ALBANY – Congregation Beth Emeth will kick off its Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur observances with havdalah and selichot services on Saturday, Sept. 9, marking the season of repentance and renewal. The tradition of changing the Torah covers for the High Holy Days will be part of the service, which begins at 7:30 p.m. at the synagogue, 100 Academy Rd., Albany. The white covers placed on the scrolls symbolize purity, repentance and the hope for forgiveness, according to congregation administrators.
On the bimah will be Senior Rabbi Greg Weitzman, marking his first solo year, joined by Cantor Emily Short, who joined the congregation in July.
“Our theme for the High Holy Days this year is from the book of Lamentations, Hashiveinu V’nashuva – return to us and we will return. It tells us that we are quickly coming to the end of our yearly journey. Yet, as our liturgy reminds us, at every ending is another beginning, and an opportunity for renewal and return,” Weitzman said, adding that whether people are listening in-person or virtually, “know that your clergy and team at Congregation Beth Emeth are here for you, to welcome you back in 5784.”
Weitzman also spoke about his new role. “I am honored and excited to be serving as the next senior rabbi at Congregation Beth Emeth,” he said. “I look forward to building upon the legacy of those who have come before me and being the steward of this great community for the next generation.”
There will be a full menu of holiday services, including children’s programming. Those attending in-person will need to register on the congregation’s website, www.bethemethalbany.org; no tickets will be mailed. Services will also be live-streamed.
The combined Rosh Hashanah/Erev Shabbat service is set for 8 p.m. on Sept. 15.
Rosh Hashanah day, Sept. 16, will begin with a family service at 9 a.m. for those with young children. At 10:30 a.m., the main service will take place as 5784 is ushered in with the blast of the shofar. A dessert reception afterwards will give congregants a chance to wish each other a “shana tova.” For youngsters in grades 3-5, holiday-oriented activities will be offered at the same time as the main service, staffed by volunteers from the congregation. Separate registration for that program is required.
At 4 p.m., a communitywide tashlich ceremony will be held at Buckingham Pond.
Yom Kippur programming will include a full day of worship, from the nighttime service of Kol Nidre, at 8 p.m., on Sunday, Sept. 24, to services throughout the next day. The family service will take place at 9 a.m. Monday, followed by the main service at 11 a.m. At 2 p.m., there will be a service of renewal, featuring readers from the congregation, the volunteer choir and the chupah of healing. Beforehand, the ark of the main sanctuary will be open, allowing worshippers a chance for private reflection in a sacred space.
The Beth Emeth Youth Group made up of high school students will conduct the afternoon service at 3:15 p.m. The final services of the day will begin at 4:30 p.m. with the Yizkor Memorial Service, leading into Ne’ilah and havdalah, featuring the final shofar blasts. A break-the-fast nosh will follow.