A Very Unusual and Appreciated Yom Kippur Service

This year, as we have done for almost 20 years, our family led High Holiday services at Five Star Premier Residences of Chevy Chase – a senior living community.  Due to the pandemic, we were unable to be there in 2020, but this year we were determined to find a way.  We arrived as a group of eight, plus a recorded version of Cantor Laura Croen chanting the major prayers, and with Ted Rosen accompanying shofar.

The plan was to hold services outside on the patio, but the weather did not cooperate.  Instead, it flash-flooded, complete with g thunder and lightning.  We did not feel comfortable going inside given  unvaccinated young children in our family, so we found a compromise.  As seen below, the residents remained inside and masked. We led our service from  outside, underneath a tailgate tent, and used a microphone to transmit the liturgy and music inside to the Five Star congregation.

From the outside, we relied on residents’ cues regarding our volume (see the photo below).  A pole attached to the awning covering us had to be raised every few minutes to drain the rain water to prevent it from collapsing.

In past years, when we’ve been inside and together with the residents, we could see how the service, and particularly the music, transported them to a place rich with memories and meaning.  This year, it was impossible to see through the window that was covered in rain and difficult to hear their responsive reading through the thunder.  Even with the challenges, it was wonderful to be back at Five Star and to bring services to a community that otherwise wouldn’t be able to participate in the High Holy Days.

Although they thank us for coming every year, we are the ones most grateful for the opportunity to share the holiday with them.   It is a very rewarding and moving experience for us.

Patrice and Barney Feinstein
Kimmy Feinstein
Deena Feinstein Krulewitz and Adam Krulewitz
Emily, John and Maddie Havnewitz