High Holy Days 5781

Welcome to your High Holy Days 5781 Information Center!

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact our office at 703-437-7733.

May you be inscribed for a sweet new year!

Be sure to check this page frequently for updates as we continue to develop our High Holy Day experiences.

In order to ensure a secure High Holy Day experience, we are requiring all participants to register using the link below. All registrants will receive a PDF with all Zoom links prior to the holiday.


Saturday, September 12th

Every year on Slichot, we host a topical film screening and discussion before our Slichot ritual. This year, since we cannot be in person, we will not be watching the film together, but encourage you to gather digitally with family, friends, and other NVHC members to watch it! Then be sure to join us for the following programs:

6:00 pm – Family Movie Discussion on Inside Out

9:00 pm – Adult Movie Discussion on This is Where I Leave You

10:00 pm – Slichot Ritual

Rosh Hashanah

Remember to wear white!

Friday, September 18th

Erev Rosh Hashanah Experience

Digital Doors Open – 6:40 pm*
Service – 7:00 pm**

*If you would like to schmooze before the service, please be in the digital lobby by 6:45 pm. Everyone arriving after will be in the Waiting Room until the service is ready to begin.

**Our Yahrzeit list will be read before Kaddish at Erev Rosh Hashanah and Kol Nidre services only, not in the morning.

Saturday, September 19th

Rosh Hashanah Family Service – 9:00 am

Digital Oneg – 9:30 am

Rosh Hashanah Kahoot – 9:30 am

Rosh Hashanah Reverse Scavenger Hunt – 9:30 am

Sha’maginations (Tot) Service – 10:15 am

Digital Lobby – 10:40 am

If you would like to schmooze before the service, please be in the digital lobby by 6:45 pm. Everyone arriving after will be in the Waiting Room until the service is ready to begin.

Teen Lobby – 10:40 am

Rosh Hashanah Adult Service – 11:00 am

Torah Study – 11:45 am

Teen Text Study – 11:45 am

Shofar Sounding – 3:00 pm, at various locations. Space is limited; click here to sign up.

  • We ask that members remain mindful of the precautions outlined by local, state, and federal agencies with respect to COVID-19 when they participate in activities that are related to NVHC. Please wear a mask, maintain social distancing and avoid in-person activity if you are ill, or believe you may be ill as the result of exposure to COVID-19.

Tashlich, on your own

Havdalah – 6:00 pm

High school/College Havdalah – 6:00 pm

Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur has traditionally been a time of community worship where we experience the spiritual power of the day together. To overcome our being physically apart from one another and the distractions of being at home, please consider in advance how you can create a meaningful experience at home this year, using our schedule of the day as well as embracing our core values of t’shuvah (repentance), t’filah (prayer), and tzedakah (righteous acts).

There is great power in preparing for the mitzvah of observing Yom Kippur. Embrace your preparation as part of this day, in order to bring even more meaning to the day itself. Here are some other things to think about for these days of preparing. Read the descriptions below in order for you to plan out your day of observance.

Remember to wear white!

Sunday, September 27

Kol Nidre Family Experience

Digital Doors Open – 6:30 pm
Service – 6:45 pm

Kol Nidre Adult Experience

Digital Doors Open – 7:45 pm
Service – 8:00 pm*

*Our Yahrzeit list will be read before Kaddish at our Kol Nidre Adult service only.

Monday, September 28

*Our digital Reflection Room will be open from 9:00 am through 6:15 pm.

This online space will be open all day for you to come and go, with visual and musical content to inspire time for reflection and nurture your soul.  You will be able to ‘chat’ with others (in writing) or just sit and take in the content for your own quiet time, whether sitting or taking a walk when you need during the day.

Early Morning Hashkamah (Awakening) Service – 8:30 am

Get yourself going with our morning prayers to rouse the spirit, nurture the soul with prayer and music (in place of eating!), and begin your day’s journey of atonement.

Family Service – 9:30-10:00 am

Using our new High Holy Day machzor designed for families, our worship service will focus on the spirit of making amends through prayer and song, in a family-directed way. Remember to join us later to hear the chanting of Torah!

