Rosh Chodesh Elul | Rosh Hashanah | Yom Kippur | Selichot | Shabbat Shuvah | Sukkot | Shemini Atzeret | Simchat | Chanukah | Tu Bishvat | Purim | Passover | Yom HaShoah | Yom HaAtzmaut | Shavuot | Tisha B’Av
Rosh Chodesh Elul – on the Promenade at the Montague Street Entrance.
Join Senior Rabbi Serge Lippe and Rabbi Molly Kane to welcome in the month of Elul. All are invited to meet at the intersection of Montague Street and the Promenade for this brief service that concludes with the sounding of the Shofar.
The Hebrew month of Elul (which immedisty precedes Rosh Hashanah) is a month of reflection, spiritual contemplation, and preparation for the High Holy Days and the opportunity for renewal that the New Year brings. This service marks the beginning of this preparatory period.
High Holy Days (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur)
To accommodate all those who choose to worship with us during the High Holy Days, Rosh Hashanah (first day) and Yom Kippur services are held at the historic and welcoming Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims at 75 Hicks Street in Brooklyn Heights. All other worship services are held in our sanctuary at 131 Remsen Street. Tickets for services held at Plymouth can be purchased through the membership office. All services held at our own building on the High Holy Days and throughout the year are open to all without fee.
All members are encouraged to volunteer as Torah and Haftarah chanters for the various High Holy Day services, including Shemini Atzeret, Simchat Torah, and Sukkot. We welcome the participation of all shofar blowers on Rosh Hashanah morning for children’s services and at Neilah, the community closing services at the end of Yom Kippur. Each year, the Rabbi invites several individuals to share reflections on their own spiritual journeys during Yom Kippur worship services, a unique feature of our holiday observances.
The Saturday evening preceding Rosh Hashanah is referred to as Selichot – penitences. On this evening we set the mood and tone for the coming Days of Awe. We begin with the beautiful, spiritual and musical ceremony of Havdalah – the ritual that marks the end of Shabbat and the beginning of the work week. We take time for a short nosh and then our program continues with the Selichot service, which introduces us to the melodies and prayers of the season and we change the mantles of our torah scrolls from blues and crimson to symbolic white mantles of the season. We conclude with the sounding of the shofar.
We begin our observance of Rosh Hashanah with evening services in the beautiful, quiet sanctuary at Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims, our neighbors in Brooklyn Heights. On the first morning, we again gather for worship at Plymouth, where we also offer a full morning of Youth Services and Activities for all school age children. Childcare is provided for a modest fee, for the very youngest children, by reservation. When morning services conclude, we walk together to Fulton Ferry Landing, where we say the brief Tashlich prayers and send our transgressions out into the waters of the East River in the form of bread crumbs happily crumbled by our children during morning activities.
High Holy Day activities continue in the afternoon at our own Sanctuary at 131 Remsen Street with our Service for Families with Young Children, open to the community.
Later in the day, those observing the second day of Rosh Hashanah gather for the evening service in our own Sanctuary, and gather again the next day, for second day Rosh Hashanah morning services.
We hold a traditional a cappella service on the Friday evening of Shabbat Shuvah, the Sabbath of Repentance, that falls between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. On Shabbat morning, we chant from the Torah and hear the special Haftarah for this special Sabbath. Services are followed by a brown-bag lunch and study session led by the Rabbi on a text appropriate for the season of repentance and renewal.
Kol Nidre, the Yom Kippur Evening Service brings us back to the sanctuary of Plymouth Church. We also gather there for the the following morning, afternoon, and early evening services. Our Youth Services and activities for school age children run concurrently with Yom Kippur Morning Service at Plymouth. Following the morning service, a lay-led study session is offered before we resume with Afternoon, Yizkor, and Neilah (closing) Services. Our Yom Kippur concludes with a light communal Break the Fast; all are welcome but reservations are required and there is a nominal fee.
On the afternoon of Yom Kippur, Rabbi Lippe returns to our own Sanctuary at 131 Remsen Street to lead our Service for Families with Young Children, open to the community.
Yom Kippur Reflections from Members of the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue
A special feature of our Yom Kippur services is our own oral tradition. Each year, four or five members of the community talk about their own Spiritual Journeys, for just a few minutes each. These moments, often moving and always interesting, add a special personal warmth to the difficult Day of Atonement. We have published a collection of these Journeys; we offer them as a gift for members and additional copies can be purchased for $18 each through our office.
