High Holiday Prep Checklist


During the long, sunny, warm days of summer, you may not be thinking about the High Holiday season. But you should be.

Although Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur may feel far away, we are approaching the month of Elul, the last month before the Jewish New Year. How do you, as a leader in your kehilla, prepare for the High Holidays? You probably send out ticket order forms and a Kol Nidre or Yahrzeit appeal letter. You make sure your building is ready. You fix and clean and shine the silver.

While you are probably an expert on High Holiday logistics, you also need to think about the relational needs of connecting with your community members. Below are some questions and ideas to think about to make sure that all of your congregants are welcomed, comfortable, and accommodated this High Holiday season.

  • Is the kehilla signage easy to find and read for everyone entering the building or grounds?
  • How can you make members that might not have been to the synagogue since last year feel welcomed and appreciated?
  • Will you hold a special training session for ushers and greeters or is everything scheduled and done “as usual?”
  • If you are using a new machzor since last year, is there anything printed to explain the change and what to look for in the new volume?
  • Are there plans in place for following up with new members or guests, or first-time participants after the holidays?
  • Are you calling members that haven’t yet signed up for the holidays to see how they are and to make sure that everything is okay?
  • Do you send out a note to everyone who requests High Holiday tickets thanking them for requesting seats and letting them know how much you are looking forward to greeting them at Rosh Hashanah?
  • Do you send out New Year’s cards or emails?
  • Does your kehilla make New Year’s calls to all your members? Is the list and script in place?
  • Do you give the clergy and leadership seating charts (where applicable) so that they can be sure to know who is sitting where?
  • Does your kehilla make a list of physicians who will be attending the services and where they will be sitting (where applicable) in case of emergency?
  • Have you arranged for a pre-holidays security walk through with the local police?
  • Will your members and guests leave the holiday services with some materials letting them know about programs and opportunities that they can participate in after the holidays?
  • Have you thought of other creative ideas such as small gift bags of apples and honey to give to older members, long-time members, new members, significant donors or active volunteers?
  • Have you considered including fun and educational programming for kids and teens?

High Holiday logistics are essential, but your goal should always be to ensure that your kehilla members feel even more connected and supportive of your sacred community when the season is over.

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