Detailed High Holiday Information

Festival Service in the Beth El Bender Sanctuary

The Festival Services are officiated by Rabbi Greg Harris, Rabbi Deborah Megdal, and Hazzan Asa Fradkin. These traditional services bring together families and friends for familiar prayers, powerful spiritual moments, and provocative sermons. Synagogue leaders are honored for their service to the community. The Conservative movement’s High Holiday prayer book, Mahzor Lev Shalem, is used. Special musical arrangements of the prayers complement traditional readings. The Festival Sanctuary service will also be livestreamed.

Kol Haneshama in the Beth El Swoff Chapel

Offered on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, Kol Nidre, and Yom Kippur through the end of Musaf, Kol Haneshama is a multi-sensory experience through the days of awe liturgy that encourages encounter with self, community, and the richness of Jewish tradition. Join us for communal prayer, study, meditation, singing, and transformation that will help you re-anchor yourself for a season of a renewal and healing, and find self-expression in the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services.

Led by Rabbi Rami Schwartzer, the service is warm and accessible, participatory, and engaging. The Kol Haneshama service will also be livestreamed.

Outdoor High Holidays

On Rosh Hashanah Day One and Yom Kippur, we are offering a shorter, lay-led outdoor service at Seneca Creek State Park in Gaithersburg. The Outdoor High Holiday service includes all of the highlights of a traditional High Holiday service in a more casual setting.

As this is an outdoor service, casual attire, sun protection, and bug spray are encouraged. There is ample parking, including some accessible parking spaces. However, as the terrain of the park can be uneven, we encourage those who need a more accessible service to join us at Beth El.

Bring a picnic lunch on Rosh Hashanah and stay after services to enjoy the park while kids have fun on the playground.


At Tashlich, Beth El gathers on the bridge over the stream behind the Sunrise Senior Living building (formerly Spring House) on Battery Lane in Bethesda to conduct the ritual of symbolically throwing our sins in a body of moving water. Join us on the second day of Rosh Hashanah at 4:00 pm for the traditional Tashlich service. Instead of bringing bread, please consider bringing items that are friendly and safe for local wildlife such as cracked corn, oats, rice, birdseed, frozen peas, chopped lettuce, or sliced grapes.

Virtual and At-Home Services

For those who are unable to join us in person, services will be available online. Please click here to see the full schedule of online services.


On Yom Kippur, we recite the Yizkor prayer to remember those we’ve lost, whether many years ago or very recently. Please join us at 3:30 pm for a brief teaching and discussion led by Rabbi Megdal on themes of remembrance, grief, and healing. All are welcome. Registration is recommended in case there are updates.
If you have any questions, please contact Robin Finkelstein at

Sponsored by the Clergy and the Nichum Aveilim (Comforting Mourners) Committee.


Services and Programming for Children and Teens

Families with Young Children (birth-PreK)

This service for families with young children from birth through pre-k celebrates and recognizes the holidays with singing and stories. Led by Dan Goldman and Karen Berman, the service will take place at Bethesda United Methodist Church.

Families with Children (K-5th grades)

Offered on both days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur morning, the Family Service is geared toward families with children in Kindergarten – 5th grades (younger and older siblings are welcome). Led by Annie Prusky, the services are designed to include both parents and children in the themes of the holidays, exploring Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur through learning, songs, and prayer. Due to space limitations, at least one child in the household must be in the appropriate grade range in order for Family Service tickets to be issued. This service will take place at Bethesda United Methodist Church.

3rd-5th Grade Student Service

This new service is for kids only. It’s perfect for more independent children whose parents wish to attend the main service or accompany younger siblings to a different Family Service.

Junior Congregation

This service for children in 6th and 7th grades offers a focus on prayer and making connections with the holidays as students prepare for the b-mitzvah.

Teen Discussions

In addition to attending a service above, all post-b-mitzvah teens are invited to discuss themes of the High Holidays with members of Beth El Religious School’s Upper School faculty.

Yom Kippur Youth Lounge Hangout

On Yom Kippur, the new Youth Lounge will be open from noon until the main service concludes for kids and teens 4th grade and older to play board games and hang out. Beth El has some of the newest and greatest board and card games but kids and teens are also welcome to bring their own to share with others!


Parents of young children – we know the High Holidays present a challenge trying to balance meaningful family holiday experiences with your own personal spirituality. Babysitting will be available in the Preschool wing at no cost on the first day of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur for children ages 6 months to 10 years so you can have time for prayer with your community after family programming concludes.