All are welcome to participate in building and decorating our Sukkah, a joyous annual event. Taking a meal each day in a Sukkah is one of the most significant observances of the seven-day festival of Sukkot. Throughout the holiday members of the community are invited to bring a bag breakfast, lunch, or dinner and eat on our front-landing.
We celebrate the Consecration of our newest Religious School at this service, geared especially for younger children and their families. Kindergartners and all our other new students in grades 1 through 3 will receive their own paper Torah scroll, a certificate marking the beginning of their religious education, and special blessings from the Rabbi and their parents.
Simchat Torah Celebration
We close down Remsen Street, chant Torah from our front porch, and dance to our live Klezmer band in celebration of Simchat Torah. Many of our congregants, and especially many of our recent b’nai mitzvah, chant from Deuteronomy and Genesis. Everyone receives an aliyah.
We prepare for the Festival of The [Re-]Dedication of the Temple with many special activities for members and children and friends of all ages. We also hold an annual Preschool Chanukah Book and Gift Fair at which our Marion Cohen Gift Shop also sells dreidels, gelt and LOTS of wonderful Chanukah gifts!
The 15th of the month of Sh’vat is the New Year of the Trees, which celebrates the impending arrival of Spring in Israel and the early blooming of almond and other trees. Members of the BHS community are encouraged to participate in the community-wide Tu Bishvat seder that is held most years and rotates through the Brownstone Brooklyn synagogue community. On years when the evening of Tu Bishvat coincides with the evening of Shabbat, our Friday evening Shabbat service is followed by a congregational Tu Bishvat seder in our own social space. We enjoy produce from the Land of Israel and distribute parsley seeds to plant for use in the upcoming Passover seder. JNF Tree Planting forms are also available throughout this season, which has become in recent years a Jewish moment for consciousness about our use and abuse of the planet Earth.
Megillah Reading and Shpiel
Members of our community chant from the Megillah of Esther. Join in as we drown out “You-Know-Who’s” name with our groggers. Stay for our annual Purim Shpiel, designed for older children, teens, and every fun-loving adult member of the congregation. To chant or volunteer to be part of the Shpiel, be in touch with the Rabbi.
Mishloach Manot (Shalach Manos)
Purim Food Baskets are part of our annual Purim celebration. With a small donation, your good wishes and good taste are distributed to your favorite friends or to the entire congregational community.
Tot Megillah Reading and Purim Carnival
On the Sunday morning before of after Purim, our Parenting Center sponsors a quick, wonderful, noisy Megillah reading for families with young children. Awards for all youngster who arrive in costume! It’s followed by a Purim Carnival with games, crafts, pony rides, cotton candy, hamantaschen, face painting, and more, staffed by our own teens as well as parents from the Religious School and Preschool. The Purim Carnival Committee is always looking for new volunteers.
We hold festival services on the first morning of Passover complete with Hallel, Torah and Haftarah chanting.
We celebrate the full Festival of the Seventh Day of Passover, when according to tradition our ancestors crossed through the Sea of Reeds. We hold both evening and morning services. As is the custom of Reform synagogues, Yizkor (Memorial Prayers) are recited on this final day of our Passover observance. For more information regarding this year’s Passover services and events, please click here.
On this day of remembrance, we join with the other synagogues in Brownstone Brooklyn to jointly honor the memory of the six million who perished in the Holocaust. Members of Brooklyn Heights Synagogue, Congregation Beth Elohim, Congregation Mount Sinai, Kane Street Synagogue, Kolot Chayeinu, Park Slope Jewish Center, and Union Temple participate in the commemoration, which rotates its location among the synagogues each year.
The Festival of Revelation, Shavuot [literally: the Feast of Weeks], falls fifty days after Pesach. The members of our 10th Grade Confirmation Class, with the assistance of Rabbi Lippe and Cantor Ruben, lead our Shavuot evening worship services including the chanting of the Ten Commandments, Haftarah and the Scroll of Ruth. The Confirmands offer their own personal reflections upon this occasion.
We gather the following morning for Festival morning services and Yizkor prayers.
We gather just before sunset in our sanctuary on the eve of Tisha B’Av, the ninth day of the month of Av, as we commemorate the destruction of the Temples and other ancient tragedies that befell our people. We read the Scroll of Lamentations, partly chanted in Hebrew, and in English.
Every few years, instead of observing the ritual here at BHS, Rabbi Lippe asks those interested in observing this service to join him at Congregation Shearith Israel of Manhattan, the Spanish-Portuguese Synagogue of New York [Orthodox] which observes its own unique ‘Inquisitional’ style for the service and chanting of Lamentations.