High Holy Days

All Are Welcome (No Tickets!)

Since its founding in 1985, Bet Ha’am has committed to being a house of worship where all feel welcome. We invite you to join us for any Bet Ha’am service or event, including High Holy Day worship. There is no charge to join us and no tickets. We hope that you–Jewish or non-Jewish, Mainer or guest visiting from away–will join us at this time of community celebration.

This year, we are presenting all of our services online. Please register here before September 16. We will send service links one or two days before services to people who are registered.

We rely on volunteer and financial support from all to ensure the strength of our synagogue community. We anticipate that those who join us for High Holy Day services, for whatever reason, will recognize the importance of supporting our community so that we are here in future years. Our membership is based on the ability to pay, so that everyone can afford to join. If you are not ready to join, there will be an option to make a donation when you register for services, or you may send your support to the Rabbi’s Discretionary Fund or our annual fund.

We usher in the High Holy Days with a congregant-led contemplative service, featuring readings, music, and meditation. This prerecorded service will be made available on September 12 at 5:00 PM.

Our service leaders write, “We will join in carefully selected Selichot prayers, melodies, psalms, and poetry—including new pieces generously offered by notable women rabbis and poets. Our readings and drashes will illuminate the origins of our prayers. We will gain a clearer understanding of the connections between our history and our holidays. We will gain insight into a template set by our mystical tradition’s creation story—one of error and shattering followed by rectification and repair. We will sink into two guided meditations: one to access a sense of lovingkindness, and one to review the ways we may have missed the mark in the year that is ending and prepare ourselves to ask for forgiveness and to offer it. Please join us.”

Each year, we offer three services to mark the start of the Jewish New Year: An evening service for the start of the holiday, then a family and a traditional service on Rosh Hashanah day. 

This year, Erev Rosh Hashanah will be on September 18 at 7:30 PM. Rosh Hashanah Children’s Service will be September 19 at 8:30 AM. Rosh Hashanah worship will be September 19 at 10:30 AM.

We are pleased this year to present two programs on the second day of Rosh Hashanah: A family program at 9:00 AM and a teen program at 5:00 PM. These programs will be geared to children in our religious school, but please feel free to contact Sam Spinrad, our religious school director, at sam @ bethaam.org, if you would like more information.

This solemn day begins with Kol Nidre. We hold both a family and traditional service in the morning, and continue our worship in the afternoon with a service for meditation and healing, study sessions, Yizkor, and Neilah. We break-the-fast with a community potluck.

Kol Nidre will be observed September 27 at 7:30 PM. Yom Kippur Children’s Services will be September 28 at 8:30 AM. Yom Kippur services will be September 28 at 10:30 AM.

In the afternoon of Yom Kippur, we will have a prerecorded healing and meditation service at 12:30 PM, a study session at 2:30 PM, and a Yizkor and Neilah service at 4:30 PM.

We celebrate this fall festival in our the congregation’s sukkah (temporary shelter), which is decorated by the religious school children. This year, our sukkah will be available on a drop-in basis. Fulfill the mitzvah of eating something larger than an olive in a sukkah and bring a decoration to share. Our booth will be up by October 2.

Erev Simchat Torah and Consecration take place a week after Sukkot. For the Simchat Torah service, we read the end of the Torah and the beginning, then dance to the music of the Casco Bay Tummlers. At the end of the evening, children who are new to the religious school are blessed for the start of their religious education. Join us this year for an online performance by the Tummlers on Friday, October 9 at 6:00 PM. The service will conclude with a Kaddish minyan.

Support Bet Ha’am’s Annual Food Drive! This year, in light of our current COVID-19 restrictions, we are sponsoring our annual food drive by donations of cash rather than donations of food. While we are sad not to collect actual food, writing a check for the amount you would have spent on food donations maximizes the impact of your gift: For the same amount of money, agencies can buy up to eight times the amount of food you can purchase by yourself.
Please donate online or make your checks payable to Bet Ha’am and write “food drive” on the memo line. After Yom Kippur, we will divide the donations evenly between these organizations:
  • South Portland Food Cupboard
  • Project FEED at Woodford Congregational Church
  • Jewish Family Services Pantry
  • MAZON: The Jewish Response to Hunger

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