Jewish people in the Bangor area will mark Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in a very different fashion this year due to restrictions from the coronavirus pandemic.
Two local synagogues — conservative Congregation Beth Israel and reform Congregation Beth El — will host both online and outdoor services this weekend for Rosh Hashanah, while a third, orthodox Congregation Beth Abraham, will host indoor services with COVID-19 protocols in place.
Rosh Hashanah begins Friday night and celebrates the arrival of the Jewish New Year, which this year is 5781. Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, is 10 days later, following a period called the Days of Awe.
Rosh Hashanah services at Beth El will be held online at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. Saturday. On Sunday, the temple will hold a family service outdoors at the Bangor Waterfront at 10 a.m., with masks and social distancing required. Also on Sunday, a number of eastern Maine congregants will host regional gatherings at their homes for the Tashlikh, an atonement ritual, in Blue Hill, Belfast, Dedham, Mt. Desert Island and Orono.
Beth Israel will hold its Rosh Hashanah services outdoors this year, in a canopy beside its synagogue at 144 York St. Four Rosh Hashanah services will be held at 9 and 11:30 a.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, with a maximum of 30 people in attendance for each service. Services are only open to Beth Israel members and their immediate Maine-based family members, and no children under the age of 10 will be allowed.
Beth Abraham will have its traditional services indoors at its temple at 145 York St. both this weekend and next, but on Sunday it will also host a “Shofar in the Park” event at 3 p.m. at Broadway Park, featuring the blowing of the shofar, a musical horn made from a ram’s horn that is traditionally played during the high holidays.
Yom Kippur services will be held in the evening on Sunday, Sept. 27 and the morning of Monday, Sept. 28, with Beth El hosting online services, Beth Israel hosting in-person services by reservation as well as online services, and Beth Abraham hosting in-person services.