming from the root “to shatter/to break”. Significantly, the word mashbeir in the Tanach also means “birthing chair”— from II Kings 19:3. This year we have a mashbeir— a crisis, and the birth of something new. We can certainly say that many things about High Holidays in the time of the crisis of Covid 19 are broken. Yet this year may well be the birth of the most unusual and the most creative, imaginative high holidays you will ever experience.

The Leadership Team and staff took all possibilities into account before arriving at this important decision: a hybrid experience combining live-streaming, Zoom, and outdoor spaces will be the best way to approach our communal holiday celebrations. Everyone’s health and safety is our first priority. What does that mean for an uplifting, community experience for us as Jews and members of a timeless community?

As early as May a special task force was formed to create for you the best High Holiday experience by stretching our imaginations, our willpower and our budget. Dozens of hours, phone calls and many Zoom meetings shaped our plans. No matter what happens or changes in September, we know we will be ready.

We acknowledge with honesty and a certain sadness the disruption of our usual spirited, large in-person services in our shul building. We will miss being together in the same room, and the casual interactions that make this annual reunion of our community so special. At  the same time, we are excited to invent and try new ideas, while also engaging people actively in their own home holiday observances.

To that end, if you are a member or join us for High Holidays Plus as a nonmember, watch your mailbox for very special resources coming soon to help you prepare your home and your heart for these experiences.

Throughout our long history as a people, our ability to adapt while holding on to what is most important accounts for our enduring vitality. We feel confident that City Shul will emerge this High Holidays as a source of inspiration, joy, meaning and community for you. 

Here’s what you can expect, subject of course to weather, Provincial rules, health and safety guidelines, etc.  Rabbi Goldstein, our City Shul Cantorial Team, and Nadia Oliveri our Director of Jewish Learning will be "with you" at different times over the course of these events. Times, details and links will  be sent to members who have renewed, and nonmembers who join High Holidays Plus, closer to the dates:

Erev Rosh Hashana: Zoom Rosh Hashana Seder, a community event for everyone. Followed by Zoom sharing of dinner for those who wish to stay online after the Seder.  

Rosh Hashana Day 1: Zoom Family Rosh Hashana Experience.

Rosh Hashana Day 1: Zoom morning Music—Meditation—Torah study event. Since shofar is not blown on Shabbat we will be doing something very unique: 

Rosh Hashana Day 1 PM:  Sundown Shofarpalooza: We come together at an outdoor event (livestreamed as well for those wishing to stay home) for a fantastic, festive sundown celebration with live shofar-blowing and surprises. 

Rosh Hashana Day 2: Backyard “minyans”of 10. Each backyard host will share the same short set of readings and a creative Tashlich ceremony created and sent by the Rabbi. Volunteers for backyard hosting now needed; email the Rabbi. Afternoon public, outdoor communal shofar blowing cosponsored by City Shul, First Narayever and Makom.  

Kol Nidre: A beautiful service with all our special tunes and sermon will be live-streamed from our sanctuary, for everyone to experience from the safety of their home.

Yom Kippur morning: Zoom service featuring our favourite, moving Yom Kippur tunes and prayers, Torah readings, dvar Torah and sermon. A separate afternoon Yizkor and Kaddish will be offered.

Yom Kippur day:  Zoom Family Experience

Yom Kippur afternoon: Zoom study sessions offered by congregants (volunteers now needed! Email the Rabbi) ; plus Yizkor and Kaddish: our yearly creative service of poetry and music, on zoom.

Neilah: Outdoor sundown celebration, live shofar blowing, and individual-yet-together break-the-fast. (Livestreamed as well for those wishing to stay home.)

All events subject to change.  We look forward to celebrating a unique and amazing City Shul High Holidays 2020 with you!

High Holiday services and programming are included with your City Shul membership. As we do every year, we sell tickets to High Holidays for non-members. This year we have created a special High Holidays Plus offering for them to purchase (or for you to purchase for them). For more information please email Casey

High Holidays Online, The Rabbi's Lament

A Message from the LT


For our online Shabbat service dates and times please click here 


All Event Info can be found here.

City Shul's Vision and Mission

Please go here to see our Vision and Mission!

Click here to read our anti-racism statement.

Meet City Shul: 

Downtown’s Reform Synagogue

Downtown. Spiritual. Community. Creative.
Welcoming. Warm. Intellectual. Musical. Inclusive. Finally!

These are the words we use to describe ourselves,
and the words others use to describe us.


Sat, 8 August 2020 18 Av 5780