NEW JERSEY (CBSNewYork) – The high holidays on the Jewish calendar are approaching with Rosh Hashanah beginning Friday.

But, the coronavirus pandemic means services will look very different, CBS2’s Nick Caloway reported.

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This Jewish new year will be ushered in in a whole new way in 2020. Many services for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur will go virtual.

“The High Holy Days are usually our largest in-person gatherings of the year. So that poses a tremendous challenge for us,” said Rabbi Noah Fabricant, of Kol Dorot – A Reform Jewish Community in Oradell, N.J.

The synagogue is offering a live stream of its main services, along with some family services held in-person, outdoors at a park with masks and social distancing.

“We’re trying to meet all the needs and make sure that we’re reaching as many people as we can,” Fabricant said.


Rabbis around the world are trying to recreate a sense of togetherness, even if being together is impossible.

“There’s been a tremendous effort put on keeping those connections strong, even though we’re physically at a distance,” said Rabbi Hara Person, who heads the Central Conference of American Rabbis.

Even with some outdoor services available, many worshipers are still wary of being in a crowd.

“We still don’t feel comfortable attending a large gathering, particularly because this holiday has a lot of singing,” said Carla Fels, of Ridgewood.

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Jane Rosen, of Ho-Ho-Kus, said her family will rely on the live stream, too. COVID-19 concerns canceled her family’s typically large gatherings this year.

“We’re sad about it, needless to say. But it’s really the safest thing for us during this very challenging time with the pandemic,” Rosen said.

She’s not alone.

Zadie’s Bake Shop in Fair Lawn is scaling down the size of its honey cakes to accommodate smaller gatherings.

“People aren’t going to be having company over this year, or going out to family. It’s probably going to be more of an intimate setting,” said Adam Steinberg, who works at the bakery.

Rabbi Fabricant recommended taking this opportunity to experience different aspects of the holidays.

“To read some of the words that we’ve never really listened to before. And, really, maybe have a different kind of experience, but that is also powerful and transformative… because we’re in such a different place,” he said.

Rosh Hashanah starts Friday evening and ends Sunday evening.

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