Schedule of events

Erev Rosh HaShannah
Sunday, September 29th
5:30 pm - 6:30 pm
Ruach haMaqom, 168 Archibald

We gather for a short evening service, welcoming the Holy Days through song, thoughtful prayer, and grounded in the traditional melodies.

Rosh Hashanah Day 1
Monday, September 30th
10:00 am -1:00 pm
Ruach haMaqom, 168 Archibald

We gather in awe and wonder at the New Year which celebrates Creation and offers us the chance to begin a focused 10-day journey to renewal. Filled with song and stories, new tunes and traditional melodies for this potent Holy Day, we cultivate a spirit of forgiveness, for ourselves and others,  through prayer, open-hearted singing, and times of silence.

Rosh Hashanah Youth Service
Monday, September 30th
11 am-12:30 pm
Ruach haMaqom, 168 Archibald

Gather on shul steps at 11 am; depending up weather, we will either walk from the shul to a sacred cedar grove in the cemetery across the street or go to the porch at the Rabbi's home around the corner. Together we will explore different aspects of deep internal reflection, accounting, asking for forgiveness, and offering forgiveness through story, song, dynamic activities, and organic prayer rooted in ancestral liturgy. 4 years old and older are welcome; younger children need to be accompanied by an adult.

Monday, September 30th
2:30 pm
Meet on the boardwalk down at the lake.

On the shores of Lake Champlain we'll engage in the living Rosh Hashanah ceremony that encourages us to reflect on the poignant memories of last year and enter into the new year with a Tashlich, a casting off, of our regrets,  inviting us to a deepening commitment for a new year of possibility and connection. Bring weather gear if necessary and some bread to toss upon the waters.

Rosh Hashanah Day 2
Tuesday, October 1st
10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Ruach haMaqom, 168 Archibald St. 

Do you want to deepen your experience of the Holy Days? We will gather together at Ruach haMaqom to delve more deeply into this Sacred Time.  Moving through the machzor (the special prayer book that is used during the Holy Days), we'll employ contemplative practice (including Otiyot Chiyot , which is a Tai Chi of Hebrew letters), chant, learning, silence, and song.  We are blessed that we have this second day to deepen the experience of the first day, yielding spiritual fruit. 
Kol Nidre
Tuesday, October 8th
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Ruach haMaqom, 168 Archibald

Please arrive a little early, to get settled so we can begin promptly at 6:30 pm. We enter into our most purposeful prayer on the eve of Yom Kippur.  A quiet, sacred time that initiates some of the deepest probing of who we are as individuals and as a community, it is filled with what might be called real soul music.

Yom Kippur Morning Services including Yiskor
Wednesday, October 9th
10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Ruach HaMaqom, 168 Archibald

This, the highest/deepest Holy Day of our calendar, we note where we as individuals and as a community, look within to see where and how we  have 'missed the mark' and not lived up to our most elevated ideals. We  are invited to divorce ourselves as completely as humanly possible from the mundane world in which we live, in order to devote ourselves with all our hearts and minds to our relationship with the  Flow of Blessing. Refraining from eating or drinking, this is the quintessential sacred 26 hours of  embodied mindfulness . Wrapped into our time together will be a Yiskor service, ritually honoring the memory of those who have died . 

Yom Kippur Youth Service
Wednesday, October 9th
11:00 am - 12:30
Ruach haMaqom, 168 Archibald

Gather on shul steps at 11 am; depending up weather, we will either walk from the shul to a sacred cedar grove in the cemetery across the street or go to the porch at the Rabbi's home around the corner. Together we will explore different aspects of deep internal reflection, accounting, asking for forgiveness, and offering forgiveness through story, song, dynamic activities, and organic prayer rooted in ancestral liturgy. 4 years old and older are welcome; younger children need to be accompanied by an adult. Led by Kohenet Yapeth Perla.

Conversation with the Book of Jonah
Wednesday, October 9th
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Ruach haMaqom, 168 Archibald

At the dimming of the day, we are in many ways, Jonah. We have been fasting; we have confronted the way we act in the world, and we are yearning to change parts of our lives; we have spent Holy Day in the belly of a big fish, so to speak,  in the womb of possibilities and unanswerable questions. We come together at this quiet time, to expand on the story of Jonah, which is so much more than being 'swallowed by a big fish'!

Neilah: the ending of Yom Kippur
Wednesday, October 9th
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm  
Ruach haMaqom, 168 Archibald

As the sun slowly sets, we usher Yom Kippur out with uplifting song and the final exuberant plea for a fruitful and full year. Moving outside to witness the sun setting, we return to the sanctuary and end our service with a long blast of the shofar. A vegetarian, pot luck  kiddish will follow the setting of the sun.  Please bring a dish to share.


High Holidays 5780/2019

High holiday services will be held at Ruach haMaqom in the “Little Red Synagogue” in the heart of the Old North End in Burlington, Vt. We are so blessed to fill this beautiful gem of a building with our presence!

  • Please arrive on time, so that you can benefit from the continuity of the service and respect the integrity of the experience.

  • Every service has transliteration and translations to support all levels of Hebrew, and will be filled with song and beautifully supported by amazing musicians.

  • We ask that you make a donation to answer this, our annual appeal to fund and to support our amazing community.


