A Guide to the High Holy Days at Congregation B’nai Israel
2710 Park Avenue, Bridgeport CT 06604
Welcome to Congregation B’nai Israel! We are so excited to celebrate and welcome the New Year with you! Below is a guide to all aspects of High Holy Days at B’nai Israel. Please let us know if you have any questions, you can always contact our office: (203) 336-1858.
Erev Rosh Hashanah
We hold two Erev (Evening) Rosh Hashanah services each year, a service at Jennings Beach in Fairfield at 5:00 p.m. and a service in the synagogue sanctuary at 7:30 p.m. The beach service is open to the whole community; you do not need a ticket to attend. We encourage participants at the beach to come early or stay late to have dinner together and socialize on the beach! In the event of inclement weather, we will notify the congregation and hold the beach service in our tent back at the synagogue. Space inside the tent is limited, and we ask that participants do not bring meals to the tent service.
Morning Service Locations – The Sanctuary and the Tent
We run two concurrent services on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur mornings. Congregants are free to choose which service they would like to attend, there is no “main” service or “overflow” service. The liturgy of the services is essentially the same, and one of our rabbis is at each service. Our Cantor and choir lead the music in the sanctuary, while the music in the tent is led by wonderful lay leaders.
We offer youth programs on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur mornings for students in grades kindergarten through third. The programs are run by our B’nai Israel teenagers and our Director of Education.
We offer two sets of family services, one for preschool age children, the second for elementary and middle school age children. On Rosh Hashanah, our family services are at 3:30 p.m., with the preschool service in the tent and family service for our older children in the sanctuary. You do not need a ticket to attend family services. On Yom Kippur, our preschool service meets at 9:00 a.m. in the chapel and the family service for our older children meets at 1:30 p.m.
We offer childcare in our Bonim Preschool center for children ages 3 months to 5 years old. Childcare is offered on Rosh Hashanah Day 1 and 2, Yom Kippur morning, and Yom Kippur afternoon and Yizkor. Those who wish to have childcare must sign up ahead of time through our website. Please see form for pricing. We, unfortunately, cannot accept walk-in requests for childcare.
We are pleased to offer our Natt Family Library as a space for nursing moms and kids who need some space to stretch their legs. We have a live stream of the service on a TV in that room for parents to watch while nursing or watching their kids.
Rosh Hashanah Day 2 and Tashlich
We encourage synagogue members to join us for services on the second day of Rosh Hashanah at 10:00 a.m. The service is a little more informal, with a discussion led by our rabbi in lieu of a formal sermon. We then join together for Tashlich on Brooklawn Parkway for a short service and casting of our sins led by our BIFTY teens.
Cemetery Memorial Service
It is customary to visit the graves of loved ones in between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Each year on the Sunday between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we offer a memorial service at our Fairfield cemetery at 1:00 p.m. and at our Monroe cemetery at 2:00 p.m.
We offer two services on the evening of Yom Kippur. Our early service begins at 6:30 p.m. and our late service with our adult choir begins at 8:45 p.m.
Yom Kippur Food Drive
Every year our BIFTY teens run a non-perishable food collection on Yom Kippur morning. We encourage you to bring a bag of food to donate! We donate half of the food we collect to Operation Hope in Fairfield, and the other half to the Salem Lutheran Food Pantry in Bridgeport.
Yom Kippur Afternoon Study Session
More and more of our own congregants choose to spend the entire day in the synagogue. There are quiet places for mediation and/or we encourage members to join for an afternoon study session in the Natt Family Library following Yom Kippur Morning services.
Yom Kippur Afternoon Service
In recent years we have created a space not only for liturgy, but to share the stories and music of our congregants. This is an opportunity to hear stories of congregants that connect to themes of the Yom Kippur liturgy. Each year we also ask some of our community musicians to share a piece of music that holds meaning for them. This service is often an opportunity for quiet reflection and prayer (you do not need a ticket to attend this service).
There is an opportunity to remember loved ones who have died by recalling their names in a memorial book handed out prior to the Yizkor/Memorial service. Information as to how to do so is sent out some weeks prior to the Holy Days. While there is no charge, donations can be made through our office in honor of loved ones.
Ne’ilah is the Yom Kippur concluding service, which follows Yizkor. We highly encourage everyone to stay for the Ne’ilah service, which marks the symbolic “closing of the gates” on Yom Kippur. All of our shofar blowers are invited to the bimah for one last shofar blast. The service then concludes with a Havdalah service, where we have all of our children come up on the bimah with glow sticks.
Join the Choir!
We are always looking for wonderful singers to join our Junior and Adult Choirs. The Junior choir is open to students in grades 4-6. All those interested in joining our choirs should contact our Cantor or contact our main office: (203) 336-1858.
We are always looking for new volunteers to help usher on the High Holy Days! If you are interested, please call our office: (203) 336-1858.