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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 with engaging opportunities for prayer and learning during the holiest time of our Jewish year. 

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 share 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 21

Evening Service
9:00 p.m.

S'lichot 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.


Sunday, September 29 

Rosh HaShanah Unplugged
5:30 p.m.

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.


Monday, September 30 

Children’s Service
9:00 a.m.

Designed for children 8 and under, this enhanced children’s service features an engaging visual prayer book supplement which offers fun and meaningful new content.

Morning Service
10:30 a.m.

​​​​​​This intergenerational morning service combines familiar 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, Barbara Loeser, our professional choir, and organ. 

Rosh Hashanah Morning Program for Children (Grades 3-5)
​​​​​​3rd through 5th grade students will be invited to pray with their parents for the first half of the service. Afterward, they will be led into their own separate High Holy Day celebration with fun and engaging activities. Pre-Registration required.


Tashlich (5601 S. Braeswood Blvd.)
5:00 p.m.

​​​​​​We gather at Brays Bayou across from the ERJCC and symbolically cast our sins into the water while singing and reflecting together.


Friday, October 4 

Evening Service
6:00 p.m. 

​​​​​​During this special Shabbat service between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, Barbara Loeser will deliver a message of inspiration. 


Sunday, October 6 

Evening Service (8431 Bissonnet St.)
5:00 p.m.

​​​​​​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, October 8 

Evening Service
7:30 p.m.

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


Wednesday, October 9 

Children's Service
9:00 a.m.

​​​​​​It’s Better to be Better is getting even BETTER with an engaging visual prayer supplement on the big screen and a special surprise at the end. 

Morning Service
11:00 a.m.
This service will be led by our clergy, accompanied by our professional and volunteer choirs and organ.

Yom Kippur Morning Program for Children (Grades 3-5)​​​​​​
3rd through 5th grade students will be invited to pray with their parents for the first half of the service. Afterward, they will be led by our Helfman Religious School staff into their own separate High Holy Day celebration with fun and engaging activities.


Afternoon Experience
​​​​​​We will offer several options to provide special meaning and to enhance your Yom Kippur afternoon experience. 

1:45 p.m. 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.
  • The Binding of Isaac​​
    Search for new answers to the ancient questions raised by this complex and troubling story: What was Abraham’s real test? What are God’s expectations of him – and of us?
  • Teen Open House
    7th through 12th graders are invited to come and meet Becca, our new Youth Engagement Coordinator, who will lead them in some fun, chill, Yom Kippur activities.

3:00 p.m. 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 faith has played in their lives’ journeys.
  • Social Justice Conversation
    Join members of our Social Justice Core Team for a facilitated conversation about the intersection of Judaism and social justice. We will share stories and reflect on how the pursuit of justice amplifies the themes of the High Holy Days and enriches our everyday lives.

Yizkor & N'ilah
4:30 p.m.

The 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
Immediately following N'ilah

The community is invited to break the fast together. 



General Information


High Holy Day passes are sent to our membership by mail. 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 Elizabeth Townsend at 713.529.5771, ext 222 or to arrange for a newcomer pass.   

Each member in good standing is entitled to invite up to 2 guests to one worship service during the High Holy Days, excluding Kol Nidre. For security reasons, we ask for contact information of each guest ahead of the holidays. The request form is available online and should be completed by the member of Emanu El. Passes will be available for pick-up at the rotunda prior to the High Holy Days or at the will-call table on the day(s) of.



​​​​​​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 at 1707 Sunset Blvd. The parking garage entrance is located 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 in advance 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.  

The registration deadline for Rosh HaShanah is September 25; the Yom Kippur registration deadline is October 3. 

Register online or contact Evon Zionts at 713.529.5771 ext. 255 or

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



​​​​​​For wheelchair or accessibility accommodation, please submit a request form online (below) or contact Elizabeth at 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. These seats will be held for up to 15 minutes prior to the beginning of services.

The deadline Rosh HaShanah is September 25; Yom Kippur deadline is October 3. 



​​​​​​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 a High Holy Day usher? 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 Jason Plotkin at to find out how you can become part of our team. 



Sun, May 31 2020 8 Sivan 5780