High Holidays 5782 (2021)

Click here to view our schedule for 5782 (2021).

Please see this important High Holiday information, sent to our congregation on August 25, 2021

The 5782 High Holidays are around the corner, and we look forward to observing these holy days with you. This year, we will be able to gather together in person in ways that were not possible last year. At the same time, we continue to uphold our tradition of pikuah nefesh, the preservation of life, in creating plans for the holidays that prioritize health and safety.

To keep our community safe while ensuring a meaningful and uplifting experience, here are the four most important guidelines that we ask everyone to follow for in-person services:

  • Everyone who is eligible to be vaccinated must be fully vaccinated to attend
  • Everyone over age 2 must wear a mask at all times in the building
  • Everyone should maintain physical distance by observing marked off rows, leaving space between your household or pod and others when seated, and not gathering in the hallways
  • Please do not attend if you or members of your household are sick

Please find below responses to some of the most Frequently Asked Questions we receive about this year’s holidays. 

Our 5782 ritual plans are robust and responsive to the ever-changing environment. Many have been involved in working toward developing a plan for the High Holidays, including Rabbi Crane, Cantor Roytman, our lay leadership, dedicated staff, and the COVID-19 Task Force. We appreciate your cooperation, patience, and flexibility and look forward to welcoming in a sweet new year with you. 


Rabbi Nate Crane

Cantor Pavel Roytman

Keri Bahar, President

Jay Goldstein, Executive Vice President

Cynthia Lerner, Ritual Vice President

Michael Kahn, Executive Director

COVID-19 Task Force


Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur 5782 Frequently Asked Questions

In-Person Services 

Will we be able to attend any/all BHBE High Holiday services in person? Yes! There is no pre-registration for individual services – anyone with a high holiday ticket who follows our guidelines may attend any service. 

Will there be a family service? Absolutely! Aaron Frankel will be leading our junior congregation/family service, which will be held outdoors.

Will there be families with young children programming? Yes! Gail Eisenberg is returning to lead our tot High Holiday services, which will be held outdoors.


COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement

Is there a vaccine requirement to attend BHBE High Holiday services in person? Yes, a vaccine is required. We will require everyone attending in-person services and who is eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine to be fully vaccinated. This means that everyone ages 12 years and older must be 2 weeks past their final vaccine dose to attend in-person high holiday services, whether indoors or outdoors.

What about children? As children under age 12 are not currently eligible for any COVID-19 vaccines, we will only be requiring evidence of vaccination for individuals ages 12 and older. Children may join their vaccinated families in the main services or participate in family and youth services. 

Can I show my evidence of vaccination in advance? Yes, you may have your proof of vaccination on record with our office. To provide your vaccine record to the office at BHBE, please scan or take a picture of your vaccination card or other evidence of vaccination (such as a screenshot from the Illinois VaxVerify system or your healthcare provider or pharmacy’s portal) and email it to jackie.ernest@bhbe.org. We will then mark you as vaccinated in our system for all future events.

How will you know I am vaccinated when I come to High Holiday services? If you have shown us your evidence of vaccination in advance, we will have you marked in our system so that you only need to provide your name at the door. If you have not previously shown us evidence of vaccination, please bring your vaccine card or a printed copy of your vaccine record (not on your phone) to in-person services. Staff will mark you down as vaccinated in a halakhically permissible manner.

I don’t know how to take a photo of my vaccine record or I don’t want to email my vaccine record; what should I do? If you are unable to take a photo, scan, or screenshot of your vaccine record or if you prefer not to email it to our office, but you would still like it filed in our system, the BHBE staff can help! Come to the BHBE office Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, (August 31st – September 2nd) between 9:00am and 3:00pm. During these times, staff can verify your vaccine record and mark you as vaccinated in our system.

What if I am not yet fully vaccinated? We strongly encourage members to get vaccinated against COVID-19. To find a vaccination site near you, please visit http://vaccines.gov, text your zip code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233. Until you are fully vaccinated, we hope you will join us virtually, as we continue to stream all our services.


COVID-19 Safety Precautions

Will in-person service attendees have to wear a mask? Yes, everyone over the age of 2 attending in-person services will be required to wear a mask at all times. Please wear a high quality mask and wear it properly, over both your nose and mouth.

