Qabbalat Shabbat: Friday, 6:00 p.m. Torah Study: Saturday, 9:00-11:00 a.m. Weekday Minyan: 6:15 p.m.

High Holy Days

Celebrate the 5777 High Holy Days with Temple Israel

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A Colorful Array of Services...

Our worship services are inviting, fulfilling, comforting, joyous, and filled with music. We come from many places; our memories span the globe and many religious streams. We are creating Jewish experiences that embrace our heritage as they acknowledge the spiritual hunger and search for God in contemporary society. Come pray with us. Add to the sound of our voices. Together, we make a joyful noise.

At Temple Israel, we follow the tradition of Reform Judaism, observing all festivals. Our services are open to innovation and strike a harmonious chord with tradition. We hope our services reflect the joy that Judaism can bring to one’s life, and at the same time be an opportunity for self-reflection and reaching out to the community.

The Orange, Yellow, and Silver Services are Temple Israel’s High Holy Day services in the sanctuary. The majesty of the traditional High Holy Day liturgy will be enhanced by the beautiful accompaniment of a professional string quartet and the poetry of our machzor Mishkan HaNefesh.

"TI is blessed with learned and inspirational clergy. We had the good fortune at last year's Yom Kippur Orange service to hear Rabbi Zecher ask "what are we willing to be wounded for in the name of repairing the world?" Fresh back from a march from Selma to D.C. for voters' rights and racial justice, Rabbi Zecher transfixed us with the significance of symbols and both the relevance and responsibility of being "chosen." It was the first time we found out the distinction between gumption and chutzpah, the latter being the "willingness to show moral grandeur and spiritual audacity, even rightful indignation for the sake of justice and kindness." Repairing this world and country seem more urgent that ever. We know Rabbi Zecher's perspective and wisdom will help pave the way."  

Susan Edgman-Levitan & Richard Levitan,
Orange Service Reflection

Bring your whole self to our creative, experimental Purple Service. Services are held “in the round,” creating a greater sense of intimacy and community. Traditional and contemporary music are interwoven with congregational singing. Meditation, poetry, and interactive conversation are interspersed throughout the liturgy. Our musical prayer and liturgy will be accompanied by the TI Band, and we will use our machzor, Mishkan HaNefesh, as an integral part of the experience.

"This was the instruction as we entered for the afternoon service: on the small red index card on our seat write down a transgression and then place it beside the Torah scroll, laid open in a symbol of vulnerability. Lining up to lay these offerings of human frailty on the altar felt unexpectedly--breathtakingly--powerful. Likewise, the power of standing for Neilah, chairs pushed back, closing the spaces between us so we could feel each others’ physical presence and our spiritual place within this community. This is what I appreciate most about the purple service, the creative ways in which the clergy rethinks each aspect of the service to uncover new meaning and the brave willingness of the participants to open themselves to it. Does it always work for me? No. But, maybe it works for the person next to me. And maybe the next word, the next song, the next newly-interpreted action will touch me in a way this service never has before. There is comfort in repetition--of the seasonal melodies, of liturgy so familiar I can recite it with the prayer book closed. But changing up our expectations offers a new entry point and the possibility of finding new meaning."  

Ellen Steinbaum,
Purple Service Reflection

Join us in the Blue Service if you are looking for a participatory service designed for families with children ages 7 to 13. This service also contains a sermon or story geared to the age group. On Erev Rosh Hashanah, the Blue Service will be from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. followed by delicious New Year treats. If you have your own shofar or can borrow one, please bring it to the Rosh Hashanah morning service. On Kol Nidre, the service will begin at 6:15 p.m. We do not recommend the Blue Service for children under the age of 7, and encourage you to take children 6 and under to the Rainbow Service.

"We have attended the Blue Service as a family for the past several years. It is a perfect experience for young children and families. The liturgy is designed for kids using a “home grown” siddur specifically for families and the music and fun keeps everyone engaged. We usually sit together as a family but often our kids find friends from religious school to sit with. It is a very interactive service that gets everyone involved: from passing the Torah through the entire congregation to the Rabbis and Cantor getting input from parents or kids during the “sermon”. The sermon time itself has never felt like a traditional sermon. It is always appropriate for kids but the themes and message always hit home for families. We have enjoyed the Blue Service as a way to share the High Holidays together as a family."  

Jen Weber & Laurence Bailen,
Blue Service Reflection

Join us on the mornings of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur at 8:45 a.m. Wayne Potash and the TI rabbis will lead services designed for young children and their families. The services will be followed by activities, art projects, music, and movement. The Rainbow Service is from 5:30 – 6:00 p.m. on Erev Rosh Hashanah and 5:00 – 5:30 p.m. on Kol Nidre and includes fun singing, storytelling and a chance to connect with other families with young children. Every family with children under the age of 6 will automatically receive a complimentary rainbow ticket in the ticket mailing at the end of the summer.

