Observing Rosh Hashanah From Home? Here Are 14 Virtual Services You Can Attend

The chance to come together and celebrate Rosh Hashanah is just what many families are craving. But with novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases still increasing in parts of the US, and with the risk being particularly high for the elderly and those with underlying conditions, many families are observing the Jewish New Year virtually.

But that doesn't mean traditions have to go out the window. Many congregations have organized outdoor shofar blowings for families to experience from their cars or socially distanced from other patrons. Additionally, synagogues across the country have worked hard to develop virtual services that families and friends can participate in together from the safety of their homes. Some will be streamed live from empty synagogues and others prerecorded, also leaving a special opportunity to experience a service completely different than the one(s) in your local area. Another added benefit is that families who do not live close to each other can all attend the same service, something that might not have been possible in years past.

If you're looking for something familiar, it might be worth checking out your synagogue's website or Facebook and inquiring about virtual services. But, if you're still looking for a community to celebrate with, explore this list of virtual options. Services range from reform to humanistic, conservative, and orthodox Judaism, so there's sure to be something that feels right for each person.

Eastern Time

  • Central Synagogue (Reform): Located in Manhattan, all Central Synagogue's High Holiday services will be held virtually. You can find its full schedule with the link above.
  • Brooklyn Heights Synagogue (Progressive): As the name implies, this synagogue is located in Brooklyn, NY. It offers progressive services and values "the diverse ways members express their Jewish identities."
  • Kahal B'raira (Humanistic): Meaning "Community of Choice," Kahal B'raira follows the beliefs of humanistic Judaism. All of its Rosh Hashanah services will be virtual, but you need to register in advance. The congregation is based in Cambridge, MA.
  • Congregation Beth Adams (Humanistic): Congregation Beth Adams, based in Cincinnati, approach Judaism from a humanistic perspective. Services are lead by Rabi Robert Barr.
  • Congregation Ohev Shalom (Conservative): Congregation Ohev Shalom, of the greater Orlando, FL, area, is hosting virtual live streams starting at 7:30 p.m. on Friday. Additionally, it's offering separate Rosh Hashanah events via Zoom for Kindergarden-5th graders and later for 6th-12th graders on Saturday.
  • Hampton Synagogue (Orthodox): It can be hard to find a virtual orthodox service given the belief systems of this denomination of Judaism. However, Hampton Synagogue is broadcasting services through the Jewish Broadcasting Service.

Central Time

  • Chicago Sinai Congregation (Reform): This Chicago-based congregation will be offering all High Holiday services virtually this year so they're safe and accessible for everyone. The congregation is lead by Rabbi Seth Limmer.
  • Central Synagogue of Chicago (Conservative): Central Synagogue of Chicago is offering virtual services regardless of what each person can contribute. You'll have to register in advance, though.
  • Kol Hadash (Humanistic): Kol Hadash, a humanistic congregation in Illinois, is also offering donation-based tickets for its High Holiday Zoom services. The lowest rate is $18.

Mountain Time

  • Judaism Your Way (Unaffiliated): Judaism Your Way is an independent Jewish organization based out of Colorado offering free High Holiday services, although you need to register in advance.
  • Aspen Jewish Congregation (Reform): Aspen Jewish Congregation is offering limited in-person services for those in the area as well as streaming and Zoom-based gatherings. Registration is required for services on Zoom, though anything streamed can be accessed through its website.

Pacific Daylight Time

  • Shomrei Torah Synagogue (Conservative): Shomrei Torah Synagogue prioritizes teaching, challenging, and supporting its members in all aspects of life. Located in the San Fernando Valley in California, it offers some drive-through services in addition to live streams.
  • Congregation Beit T'Shuvah (Unaffiliated): Congregation Beit T'Shuvah in Culver City, CA, is offering fully virtual services through the High Holidays. It's asking for a suggested donation of $36 for tickets, though it has also adopted a pay-what-you-can structure.
  • Bet Chaverim (Reform): Bet Chaverim, a Washington-based congregation, is offering all services over Zoom. Those who aren't members can receive the Zoom link through inquiring on its website.