Holiday and Special Services
The High Holy Days, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, mark a special time of renewal, re-commitment and repentance. At Beth El, we blend celebration and solemnity, striving to create space for our congregants to reconnect with God and Judaism. Although the High Holy Days also are the high points for attendance at services during the year, we host spirit-filled services marking the Three Festivals, Sukkot, Passover and Shavuot, as well as other special services and holiday-related events throughout the year. Although traditional services take place every Shabbat, we have many special services that take place throughout the year:
- The renewal of the High Holidays, featuring:
- Main Service led by our hazzanim
- Kol HaNeshama lay-led services
- Family service
- Youth services
- Celebrating freedom on Passover
- Late-night study sessions of our Tikkun Leil Shavuot
- Open air celebrations on Sukkot, including:
- Engaging davenning with our musical congregation
- “Hiddur Mitzvah Contest” on the 1st Day
- The ever hilarious annual “deli-themed” sermon and deli lunch on the 2nd day
- Young adult Sukkot programs
- The sukkah is also open to use for those who wish to fulfill the mitzvah of eating in the sukkah.
- The raucous joy of our Purim celebration, including:
- “A Bit of Megillah” — our very popular kids’ spiel
- Megillah Madness (mentioned on the TV show, The West Wing)
- Hanukah celebrations including:
- Our Sunday morning “Latke-Hamentaschen Debate” where the best minds of Bethesda duke it out to determine which of the two is better (followed by a reception with both holiday treats).
- Scholar-in-Residence Weekend
- …and more!
Other special events during the Beth El year include:
Interfaith Thanksgiving Service
On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, Beth El shares an Interfaith Thanksgiving Service with the Bethesda United Methodist Church, our neighbors across the street. The service includes the clergy and adult and children’s choirs from both places of worship and the location alternates between the church and synagogue.
Prayers and Songs of Comfort, Healing, and Renewal – Special Service
Music-suffused traditions have long served to comfort us in the face of life’s challenges, and to help us find renewal when we, or others we know, are confronted by emotional, physical, or spiritual pain. In recognition of this, Evan Krame and Scott Glick have created a service to engage the Beth El community in an exploration of faith, comfort, and healing through the liturgies, melodies, and poetry of Jewish music.
Special Shabbat Services
Throughout the year, we have special Shabbat services introducing our congregation to extraordinarily talented individuals from outside the Beth El community or recognizing the contributions or accomplishments of our own members. These Shabbatot include the Rabbi-in-Residence weekend, the guest hazzan weekend, Sisterhood Shabbat and the Adult B’nai Mitzvah Shabbat.