Family T’shuvah Activity – 10:00-10:45 am

What are your hopes for yourself for the coming year? Where might you want to change, why, and how? Join us for letter writing time, and optional sharing. Parents and children welcome.

Prayer & Movement – 10:00 -10:30 am

Intentionally nourishing the mind-body connection on Yom Kippur, when we are hoping to gain clarity and insight for change, mindful movement can help to facilitate that mindset and heart-set. All movement will be able to be accommodated in a seated position as needed.

Teen Spiritual Warm Up – 10:00-11:00 am

This is a time to check in with yourself and your teen peers about how you are feeling about and preparing yourself for this sacred day.

Sha’maginations (Tot) Service – 10:15-10:45 am

A prayer-filled, music-filled, story-filled time for our smallest people to experience the ways we say we are sorry.

Torah Reading Service – 11:00-11:30 am

The Torah portion Nitzavim reminds us that we all stand together this day, across all lands and all generations to choose how we live. This is the only Torah reading experience of the day, for all of our generations, together as one large community.

Yom Kippur Adult Service – 11:30 am-12:15 pm

Continuing directly from our experience of Torah, we will enter into prayer together, to focus on the essence of the day – the support of communal prayer for our personal journeys of making confession and atonement.

Young Family Story Time – 12:15-12:45 pm

We will be reading some Yom Kippur favorites. Parents / caregivers: please have paper and crayons or markers in case your child(ren) want to draw as we read.

Yizkor – 1:00-1:30 pm

Our service of remembrance and memory, honoring all those who we have loved and lost. As we have stood among the generations to hear Torah, we are connected here to those who have gone before us. This experience will include a video seeing the lights and names of our memorial boards.

Family Yizkor Experience – 1:00-1:30 pm

A guided discussion to encourage sharing stories of family members – who are children named for? A remembrance of their values and your hopes for your children.

Afternoon Vidui (Confession) Service – 1:45-2:15 pm

We rejoin together for our next prayer experience, during the spiritual depths of the day to recite our prayers of confession and hear the words of Isaiah that call us to repair ourselves and the world once again.

Text/Music Exploration: The Words and Melodies of Avinu Malkeinu – 2:30-3:15 pm

We will delve into the history and development of these words over time, and how various musical settings highlight the spiritual meanings of this text.

Text Study: Parshat Kedoshim – 3:15-4:15 pm

A deep dive into the ‘Holiness Code’ (Leviticus 19) that is traditionally read on Yom Kippur afternoon.

Teen Discussion – 3:15-4:15 pm

This is an opportunity for our teens to gather for a discussion on the meaning and purpose of this day.

Guided Meditation: Exploring the Centrality of the Sh’ma in Our T’shuvah – 4:15-4:45 pm

A time of guided reflection, journeying through the months of the Jewish year to connect to the essence of who you are so that your strengths can become actions, doing the sacred work of bringing repair and wholeness to the world.

Family Story Time – 4:45-5:45 pm

Another time for listening to the reading of Yom Kippur stories. Parents / caregivers: please have paper and crayons or markers in case your child(ren) want to draw as we read.

Closing Vidui (Confession) Service – 4:45-5:15 pm

Our last recitation of our Vidui, our prayers of confession and atonement, in the context of how we can begin to enter the ‘gates of righteousness’, moving toward hope in the future.

Movement Towards Wholeness – 5:30-6:00 pm

Making connections between our bodies and our spirits, to move beyond the stiffness of the day (sitting at a computer), with the setting sun toward the possibilities ahead. All movement will be able to be accommodated in a seated position as needed.

Ne’ilah/Havdalah – Closing of Yom Kippur – 6:15 pm

Our final gathering of the day, to imagine and be inspired for the year ahead with prayer and music. We will hear the final call of the shofar, and end with Havdalah to separate and move ourselves ahead. (Remember to arrange a way for yourself to join online with family, friends and loved ones and share a ‘zoom meal’ to break the fast!)

Please note you must be registered to receive the Zoom links for all of these experiences. All registrants will receive a PDF with all Zoom links prior to the holiday.

