ALBANY – Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, with their themes of looking to the future while examining the past, have specific meaning this year at Congregation Beth Emeth. The congregation will celebrate its 185th anniversary in 5783. The year also will mark a transition in leadership, as Rabbi Scott Shpeen turns the reins over to Rabbi Greg Weitzman. And it will celebrate the High Holy Days with a full schedule of in-person services for the first time since 2019.

From left, Beth Emeth Rabbis Greg Weitzman, Rabbi Scott Shpeen and Cantor Sharon Kohn prepare for the new year and don their holiday attire.

“This year, in particular, we are very excited to welcome the High Holy Day season. First and foremost, because we are confident that people can finally return to Temple and feel safe about our ability to gather together again after not being able to do so for several years,” said Rabbi Shpeen. “In addition, this High Holy Day season not only begins the celebration of our 185th anniversary as the fourth oldest Reform congregation in America, but a year that will mark many new and exciting changes in the transition of clergy leadership at Beth Emeth.”

High Holy Days programming begins with a Selichot service on Saturday, Sept. 17, at 8 p.m. The following Saturday, Sept. 24, at 9 a.m. will be the first in new series of programs for families with young children. Rabbi Weitzman will lead Tashlich for Tots, for youngsters up to age 5 and their families, and teach them about the tradition of symbolically casting away sins by tossing crumbs into flowing water.

Rabbi Weitzman will deliver the sermon at the Rosh Hashanah evening service at 8 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 25. It will be broadcast on the congregation’s live-stream for those who don’t wish to attend in person. Prayer books may be borrowed from the synagogue. The live-stream may be accessed via the Beth Emeth website,

A full morning of programming for children of all ages, as well as the High Holy Day service at 10 a.m. in the main sanctuary are set for Monday, Sept. 26. Rabbi Shpeen will deliver the sermon, his last for Rosh Hashanah after 37 years at Beth Emeth. The day will start with an interactive program for preschoolers and their families, at 9:15 a.m. At 9:45 a.m., check-in will begin for class activities for children, ages 3-grade 5. Grades 6-8 will meet at 11 a.m. for a service with the congregation’s new Rabbinic Intern Yonatan Arnon. After the main service, there will be a dessert reception for congregants to mingle and exchange holiday greetings.

A community-wide Tashlich ceremony at Buckingham Pond will be held at 5 p.m., preceded by the PJ Library celebration at 4:30 p.m.

Yom Kippur at Beth Emeth will begin with the Kol Nidre service at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, October 4, with Rabbi Shpeen offering his thoughts on the sacred day. The pre-school interactive program will start a full day of worship on Wednesday, October 5, at 10:15 a.m. The morning service will start at 11 a.m.; at the same time, there will be class activities for children ages from age 3 to Grade 8. At 1:15 p.m. Rabbinic Intern Yonatan Arnon will lead Meditation with Movement to help congregants focus on the holiday’s spirituality, followed by the Service of Renewal at 2 p.m. The afternoon service at 3:15 p.m. will be conducted by members of the Congregation Beth Emeth Youth Group, and the combined Yizkor and Ne’ilah service will start at 4:30 p.m. After the shofar is blown, there will be a Break the Fast nosh, concluding the holiday.

Advance registration is required to attend all services and programs. Attendees will be checked in on arrival; no tickets will be mailed. Members who are planning to bring non-members are asked to fill out the guest registration form. For members of other URJ synagogues who wish to attend Beth Emeth, or if a Beth Emeth member plans to attend a service elsewhere, there is a URJ Courtesy Seating Request Form. Registration may be done online via the High Holy Days section at In keeping with current health guidelines, mask wearing is suggested but will not be required.

Information may be obtained by contacting the synagogue office at 518-436-9761, ext. 221 or 222.