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High Holy Day Worship

We have arrived at a number of thoughtfully-considered ways to draw our large congregation closer together physically and spiritually during the holiest time of our Jewish year.

We are delighted that we have succeeded in arranging the schedule in such a way as to allow us to hold all of our worship and study experiences (with the exception of Tashlich) at our congregational home here at Emanu El. Centralizing our High Holy Day experiences at the temple will allow our entire congregation to worship together in our beautiful building, and to be led in prayer by our full clergy team at the same time.

Second, we are thrilled to introduce some new, engaging opportunities for prayer and learning. These offerings will combine many beloved and familiar elements of our cherished worship traditions with meaningful content that speaks to the dynamic and demanding nature of the world around us. We are eager for you to experience these inspiring prayer experiences and powerful spiritual opportunities that range from traditional to innovative.

We are excited to share these High Holy Days with you and send you our warmest wishes.

Service Schedule

Saturday, September 1

Evening Service
9:00 pm

Selichot showcases the unique beauty of High Holy Day liturgy and music to focus our minds on penitence and preparation for the holiest season of the year.

Erev Rosh HaShanah
Sunday, September 9 

Rosh HaShanah Unplugged
5:30 pm

​​​​​​Led by our clergy team and members of the Shabbatones, this one-hour innovative service is designed for those looking for a more creative and contemporary prayer experience.  Worshipers of all ages are welcome.  

Evening Service
7:30 pm

​​​​​​During our traditional service, our clergy and professional choir will lead us in familiar and timeless melodies.

Rosh HaShanah
Monday, September 10 

Children’s Service: A New Beginning
9:00 am

​​​​​​This service is designed for children ages 8 and under.

Morning Service: A Time to Rejoice
10:30 am

​​​​​​We are excited to introduce a new, intergenerational morning service which combines traditional sounds and words with graceful new liturgical writing, stirring poetry, transliteration and full translation of the Hebrew texts. The service includes an inspiring and engaging collection of music led by Cantor Simmons. During the service, we offer all 3rd through 5th grade students a unique opportunity to participate with Emanu El teachers in an age-appropriate High Holy Day celebration at an alternate location while the adults remain in the Barish Sanctuary.

Rosh HaShanah Morning Program for Children (Grades 3-5)
​​​​​​During our Rosh HaShanah Morning service, children in grades 3-5 will have the opportunity to participate in a special interactive experience led by our Helfman Religious School faculty. Children will sit with their families for the first portion of the service, then be led by staff to the Oshman Multi-Purpose Room (MPR) following an announcement at the beginning of the Torah service. The program will include a snack, as well as meaningful, hands-on activities designed to help the students engage with the themes of the holiday. Parents should pick up their children in the MPR after services. There is no cost for this program, and children do not need to be registered in Helfman Religious School to participate, but pre-registration is required. Please register at by Wednesday, September 5th. For more information, please contact Stefani Carlson, Director of Congregational Learning, at or 713.529.5771.


Monday, September 10 - CANCELED DUE TO WEATHER

Evening Service
5:00 pm
(5601 S. Braeswood Blvd.)

​​​​​​We gather at Brays Bayou across from the ERJCC and symbolically cast our sins into the water while singing traditional melodies and reflecting on beautiful poetry. 

Shabbat Shuvah
Friday, September 14 

Evening Service
6:00 pm

​​​​​​During this special Shabbat between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, Stephanie Wittels Wachs will deliver a message of inspiration. 

Cemetery Service
Sunday, September 16 

Evening Service
5:00 pm
(8431 Bissonnet St.)

​​​​​​We invite all to join together in the beautiful, serene surroundings of our cemetery to remember their dear ones during the High Holy Day season.

Kol Nidre  ​​​​​
Tuesday, September 18 

Evening Service
7:30 pm

​​​​​​Our traditional Kol Nidre service will be led by our clergy accompanied by our professional choir and Brinton Smith, Principal Cellist, Houston Symphony.  

Yom Kippur
Wednesday, September 19 

Children's Service: It's Better to be Better
9:00 am

​​​​​​This service is designed for children ages 8 and under.

Morning Service
11:00 am

Afternoon Experience
1:15 pm & 2:15 pm

​​​​​​In place of our traditional afternoon service, we will offer several options to provide special meaning and to enhance your Yom Kippur afternoon experience. 

