A Raleigh church is offering a special course to provide insight into the Jewish Holy Days.
Yavneh Jewish Renewal Community and the Center for Deep Ecumenism will present a two-session mini-course in August called “Top Ten Questions – An Introduction to the Jewish Holy Days.”
The high holiday period is a time of introspection, repentance and renewal for the upcoming year.
The course is open to anyone regardless of faith and is designed to provide a better understanding of the Jewish Holy Days and their meanings.
Organizers say that although many people identify the High Holy Day season with the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year and Yom Kippur, the holy days encompass other traditions.
The class will also examine Selichot, a series of penitential poems and prayers that are said on fast days as well as the time leading up to Yom Kippur.
And participants will learn more about Simchat, the celebratory holiday that marks the completion of the annual Torah reading cycle.
Yavneh is a synagogue without walls that meets at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Raleigh. As part of the Jewish Renewal movement, Yavneh’s services follow the structure of traditional Jewish services while also incorporating music, chanting, meditation, movement and readings in both Hebrew and English.
The Renewal movement believes in taking a transdenominational approach to revitalizing Judaism by incorporating multiple spiritual traditions and welcoming people of all faiths.
“Our attendance at a worship service typically includes Jews-by-birth, Jews-by-choice and non-Jews”, said Raachel Jurovics, Yavneh’s rabbi. “This last category includes those who are exploring Judaism as a central spiritual path, as well as those who find it complements some other primary faith or spirituality. Non-Jews can fully participate in services and other events. Yavneh is one of relatively few synagogues that allow non-Jews to be full voting members.”
Jurovics said that knowing Hebrew is not a requirement to worship with Yavneh.
“Although there is a fair amount of Hebrew used in the service there are always side-by-side transliterations and translations, and frequently, especially if there are new people, I will offer brief explanations at various points of the service,” Jurovics said.
Jurovics will teach the mini-course. The top-10 questions theme will be the starting point for discussion that includes topics like fasting during Jewish holidays, the significance of blowing the ram’s horn and why the dates of the holidays change from year to year.
Participants are invited to one or both sessions, and registration is required. To register, go to yavneh-raleigh.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Members of the congregations at Yavneh and St. Mark’s Episcopal may attend for free, while others are asked to make an $18 donation.
The sessions will be from 7 to 9 p.m. Aug. 6 and 20 at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church Community Life Center, 1725 North New Hope Road in Raleigh.
The format will include lectures and discussions, question-and-answer periods and snacks each evening. No textbooks or other materials are necessary.
Jurovics welcomes all who are interested in learning.
“The Holy Days offer a spiritual journey and an opportunity for growth, regardless of one’s religious background, faith or lack of faith,” Jurovics said.
Every Yavneh event and service is always open to everyone.
“I’m willing to bet that no matter where someone is in their spiritual journey, they will find someone else at Yavneh in a similar place,” Jurovics said. “They will also find that myself and members of the congregation are happy to discuss and try to answer any questions they have.”
Carla Turchetti compiles Faith in Focus each week. Email her with details of upcoming events at email@example.com.