Holiday Reflections

A Joyful Celebration!

According to the Sages, Rosh Hashanah is supposed to be celebrated in Joy. What do I mean by that? It is a New Year’s celebration without the party hats (though it does have a shofar!)  The New Year offers us a time to experience a joy that is grounded in the work of getting to know ourselves, examining our lives through the lens of our ethical and spiritual aspirations, and re-stating our commitment to live our lives according to our highest aspirations of what it means to be a kind and compassionate human being. We participate as individuals by coming together as a community; the liturgy is in the third person; we experience it in the first person.

Beneath the surface.

What lays beneath the daily-ness our lives? What informs our attitudes, actions, behaviors, emotions? When do we give ourselves the time and space to examine our lives?  Yes, we have this opportunity every day, every minute.  But the Holy Days, which begin with the first of the month of Elul and culminate as Yom Kippur draws to a close, specifically gives us the time, tools, and focus to dig beneath the surface of our lives, to reconnect with meaning and intention, to try and heal the places where we have hurt others, and to dissipate the hold that our own pain has on us. Moving through the ancient ‘spiritual technology’ of the prayers through a contemporary lens, we give ourselves the gift of renewal and reconnection. 

It's about realignment

It’s hard to walk into High Holidays cold. What do I mean, cold?  I was raised to attend synagogue only on the High Holidays, and I was struck by the severity of liturgy.  The face of GD that we meet in these services is one of Judge, Jury, and even Executioner!  (“who shall live, and who shall die, etc.”). What kind of religious tradition was this? It seemed discordant with the idea of a loving, forgiving face of GD.  Yet our tradition actually invites us to begin our self-evaluation a full six weeks before the holiday commences. The Midrash (ancient improvisational  rabbinic stories that interpret and expand our texts) teaches that, during the month of Elul (which is the month before Tishrei, in which the Holy Days occur), GD is ‘in the fields’, close to us, accessible to each of us, to go and walk with and have that opportunity discuss the meaning of our lives. At the end of Elul, GD returns to the throne, and once again assumes the image of King and Judge.  Taken as a full time sweep, from Elul 1 to Tishrei 11, we have about 6 weeks to feel that we can be honest with ourselves within a LOVING and COMPASSIONATE relationship.  This is not about severity; it’s about realignment, a yearning to be the best that we can be. 

Teshuvah... means "return"

Judaism doesn’t really have a solid concept of sin. I know, I know,  the language of the ‘al chet’ /sins that we committed’  part of the service, it sure seems as if we focus on the word, sin.  But we don’t. That’s just the best word the English translators have used in the context of the Holy Days.   Know that if we mess up, in our relationships with others or with ourselves, it is not the Jewish way to feel that we are damned, or that our very beings are polluted or that we are irrevocably stained. The ‘al chet’ has more of the feel of the image of an archer: I aimed my arrow to act in a certain way, according to my highest self; I went off target. The antidote is teshuvah, a word that means RETURN.  A Yearning to return to the path., to return to my highest self.  To return our community to the  highest moral imperative.  That is why there is so much in the liturgy in the service about having neglected the poor, the orphan, and the widow (in the language of our ancient poets).  That is why there is so much in the liturgy about being stiff necked and obstinate and callous.  That is why all the language is in the 3rd person: WE have strayed, not just as individuals, but as a community.  And, as individuals.

Our inner dowsing stick trembles

 The path of the Holy Days is a dowsing stick. Through the time we spend together, our inner dowsing stick trembles when we strike the deep waters of our soul. It can happen when a familiar melody vibrates with memories of our youth and our forbearers; it can happen when in call and response, a particular transgression rocks us, plumbing to the truth about how we have conducted ourselves this past year; it can happen in the silence between the words, in the stories in the Torah that are read, in the thought of a friend with whom we’ve had challenges.  When we respond to that pull of the dowsing stick, we have the opportunity to  find the hidden waters that course through our beings, and we can clear out that which has clogged the waterway.  Let the waters run free! This is what we are to do at this time of year. 

The holy conversation

The task of our generation, like each generation before us, is to enter into the holy conversation of our tradition. We do this by reaching in to Torah, into the treasure of our inheritance, in search of answers to the questions of our time, to deal with the crises of body, heart, mind and soul that so urgently call. And here is where the misunderstanding lies: We think that receiving is a passive thing, that the truth is already formed, that someone else’s Torah will speak to us, that the Torah of the past will be enough. Or we think that our tradition is something fixed, and if it doesn’t fit our sensibilities, we’ll just look elsewhere.

No one is doing your prayers

The holy days are not a passive experience.  No one is doing your prayers, your work, for you.  You are part of the conversation; you bring your questions, your pain, your excitement, your joys, your sorrows, to the experience.  During these days of teshuvah/turning, we are invited to turn to ourselves with compassion and ask: How can I make my life holy, moment by moment? How can I tap into that underground river that flows beneath my feet?  Personally, we ask, how will I loosen my self-judgment so that I can open to my dreams, the music within my soul, the call of the natural world that needs so much attention?  As a community, we ask, how will we correct the systemic corruption of justice in our world; how will we care for those who need support; how will lessen our impact on the planet?

In our collective journey through the High Holidays there is so much potential for healing. May we all have a vibrant and exciting year. 

- Rabbi Jan Salzman