HHD 5777 SCHEDULE for web


September 24

A beautiful and inspiring experience awaits you to usher in the Days of Awe. The evening begins at 8:00 p.m. in the garden or downstairs depending on the weather as we enjoy one another’s company and partake of some refreshments.

At 9:00 p.m., we will have a brief text study of our Congregation Read, This Is Real And You Are Completely Unprepared with each of our rabbis sharing an inspiring, thought provoking passage to help inform our intention as we move closer toward the Days of Awe.

At 10:00 p.m., a unique opportunity to usher in the High Holy Days takes place. Candles light up the atrium and their flickering flames reflect off of the glass ceiling. Harmonious voices resonate throughout the hall. The Torah scrolls are brought forward as their velvet coverings are changed into the white adornment for the holidays.

This year, we will preview a special prayer book that is part of a new liturgy for Selichot created by two of the editors of our High Holy Day prayer book, Mishkan HaNefesh, Rabbis Janet and Shelly Marder. Their work is a complement to our machzor. Enchanting music, time for reflection, moments of introspection, and the presence of one another will create an inspiring

Congregational Read

This Is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared

Our Jewish ancestors knew that a person cannot just show up on Yom Kippur and be ready for teshuva, repentance, and spiritual transformation. So before the Hebrew month of Tishrei, and the Days of Awe, the rabbis designated the month of Elul as a month for spiritual preparation. Just as we train before an athletic event or prepare before a huge presentation, we have the opportunity to ready our inner lives for the High Holy Days. This year, we recommend to you an insightful book entitled, This Is Real And You Are Completely Unprepared. Drawing on both his rabbinical training and his scholarship in Buddhism, Rabbi Alan Lew leads readers on a journey through Elul and into the Days of Awe. Lew writes:

Every soul needs to express itself. Every heart needs to crack itself open. Every one of us needs to move from anger to healing, from denial to consciousness, from boredom to renewal. These needs did not arise yesterday. They are among the most ancient of human yearnings, and they are fully expressed in the pageantry and ritual of the Days of Awe, in the great journey we make between Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur.

We invite you to buy or borrow this book and read it throughout the High Holy Day season beginning on Tisha B’av (August 13-14). The book is structured to be read throughout the season, with a different reading for each Torah portion during the month of Elul and every day during the Ten Days of Awe. Here are some ways we will explore our Congregational Read together:

Shabbat Discussion Groups
We will be using four Shabbatot of Elul (September 2, 9, 23, 30) at Qabbalat Shabbat in September to lift up some of its themes and ideas. For those who would like to further the conversation, each rabbi will take a turn leading a discussion group after services.

On Selichot, the clergy will be using this book as a foundation for our learning and reflections. We will be sharing sections that will be meaningful to those who are reading the book and accessible to those who have not read the book.

Yom Kippur Afternoon Discussion Groups
Spend an hour together with other Temple Israel members who have read the book to discuss the section on Yom Kippur.

This Is Real…Blog
How have you reacted to reading this book? What are some of your thoughts? Write them down and send them to us so that we can post them on a blog dedicated to reactions and insights on our Congregational Read.

Erev Rosh Hashanah

Sunday, October 2

Throughout the 5777 High Holy Days you will have many opportunities to choose from a variety of worship experiences and settings. However, on Erev Rosh Hashanah, we invite you to join the Temple Israel community in a communal entrance to the High Holy Day season. Joined by the full Temple Israel clergy team, we combine the Purple, Yellow, Orange, and Silver services in the Sanctuary beginning at 7:45 p.m. to welcome the New Year. After the family services end, and before the adult services begin, we will have the opportunity to have hors d’oeuvres with friends and family. After the adult service, you may linger for a glass of wine and a petit dessert.


Monday, October 3

On Rosh Hashanah, rather than ending the services in our seats, we go across the street to the Muddy River for the experience of Tashlich. The Tashlich service, a brief ritual which allows us to cast our transgressions literally and figuratively into the river, will follow each of the late services. The last group leaves at approximately 2:15 p.m.

Extending the Joy of Rosh Hashanah

Tuesday, October 4

Everyone interested in observing the second day of Rosh Hashanah is welcome to attend a service on Tuesday, October 4. Temple Israel members, family, and friends are invited to join a service led by a TI member with prayer, music, and discussion. The service will be held at 10:00 a.m. followed by a dairy/vegetarian pot-luck lunch. No tickets are required and everyone is welcome. Please contact Melissa Carp for more information at 617-566-3960 or


October 16-18

Sunday, October 16
9:30 a.m. Family Sukkot Experience
6:30 p.m. Enter our Sukkah of Justice and Compassion. This year, we will begin the observance in full recognition of the sukkah as a symbol of our moral obligation to construct a society of shelter, safety, and nourishment for all humanity. Our sukkah will be set up in the Atrium, under the stars, as a communal space for the congregation to eat, learn, spend time together, and prepare for a year of tikkun olam (repairing of the world).