1:15 pm Options:

  • Study 
    ​​​​​​Take an in-depth look at the Book of Jonah and encounter new facets of this familiar text.
  • Healing
    ​​​​​​Find wholeness through poetry, song and prayer.
  • Community Conversations
    ​​​​​​Share stories about “home” that will inspire and shape Emanu El’s year of social justice programming

2:15 pm Options:

  • Study
    ​​​​​​Explore Jewish texts on sin and repentance, and discover new ways of thinking about the spiritual work of repentance on the High Holy Days.
  • Meditation
    ​​​​​​Experience a guided journey of mindfulness utilizing the themes of the Days of Awe.
  • Stories of Inspiration, Hope, Perseverance
    ​​​​​​Gather to hear the personal narratives of three of our members and learn about the unique roles that Judaism has played in their lives’ journeys.

Hineini: Confession and Comfort for Today’s World
3:15 pm
​​​​​​This new service will combine the beloved tradition of Confessions for our Times with contemporary, relatable and stirring music, silent reflection and relevant readings that speak to the issues of the day.  

Yizkor & N'ilah
4:30 pm

Our traditional Yizkor Memorial Service will be followed by our concluding N’ilah Service, where we will hear the final blast of the shofar.

Break the Fast- Bagels & Schmears
Immediately following N'ilah

Our Break the Fast was started four years ago by our members Greta and Alexander Pliskin, who have continued this tradition since its inception in loving memory of their grandmothers Riva Grinman and Leah Pliskin. All are invited to come together at the end of Yom Kippur for a nosh. 



General Information


Two guest passes will be mailed to congregants along with their service passes during the second week of August. We encourage you to offer them to anyone who wishes to attend a single High Holy Day service. Please note that these passes may not be used on Kol Nidre.

We accept passes from other congregations and also welcome military personnel, college students with ID, and out-of-town patients receiving treatment in the Texas Medical Center along with their families. If you know someone who has moved to Houston within the last six months, please contact Jill Kaplan at 713.529.5771, ext. 262 or to arrange for a newcomer pass.   


​​​​​​Only individuals with High Holy Days passes or handicap placards will be permitted entry to the Emanu El campus.

All parking on Floors 1 and 2 of the Gaylor Parking Facility will be reserved for handicap-accessible use.

The West Lot is reserved for Rabbi’s Circle members with a required pass.

Because there is limited garage parking on Floors 3 and 4, we encourage you to park at the satellite locations. Buses will run continually from the satellite parking lots to and from Emanu El. 

For Erev Rosh HaShanah and Kol Nidre, park at the Medical Clinic of Houston, 1707 Sunset Blvd. The parking garage entrance is on Rice Blvd. On Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur Day, park at Rice University. Due to construction on the west side of the Rice campus, we will use the Rice South Stadium Lot (with overflow in the Greenbriar Lot). A special entrance to the South Stadium Lot will be open between Gates 8 and 9, specifically for our Emanu El guests. This entry point is located on University Blvd. between Montclair and Stockton. 


​​​​​​Childcare for children ages 15 months to 8 years is available during all High Holy Day services, with the exception of the 5:30 p.m. service on Rosh HaShanah. Registration and advance payment MUST be received in order to prepare for the appropriate number of caregivers. The cost is $10 per service per child. A light snack will be provided; however, children with allergies are encouraged to bring their 
own snacks. 

Click the link below to register for childcare, or contact Evon Zionts at 713.529.5771 ext. 255 or

  • Rosh HaShanah Deadline: September 5 
  • Yom Kippur Deadline: September 14

​​​​​​For wheelchair or disability accessibility, contact Elizabeth Townsend at 713.529.5771 ext. 222 or and include the services you plan to attend. Preferred seating will be provided to those who give advance notice. Those requesting special-needs seating may be granted a maximum of four additional seats for family members. Special-needs seating will be released 15 minutes prior to the beginning of services.  

  • Rosh HaShanah Deadline: September 5 
  • Yom Kippur Deadline: September 14


​​​​​​You can watch all High Holy Day services live-streamed three ways:  

  1. Emanu El website:
  2. Facebook:
  3. Roku device: search for the Congregation Emanu El Houston channel 

Archived videos of the services and sermons will be available following services at the same digital locations.


​​​​​​The Barish Sanctuary is equipped with an Induction Loop System which transmits audio signals directly to one’s telecoil (T-coil)-equipped hearing aid.


​​​​​​Brotherhood provides closed captioning for all on-site Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur services (with the exception of the children’s services) for all who are hearing impaired. 


​​​​​​Interested in being an usher for the 2018 High Holy Days? Be a friendly face, be an extra set of eyes and a helpful hand during these holiest of days. Open to men and women of the congregation, we are looking to expand our pool of ushers. Contact Steve Moskowitz at or 832.236.7307 to find out how you can become part of our team. 



Wed, June 19 2019 16 Sivan 5779