The continuing COVID-19 pandemic has changed worship this year for people of all faiths, and as the Jewish High Holidays begin this week, local Jewish communities are adapting services to keep their members safe.
The Seacoast Chabad Jewish Center will hold Rosh Hashanah services in person, but the services this weekend will be in a tent in the rabbi’s backyard, instead of at the center.
The center will hold a 20-minute outdoor Rosh Hashanah service open to everyone on Sunday, Sept. 20, in addition to its regular services for members.
The public service will begin at 4:30 p.m. at Durham Landing. The 20-minute service will include the sounding of the shofar and a short sermon. Masks will be required, and attendees will have to stay 6 feet apart.
“Seacoast Chabad Jewish Center has always prioritized making Judaism available to all,” Rabbi Berel Slavaticki said in a news release. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, this has taken on a whole new meaning, but our mission to serve everyone remains the same.”
Chabad co-director Rochy Slavaticki said the center wanted to “lower the barriers of entry” as much as possible, to make it easy for anyone to participate in the services.
“This year, that means bringing a Rosh Hashanah service to a location where people can safely participate and making it free of charge as many in our community are hurting financially now,” Rochy Slavaticki said.
The center is also helping people celebrate away from the center, with Rosh Hashanah-at-Home” kits for people who do not feel safe leaving their homes to attend services.
The kits will include a holiday guide, a Yizkor candle, Challah, and traditional Rosh Hashanah treats including honey cake and honey sticks.
Chabad of New Hampshire in Manchester will offer a take-out Rosh Hashanah dinner this year.
Etz Hayim Synagogue in Derry will hold High Holidays services on Zoom.
The Zoom services are open to everyone, including non-members. Anyone who wants to participate can get a Zoom link from the synagogue office by emailing email@example.com or calling 432-0004.
Separate Zoom links will be available for other services including Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Simchat Torah in the coming weeks.