May I take off my mask? Will anyone else be unmasked? No, please keep your mask on during the entire time in the building, even if you have an honor. The only people who will be removing their masks during the service will be the Rabbi, Cantor, and soloist Julia Smulson, who are all fully vaccinated and who will be testing for COVID-19 at home frequently throughout the holidays.

How will seating work? Will there be social distancing? We will be setting up seating in the Sanctuary and Spak Auditorium as we have done in the past. This will allow us to use the full space and have more socially distanced seating. Please observe marked off rows and leave four empty seats between your household and others.

What about gathering and greeting friends? We know meeting and greeting friends and community members is part of what makes the holidays so special! To keep the hallways and rotunda free of crowding, we ask that people only gather outside the building. Please also respect others’ personal space and preferences around shaking hands, hugging, or kissing.  

Will services be held outdoors? Our family and young children’s services will be held outdoors, as will Tashlikh. Our main High Holiday services will be indoors.

What about hand hygiene? For your convenience, hand sanitizer is available throughout the building and soap is available in all bathrooms. You are encouraged to keep your hands clean and respect others’ preferences around shaking hands.

What if I feel sick or have symptoms? If you or a member of your household does not feel well or has any cold or flu-like symptoms, please stay home! We ask everyone to take any symptoms seriously, even if you are fully vaccinated. Our services will be streamed to ensure you can participate and have a meaningful experience from home.


Ritual Participation

If I have an honor, will there be social distancing? Yes. For greater social distancing, aliyot and other readings will occur from a lectern on the floor. Gabbaim, Torah readers, and Haftorah readers will remain on the bima. 

Will there be a choir? Yes, our BHBE choir will be participating in services this year. As is required of everyone in attendance, all members of the choir are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and will be wearing masks at all times, including while singing.

Will we hear the Shofar? Yes we will sound the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah Day I, Day II, and at the conclusion of Yom Kippur. As is required of everyone in attendance, all individuals sounding the shofar are fully vaccinated. Additionally, the shofar will be sounded standing outside the sanctuary in the Sukkah area. According to CJLS guidance, one can also fulfill their obligation of hearing the Shofar over our live stream.

Will the Kohanim come on the bima to perform birkat kohanim? No, to minimize exposure risk, the Cantor will be reciting the birkat kohanim on behalf of the kohanim this year.

Will there be other changes to the services? To minimize exposure for those in attendance, we will make slight modifications to the High Holiday services, such as not having a Torah processional or recessional. All modifications will be within the appropriate halakhic framework, in accordance with the CJLS’ High Holiday guidance.

Will we come together for Tashlikh? We will offer our usual service the afternoon of Rosh Hashanah Day I with Rabbi Crane and Cantor Roytman. In-person tashlikh service will be held  at the Keay Nature Center (corner of Skokie and Hibbard). 


Online Participation

Will BHBE stream High Holiday services? Yes, all of our High Holiday services will be streamed live without pre-recordings. Everyone will be able to access BHBE High Holiday services by computer, tablet, or other smart devices. Because of restrictions on the use of electronics on Shabbat and Yom Tov, everyone will only be in observation mode. To access the stream, visit www.bhbe.org and scroll to “Live Stream.”

Will I be able to access a prayer book to use from home? Yes. We will be using the Mahzor Lev Shalem prayer book. If you have renewed your BHBE membership for the 2021-2022 year or joined as a new individual/family, you and your family members may borrow a Mahzor Lev Shalem, which can be picked up from BHBE Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, (August 31st – September 2nd) between 9:00am and 3:00pm and return it the week of Monday, September 20th. 



Could plans for the High Holidays change last minute? Unfortunately, yes. This is the nature of the pandemic. We continue to monitor the Delta variant and public health guidance to assess if changes are needed. 

What if I have other questions and concerns that were not addressed here? For questions about aspects of prayer, ritual, or halakhah, contact Rabbi Crane or Cantor Roytman; for questions on membership, streaming, and vaccine verification, contact Michael Kahn; for questions about the decisions we are making in light of the pandemic, contact Keri Bahar.