High Holy Days Update
Dear Friends,

Judaism teaches that the preservation of life and health is of cardinal religious importance. Our commitment to this value, the recent increase in COVID-19 cases, and the guidance from the CDC and our medical professionals, has compelled us to refrain from opening the building for Shabbat services or other activities that would bring larger numbers of individuals into the Center for longer periods of time. It is our hope to continue holding our brief, weekday evening services in the sanctuary in-person -- with masks and distancing -- as well as online.

Thank you to the many congregants who participated in our High Holy Day Experience Survey. Your willingness to share the meaning of this season furnished us with insight about how to create a spiritual and meaningful experience for our congregational family.

As we weighed survey responses and considered the myriad challenges of creating a warm and welcoming service for worshipers without compromising the health and well-being of each and every member, it became increasingly clear that we would not be able to gather in our building for the High Holy Days this year. As difficult as this decision has been to make, we know it is the right one for the safety of our community.

This in no way changes the need to create maximally impactful services and spiritual experiences throughout the days of Elul and Tishri -- indeed, in the absence of welcoming you personally into the building, it is incumbent upon us to go the extra mile to reach out in as many ways as possible. Accordingly, we look forward to celebrating Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Sim h at Torah, and all the days leading up to the holidays through a combination of virtual, at-home, and in-person physically distanced experiences.  

There will be opportunities to participate in a traditional live-streamed service, as well as an online alternative service led by Rabbi Dov & Alina Kentof with the musical accompaniment of Hazzan Jesse Holzer. We are also planning for alternative ways for our families and teenagers to have physically distanced time together in Beth Shalom Park. Throughout the month of Elul, our clergy will visit different neighborhoods to blow Shofar even as we reach out in a variety of ways online. We look forward to sharing these plans with you in greater detail in the coming weeks.

Undoubtedly, the upcoming Days of Awe will look different than anything the Jacksonville Jewish Center has ever experienced. We are deeply committed, however, to view the challenges of this time as an opportunity to think creatively, and to put our heart and soul into fostering a sense of community. How we connect this year may change, but the strength of the ties that join us together as a congregational family will grow. With God’s help and yours, the New Year of 5781 will be one of goodness, sweetness, and health for our synagogue, our people, and our world. May we all be inscribed and sealed for life in the year ahead! 

Rabbi Jonathan Lubliner

Ben Setzer

Jennifer Smith
Executive Director