The 7 Weeks

Our journey to the High Holy Days begins this week with the first of the 7 Weeks. These 7 weeks begin with Tisha B’av (the 9th day of the month of Av) which marks the destruction of the First and Second Temples, as well as other acts of destruction and persecution; they end with Rosh Hashanah. From grief to growth and from loss to discovery.

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi taught that 49 days of these 7 weeks parallel the 49 days of the Counting of the Omer. During the Counting of the Omer we focus on seven qualities that we and God share: Chesed (Loving Kindness), Gevurah (Strength of Character), Tiferet (Glory), Netzach (Eternity), Hod (Splendor), Yesod (Foundation) and Malchut (Sovereignty). During the 7 Weeks from Tisha B’Av to Rosh Hashanah, we explore these middot (values) in reverse order – from Malchut to Chesed. This year, we will use these middot during the 7 Weeks and Elul to help us prepare for the High Holy Days ahead.

We will have a wide variety of programs, activities, and opportunities to engage with and reflect on these middot and the themes of the 7 Weeks, as well as ways to share in preparation for the High Holy Days while we are distanced from each other.

Rosh Hashanah

  • Symbolize the white robes, table cover and Torah Covers that elevate the High Holy Days by having every member of NVHC wear white at home.
  • Gather as a whole community at 7:00 pm on Erev Rosh Hashanah to announce the New Year with a single shofar blast by zoom, followed by a festive service.
  • Family, Tot, and Community services at various times on Rosh Hashanah morning, each followed by options for study, socializing, meditation and learning.
  • Torah Reading by Torah Cam which allows everyone to see the text as it is read.
  • Family cooking class to prepare Rosh Hashanah foods during the afternoon.
  • mIn the afternoon, multiple sites for in-person outdoor drive-in shofar service, followed by instructions for tashlich.
  • Teen and College student gatherings

The 10 Days

  • Yom Kippur at Home – How Can I Do That? – 9/22, 6:15pm
  • How to Apologize, Criticize, and Forgive – 9/23, 7:00pm
  • Morning Mindfulness – Thursdays, 9:00am
  • The Daily 3: three daily options for reflection on a theme, prayer, or text of the High Holy Days.
  • Opportunities for private family prayer before the Ark in the sanctuary, by appointment.
  • Drop off opportunities for food for Cornerstones food drive (did you know that our High Holy Drive fills the Cornerstones food pantry for 2 months at a time before Thanksgiving when the pantry would otherwise be bare?)
  • Invitation to help Get Out the Vote for the upcoming elections
  • Mad-libs for each person or family to express the meaning of the Holy Days
  • Congregational opt-in phone chain to share Holy Day greetings and mad-lib results

Yom Kippur

  • Yom Kippur at Home – How Can I Do That?
  • How to Apologize, Criticize, and Forgive
  • An all-day digital Reflection Room, to engage with other members, with times for reflection and shared experience
  • Unique online worship experiences
  • An expanded digital Yizkor book of remembrance, to include photos and brief written remembrances of our loved ones
  • Musical playlists, presentations, and guided meditations to fill our your day
  • Various learning sessions related to holiday prayers, music, and sermons
  • Torah reading on Torah cam for the entire community to experience and see together
  • Experiences for Tots and Young Families


What better year than this year to add a room to your house? A little getaway space right there in your yard? Build a sukkah this year!

In Leviticus 23:42-43 we are taught, “You shall live in booths seven days in order that future generations may know that I made the Israelite people live in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt.” The sukkah symbolizes the booths or tents in which the Jewish people lived during their forty years of wandering.

Sukkot is also a return to nature, a harvest festival, and a time for welcoming guests. While the Israelites didn’t have Zoom, we do! So we will find ways during this holiday to come together with joy.

Simchat Torah

Simchat Torah is a time of “rejoicing with the Torah.” We mark the end of the annual cycle of torah reading, and joyously launch a new year.

While we will be physically distant this year, please join our Friday night service on October 9th for a fun and joyful celebration of the Torah.