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High Holy Day Worship

High Holy Days 5784 – Full Playlist

Experience Again

Beginning with Elul, the month of preparation, and concluding with the stirring sounds of the shofar, the High Holy Day season offers personal and communal journeys of self-awareness and change.

High Holy Days Overview
Schedule & Offerings
Special Gems of Torah Series During Elul

Elul, the Hebrew month that precedes the High Holy Days, is traditionally a time of preparation and introspection. Join us during our Gems of Torah Study class for four weeks of learning focused on the practice of Mussar, the traditional practice of moral and spiritual exploration. Together, we will be studying selections from The Mussar Torah Commentary: A Spiritual Path to Living a Meaningful and Ethical Life which was recently published by the CCAR Press.

These thoughtful sessions will be held on Zoom, led by members of the clergy and our Director of Lifelong Learning. We will explore traditional and modern texts and commentaries that will help us prepare our spirits and enrich our experience of the Days of Awe.

Click here to register for these learning opportunities.


Saturday, September 9, 9:00 p.m. 

Selichot Service, 9:00 p.m. 

Selichot begins the journey toward the unique beauty of High Holy Days, to focus our minds on penitence and preparation. Our beautiful service will begin at 9:00 p.m. in the Barish Sanctuary.

Rosh HaShanah

The Jewish new year ushers in a spiritual awakening to possibility and potential. A variety of services are available.

Friday, September 15

  • High Holy Day Kick-Off Reception, 5:00 p.m.
    Gather with friends and loved ones before services to celebrate the New Year together over refreshments and hors d’oeuvres.
  • Rosh HaShanah Unplugged, 6:00 p.m.
    This innovative service features a joyful, creative, contemporary prayer experience, suitable for all ages, with unique musical additions to encourage singing and participation.

Saturday, September 16

  • Children’s Service, 9:00 a.m. 
    Designed for children 8 and under and their families, this lively and fun service highlights the themes and rituals of the holiday.
  • Rosh HaShanah Morning Family Reception, immediately following our Children’s Service
    Join us for a sweet treat and chance to greet friends at the family reception immediate following the Rosh HaShanah children’s service.
  • Morning Service, 10:30 a.m.
    This intergenerational service combines familiar music and prayers with beautiful liturgical writing and stirring poetry, along with full translation and transliteration of Hebrew texts. You’ll also experience an inspiring and engaging collection of music led by Cantor Simmons, with accompaniment on organ and piano.

    • 3rd through 5th grade students are invited to pray with their parents for the first half of the service, then they will be led by our Helfman Religious School staff into their own separate High Holy Day celebration with fun and engaging activities. Pre-registration required. Click here to register.


Saturday, September 16, immediately following our 10:30 a.m. Rosh HaShanah morning service

On Rosh Hashanah, we begin the process of repentance by visiting a moving body of water to symbolically cast off our sins in a short service called Tashlich. After Rosh Hashanah morning services conclude, we will gather with our clergy at the Bill Coates Bridge over Brays Bayou for a short service of music and reflection. Take the shuttle from Emanu El, or click below for parking information.

  • Click here for Bill Coates Bridge location, parking information and a map.

NEW this year, we will ensure our new year gets off to a sweet start by celebrating Tash-LICK – the addition of an ice cream truck!


Outdoor High Holy Day Family Experience

Sunday, September 17, 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Nature Discovery Center, 7112 Newcastle

To complement our High Holy Day Children’s Services, families with children in 2nd grade or younger are invited to join Emanu El clergy and staff for an in-person outdoor experience featuring PJ Library Story Walk™.

We will be gathering at the Nature Discovery Center in Bellaire for this very special event. Arrive at your convenience to enjoy a guided walk with activities, an apples and honey snack, and more! This program is free of charge and open to the community; however, space is limited and advance registration is required.

Click here to register.


Cemetery Service

Sunday, September 17, 5:00 p.m.
Emanu El Memorial Park, 8431 Bissonnet St.

We invite all to join together in the beautiful, serene surroundings of Emanu El Memorial Park to remember their dear ones during the High Holy Day season.

Shabbat Shuvah

Friday, September 22, 6:00 p.m.

Hear a message of inspiration to deepen your spiritual and moral explorations on this very special Shabbat between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur.

This year we are pleased to invite Steven J. Frank, MD to share some personal reflections. Dr. Frank is an endowed tenured professor of Radiation Oncology and holds the Bessie McGoldrick Professorship in Clinical Research at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

He and his family are deeply devoted to Jewish life and Jewish learning. He will reflect on the Jewish values that have motivated him during his time in the military, and through his work as a highly respected cancer researcher.

Yom Kippur

These services, on the holiest night of the year, will feature the contemplative prayers and stirring music unique to this holiday. They will be accompanied by Ann Frohbieter on organ and our professional choir.

Sunday, September 24

  • Kol Nidre Service, 7:30 p.m.Barish Sanctuary (in person with streaming options)
    Sermon by Rabbi Hayon
    This service, on the holiest night of the year, will feature the contemplative prayers and stirring music unique to this holiday. They will be accompanied by Ann Frohbieter on organ and our professional choir and include the poignant setting of Kol Nidre played by Brinton Smith, Principal Cellist of the Houston Symphony.