Monday, October 17
10:00 a.m. Children’s Sukkot Program
10:00 a.m. Festival Service with Study Session
Tuesday, October 18
6:00 p.m. Riverway Project Sukkot Harvest Celebration (20’s & 30’s)

Simchat Torah

October 23 & 24

Sunday, October 23
5:00 p.m. Yizkor Service
5:00 – 6:00 p.m. Torah and Tonics: A Learning Opportunity for Adults;
5th – 7th and Teens Program; Children’s Programming for 0-4 year olds & K-4th grade
5:30 – 6:00 p.m. Consecration Service
6:00 – 6:45 p.m. Festival Service for all in the Sanctuary, followed by dancing with the Torah and a live Klezmer band on Nessel Way.

Monday, October 24
10:00 a.m. Children’s Program
10:00 a.m. Festival Service with Study Session

Machzor Book Plate

We are excited about the Reform Movement’s High Holy Day machzor, Mishkan HaNefesh for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The new machzors are the result of collaboration among rabbis, cantors, lay leaders, and members of Reform congregations. A machzor for the present and the future needs to balance tradition and inspiration.

Last year we established a Mishkan HaNefesh Book Fund. We ask that you consider dedicating a book plate, in the amount of $72, to be placed in the front of our beautiful siddurim to remember or honor a loved one, teacher, or friend.

Download Book Plate Order Form PDF

Yizkor Memorial Book

Our Yizkor Memorial Book is a treasured tradition at Temple Israel. It is distributed at the Yizkor Service in lieu of reading aloud the names of those whom we wish to remember. The Memorial Book automatically includes the names of Temple Israel members who have passed away since last Yom Kippur and those who have memorial plaques in the Memorial Alcove or on the Memorial Menorah.


The membership has expressed its desire to follow the Temple Israel bylaws, which requires tickets for admission. Please help us ensure that your tickets are for your use only. Tickets will provide you with seating in a particular color service. All forms are due back by September 2, 2016, and tickets will be mailed in early September. 

We are pleased to offer complimentary tickets to military personnel and full-time students. Temple Israel members may purchase extra tickets for family members at a cost of $118 for each extra ticket.

Download Extra Ticket Request Form PDF

We offer non-members tickets for $180 each. This is a wonderful opportunity for any of your friends who are looking to try Temple Israel for the High Holy Days and to get to know the Temple Israel family. For anyone who joins during the year, membership dues will be credited with the total price of the tickets. This is only applicable to those who have never been Temple Israel members in the past and is only good for one year.

Download Non-Member Ticket Form PDF

The Riverway Project offers a free service for those in their 20’s and 30’s led by Rabbi Gubitz. Pre-registration required.

Be An Ambassador

It takes a minimum of 70 volunteer ambassadors to make sure that the High Holy Days schedule runs smoothly. We will train you. All you really need is a welcoming smile and a friendly demeanor. As an ambassador, you will still be able to worship with your family. Please let us know that we can count on you. Contact Traci Laichter to volunteer (, 617-566-3960).


We will be offering babysitting for children up to age 10 during High Holy Day services. The licensed provider is, and a nominal fee will include child care, a nut-free snack, and fun activities. Limited space available, so please register online.

What will you do between the Yom Kippur morning and afternoon services?

Wednesday, October 12, 2:00 - 2:45 p.m.

The High Holy Days often stir up many questions, and our rabbis are here to offer their insight and contemplations. Bring your thoughts about what resonates most with you in our machzor.

Prepare for the afternoon service through text study led by Rabbi Jen Gubitz. Meet other members of the Riverway Project’s community as we delve, together, into texts.

Between the morning and afternoon services of Yom Kippur, the ark in the Sanctuary will be left open. During that time, please enter this space in silence and stand before the ark with your own private thoughts. Take as much time as you need and then please exit in silence. For security reasons an ambassador will be stationed there to assist anyone who may need help.

Stop by the library to meditate on texts written by poets, scholars and mystics in our extended community.

Please feel free to enjoy a quiet moment by the Muddy River, accessed by crossing the Riverway at the Winsor School.

BODY, BREATH, SPIRIT: Connecting to Jewish Meditation and Connecting Jewishly to Meditation. For first-timers or experienced meditators—we will explore some techniques to relax the body, focus the mind, and open the heart. Led by Roger Gottlieb.

CHESHBON HA’TEENAGE NEFESH: An Accounting of the Teenage Soul. Calling all teens grades 8-12. This is a time just for you.