High Holiday Prayer Ground: Shaarey Zedek Congregation’s Family Event Returns for Second Year — Detroit Jewish News – The Jewish News | Directory Mayhem

Scenes from CSZ’s recent Young Families musical Shabbat. “This event is very similar to what families with young children might experience at High Holiday Prayground,” says Rabbi Yoni Dahlen.

The alternative festival-style program aims to provide a fun and unique twist on traditional services.

The Shaarey Zedek Congregation will be bringing back the High Holiday Prayground for a second year.

Held during the High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, this festival-style alternative program aims to provide a fun and unique twist on traditional services.

Rabbi Yoni Dahlen
Rabbi Yoni Dahlen

“We’re trying to figure out a way we can have ours [typical] Experiencing High Holidays and holding religious and meaningful services, but also allowing people to experience the High Holidays and pray in their own way,” says Rabbi Yoni Dahlen of Shaarey Zedek.

With music, yoga, a drum circle and more, High Holiday Prayground has something for parishioners of all ages, including the youngest generations of the synagogue.

“The whole campus is opening up,” explains Dahlen. “People are free to wander about as they see fit and find different ways to connect with the holidays through many different mediums.”

station to station

On both days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, synagogue services are held from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. At 10:30 a.m., the High Holiday Prayground also begins its celebrations.

The Main Stage is the first area to open and caters to families and young children. From 11 a.m. further stations open on the synagogue campus.

High Holiday Prayerground will include a yoga station hosted in partnership with Citizen Yoga; a drum circle station teaching rhythm and spiritual practice; and a Bubble Club with Lindsay Mall, where Hebrew songs, music and dance are learned.

“Children and families can go from station to station at their own pace,” says Dahlen.

The main stage or home base will offer an alternative service for all ages that will include a more musical and solemn version of the traditional Solemnity services.

It was an idea born in 2021 as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic encouraged many synagogues like Shaarey Zedek to reconsider their services to conform with health recommendations and accommodate social distancing.

“Last year a lot of young families came to us and said they didn’t feel comfortable inside [during the High Holidays]’ says Dalen. With many children still unvaccinated, the synagogue had to develop an alternative to indoor services.

Luckily, the 2021 High Holiday Season brought nice weather that made an outdoor event like High Holiday Prayground possible. Last year, according to Dahlen, around 200 members came and the event was well received. “It was 75 degrees and sunny,” he recalls. “It’s hard to repeat, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed.”

Still, parishioners liked the idea of ​​an alternative service regardless of the weather.

“We had a lot of people come and tell us it was a really great experience,” says Dahlen. “Our alternative service is not a watered down service; it is still a very meaningful ministry involving much music, participation and intention.

“It’s not just for little kids,” he adds. “It’s for everyone. It’s accessible.”

set intentions

Dahlen hopes the event can encourage the community to find their own way to connect with Judaism during the High Holidays.

“There isn’t just one way to experience Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur,” he says.

He believes people might be surprised at how much they might enjoy an alternative service program like High Holiday Prayground combined with traditional worship services.

“I think people find other avenues when the High Holy Days speak to them in ways they didn’t expect,” says Dahlen. “That gives us permission to experiment a bit.”

Shaarey Zedek is building a new playground that the synagogue hopes will be ready in time for the High Holidays — and taking it a step further with a new structure for children.

Dahlen hopes turnout will be even higher this year, especially now that COVID-19 vaccines are available for children. In the event of rain or inclement weather, High Holiday Prayground will be accommodated in tents or indoors on Shaarey Zedek’s campus.

“It sets the pace for the rest of our year,” he says of the High Holidays. “We’re meant to dance, move and run around – experience the holidays with ourselves.”

Leave a Comment