Monday, September 25

  • Children’s Service, 9:00 a.m.Barish Sanctuary (in person with streaming options)
    Led by our clergy
    Designed for children 8 and under and their families, this service offers engaging music, prayers, and stories that will encourage families to reflect on how we can be our best selves.
  • Morning Service, 10:30 a.m.Barish Sanctuary (in person with streaming options)
    Sermon by Rabbi Silk
    This service will be led by our clergy, accompanied by Ann Frohbeiter on organ and our professional choir. Through stirring music and meaningful prayer, we will reflect on the themes of repentance and forgiveness.

    • 3rd through 5th grade students are invited to pray with their parents for the first half of the service, then they will be led to a unique, age-appropriate Torah experience facilitated by our teen leaders and Helfman staff. Pre-registration required. Click here to register.
  • Afternoon Experience
    Enhance your Yom Kippur experience with afternoon options:

12:30 p.m. – 1:20 p.m.

The Apology Variety Hour, Rabbi Fixler, Barish Sanctuary
How do we find the words to say sorry? How do we find the strength to forgive and let go? We will explore the themes of apology and repair through diverse offerings of music, theater, and art. We will explore ancient texts and modern media to shed new light on the themes of this holy day.

1:30 p.m. – 2:20 p.m.

Back in Time: Capturing Memory with Collage and Drawing, Ellen Orseck & Cantor Simmons, Oshman Multi-Purpose Room
Using collage materials congregants may explore memories of their childhood holiday celebrations or their family gatherings. Houston-based artist Ellen Orseck will lead participants through the process of drawing, collaging and developing opaque as well as translucent elements in their collage works. Advance registration requested due to limited space. Click here to register.

Life Lessons from Generation to Generation: The Gifts of an Ethical Will, Rabbi Silk, Stillman-Lack Library
Spend a bit of Yom Kippur afternoon reflecting on what’s most important in your life and consider ways to convey those things to the next generation. In this afternoon session we will learn about ethical wills, examine examples, and have the opportunity to begin crafting our own expressions of our values, achievements, blessings, life lessons, hopes and dreams.

Joining the Conversation: Expanding the Realm of Possibility in Jewish Text Study, Stefani Carlson, Board Room
For more than two millennia, Jews have studied Torah in community, generating lively debates in our search for meaning and relevance. Our texts record these discussions, in a literary tradition that transcends time and space to link thousands of voices into one great conversation. Midrash, a Hebrew word meaning “searching out and exploring sacred scripture,” is not just a body of writings, but a creative process that is continually ongoing. Come build connections to our texts and each other as we trace the thread of conversation around one of today’s Torah readings.

Musical Contemplation, Proler Chapel
A string quartet of Shepherd School musicians will create space for personal contemplation and meditation on the themes of the holiday.

2:30 p.m. – 3:20 p.m.

Social Justice Showcase: Repairing Our World, Rabbi Fixler, Oshman Multi-Purpose Room
Learn from leaders representing some of our congregation’s incredible social justice projects. Hear about our work at a state and local level on healthcare equality, diversity and belonging, civic engagement, and hunger/homelessness. Join the conversation and discover ways that you can lend your own voice to this important work in this new year of 5784.

Meditation, Ann Friedman, Board Room
Experience a guided journey of mindfulness, utilizing the themes of the Days of Awe.

Yom Kippur, Then and Now, Rabbi Walter, Proler Chapel

  • Healing & Wholeness, 3:30 p.m., Barish Sanctuary (in person with streaming options)
    Find restoration and strength through poetry, song and prayer.
  • Yizkor & N’ilah, 4:30 p.m., Barish Sanctuary (in person with streaming options)
    Through meaningful readings and soul-stirring music, we will journey through varied expressions of grief and memory.
  • Break the Fast, 6:30 p.m., Oshman Multipurpose Room
    We will bring our holidays to a close by breaking the fast together.

General Information

Emanu El is excited to announce that we will be using digital passes for High Holy Day services this year. We will email each adult member of your household a digital pass which may be used for all holidays and services. You must be a member in good standing to receive High Holy Day passes. You will receive an email from orders@simpletix.com which will be sent to the email address on file in your ShulCloud account in early September. You can print your pass at home or simply save it on your phone to be scanned when you arrive at the building for services. Passes will be scanned before you can enter the building. Your name will be on your pass, and passes are NOT transferrable.

We accept passes from other congregations and also welcome military personnel, college students with ID, and out-of-town hospital patients along with their families. Additionally, we offer reciprocity passes to members in good standing at other congregations (more info below).

We also welcome members of the community who have moved to Houston since last High Holy Days. Please ask them to contact Anna Shabtay at 713.529.5771, ext. 261 or annas@emanuelhouston.org to arrange for newcomer passes.

As always, finances are never a barrier to membership at Emanu El, and guest pass options are also available for non-members. If you would like more information about these options, contact fredi Bleeker Franks at 713.529.5771, ext. 221 or fredif@emanuehouston.org.


Will you be out of town for Rosh HaShanah and/or Yom Kippur? If you are planning to worship at a congregation near your travel destination, you may be eligible for reciprocity. Through our affiliation with the Union for Reform Judaism, our congregation enjoys reciprocity with hundreds of Reform synagogues nationally. Please contact Sue Lewis at suel@emanuelhouston.org or 713.529.5771. We will work with our partners to ensure your seat at your destination synagogue.

The form to request reciprocity is available by clicking here. Please fill out the form to the best of your ability to help not only your Emanu El team but those at your destination synagogue.

If you have questions, please contact Anna Shabtay at annas@emanuelhouston.org or 713.529.5771, ext. 261.


Please remember to bring your cell phones or your printed digital passes! Only individuals with High Holy Days passes will be permitted entry to the Emanu El campus. Parking on Floors 1 and 2 of the Gaylor Parking Facility will be reserved for handicap-accessible use. Because there is limited garage parking, we encourage you to park offsite. Buses will run continually between satellite parking and Emanu El.

For Erev Rosh HaShanah, Rosh HaShanah Day and Kol Nidre, park at the Medical Clinic of Houston at 1707 Sunset Blvd. The parking garage entrance is located on Rice Blvd.

For those attending our Tashlich service, parking is available at Bill Coats Bridge. NEW this year – there will be a bus available for those who wish to attend but not park at the bridge.

  • Click here for Bill Coates Bridge location and parking information.

For Yom Kippur Day, parking will be available at Rice University. Rice U is located at 6100 Main St, and available parking is in the South Stadium Lot & Greenbriar Lot.

  • Click here for a map of Rice University parking on Yom Kippur Day.


Uber to Emanu El for Services

Emanu El is subsidizing Uber by $5 on Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur for worshipers who live within 25 miles of the synagogue.

Please note this voucher will be active from 3:00 p.m. on Friday, September 15, until 8:00 a.m. on Monday, September 25, at 7:00 p.m.

Click here to access the Uber voucher.


Childcare for children ages 15 months to 8 years is available during both Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur morning services. Registration in advance MUST be received in order to prepare for the appropriate number of caregivers. The cost is $10 per child, per service. 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 6; the Yom Kippur registration deadline is September 19. Register online or contact Sarah Kronman at 713.529.5771 or sarahk@emanuelhouston.org.

Click here to register for childcare.


For wheelchair or disability accessibility, please contact Christian Simmons at 713.529.5771, ext. 262 or christians@emanuelhouston.org.

The only reserved seats during the High Holy Days are for those that request this access ahead of time. When contacting Christian, please include the services you plan to attend. Those requesting accessible seating may be granted a maximum of four additional seats for family members. Please note this seating will be released 15 minutes prior to the beginning of services.

The deadline for Rosh HaShanah is Wednesday, September 6, and Yom Kippur is Wednesday, September 13.

Prayer Books

As we join together in sacred community from our homes, there are a variety of ways to follow along in Mishkan HaNefesh, the machzor or High Holy Day prayer book of the Reform Movement. We will be sharing the words of our prayer book on your screen during services, and you can follow along with these resources available to you at CCAR’s website.

Closed Captioning

To ensure those who are hard of hearing can enjoy and participate in our beautiful High Holy Day services, we will be providing closed captioning for all Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur services in the Barish Sanctuary except for the children’s services. For those watching remotely, scroll down to “Virtual Services” to access the link for captioning during Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur services.

Hearing Loop

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

High Holy Day Hunger Appeal

Congregation Emanu El’s longstanding commitment to fighting hunger is made possible this year by contributions to the High Holy Day Hunger Fund Appeal for the benefit of the Edward Wayne Hunger Fund. Donations to the appeal will support emergency food needs in the Houston area, our partners in the community helping to fight hunger, and our ongoing projects with SEARCH Homeless Services and Kids’ Meals.

Click here to make your contribution to the Hunger Fund online. You may also give by check payable to Congregation Emanu El (memo: High Holy Day Hunger Fund)

We kindly ask that no dedications be made for this appeal.

Virtual Services
Live Streaming

There are a variety of options to access the streaming video of each of our special and beautiful services.

Services on TV:
Our primary worship opportunities will be available on public access television through Houston Media Source. HMS broadcasts on channel 17 on Comcast/Xfinity, and on AT&T U-Verse, Sudden Link and Phonoscope on channel 99. Please note that some high-rises and multi-unit dwellings may not be included in this availability due to various restrictions.

Broadcast Schedule:

  • Rosh HaShanah, Unplugged: Friday, September 15, 6:00 p.m.
  • Rosh HaShanah Morning: Saturday, September 16, 10:30 a.m.
  • Kol Nidre Evening Service: Sunday, September 24, 7:30 p.m.
  • Yom Kippur Morning Service: Monday, September 25, 10:30 a.m.


For those watching remotely, we intend to use the StreamText platform for a second straight year.

Click here to access captioning for Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur services.

Technical Support


Our goal is to make your experience as easy as possible in connecting with us during these High Holy Days. Members of the synagogue staff will be available during weekday business hours in addition to during our High Holy Day worship services to provide assistance to our congregants.

Please call 713.529.5771 for support.