High Holidays 2019

Program Details


Additional Info

Sunday, September 29, 2019
Queen Anne
Like all Kavana programs, this event is powered by partners, staff and participants.
Volunteer to helpMeet the staff

The High Holidays are a very special time at Kavana, and we'd love for you to be part of our community as we celebrate the start of a new year together.  

Kavana's mission is to "empower participants to create a meaningful Jewish life" -- which means that the choice is yours to decide where you want to be; think of it as a "choose your own adventure" High Holiday experience!  This year, more than ever, we will offer a wide array of services and programs to meet the needs of our diverse Jewish community.  So, whatever path(s) you choose -- meals, family/kids' programming, traditional services, musical & contemplative services, meditation and yoga, learning sessions, or some combo of all of these -- we hope that these holidays will provide you with an opportunity for serious reflection and introspection, a feeling of newness, and a commitment to growth and betterment of the self, the community, and the world.


- Location: The High Holiday services and programs will take place in two different locations in Queen Anne (we have reserved two venues just a few blocks apart to enable ease of participation and movement between offerings!). Location details for all High Holiday events will be sent once you register and payment has been received.

- Cost: We request $18 per partner, $250 per non-partner, to help us cover the many costs of making these holidays happen!  Please see the Q&A section below for pricing details and send us an email if you have any questions. 

- Registration: Advanced registration is required. Once your payment has been received, you will be sent an email with the schedule and location details.

- Schedule: Click here for the full detailed schedule (note that we're working through a few last minute details, so we'll send a final confirmation of the schedule to those who register). At a glance you can expect the following:

Tuesday, October 8th
Traditional Kol Nidre Service
Musical and Contemplative Kol Nidre Service
Kids' Kol Nidre Service

Wednesday, October 9th
Yom Kippur Traditional Morning Service
Family Service & Programs
Musical & Contemplative Service
Youth Torah Discussion
Electives (yoga, meditation, etc.)
Book of Jonah study
Neilah Service
Break-the-Fast Meal


Can I come?  Can I bring a guest?  

Short answer: YES - if you're looking for Jewish community and a meaningful High Holiday experience, this is the place for you, whether you are a Kavana partner or not. 

What are the services like? 

At Kavana, we reject the one-size-fits-all approach to Judaism, and we encourage you to choose the service that will be the best fit for you.  

- The services described as "traditional" will follow the outline of the traditional High Holiday machzor, with prayers recited mostly in Hebrew, although of course we'll attempt to make the traditional liturgy accessible and approachable in a number of ways.  

- The service described as "musical & contemplative" will be shorter, with a mix of Hebrew and English, and will include more kavanot/intentions, and will have guitar accompaniment; it may incorporate short meditative moments as well. In short, we say fewer words but savor them through song, contemplation, and... Kavana (intention)! 

- Family Services on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur mornings are designed with preschool and elementary school aged children in mind, with lots of singing, stories, and opportunities for movement and engagement. 

How can I get the most out of my High Holiday experience?  
(i.e. I'm concerned because I don't know anyone / I don't have a strong Jewish background / etc.) 

At Kavana, we believe that everyone is responsible for his or her own Jewish experience -- in other words, YOU have the power to make the High Holidays work for you. A few words of advice from Rabbi Rachel: 

A) It's really helpful to prepare before you come. First, to prepare at home, simply consider the year that's gone by and what "work" you want to do during the holidays this year.  The goal of these holidays is to reconnect with your best self; what do you need to think about in order to get there? Second, take some time to look over the schedule in advance and map out where you want to be then (just like you would if you were attending a conference with lots of sessions happening simultaneously).  

 B) Introduce yourself to the Kavana staff and/or to the people sitting around you.  Kavana is a really friendly community, but you may have to take the initiative.  

C) Because people in our community are coming from so many different backgrounds, it's impossible to create services that are the perfect fit for everyone.  We may use too much Hebrew, not enough Hebrew, the "wrong" tunes, etc. -- whatever the case, please forgive us and go with the flow.  You have our permission to be on any page you like, to bring your own favorite prayerbook, to get up and check out a different offering, etc. -- whatever it takes to make this communal experience the right personal fit for you.

Why is the cost for non-partners so high?  (Or, common variations on this theme include: What if I am only coming for Yom Kippur?  What about for children - do I need to pay for them too?  What if I just want to come check it out, want to bring a guest, etc.?) 

We recognize that the requested registration amount of $250/person may seem like a lot. In truth, this amount reflects the real costs of the infrastructure Kavana needs to be able to offer our holiday services and programs (think: providing rabbis, administrative support, multiple spaces, prayerbooks, educators, etc.) -- and as a non-profit organization, we are simply aiming to cover our costs.  Kavana partners pay less at the High Holidays because their annual contributions already help to cover our operating costs. Ultimately, we hope that everyone who wants to can participate in Kavana's High Holiday experience. We would much rather have you attend (and bring your parents/friends/neighbors) than pass up the opportunity because you are concerned about the cost!  We hope that you will consider paying the "fair share"/requested amount if you are able; this is the time of year to be generous and communal-minded, and it is your support that allows us to keep our services and programs open to the community.  But, if the requested amount feels too daunting for whatever reason, please think about what you can afford and enter that amount on the registration form.  (We don't need to get into the details of your finances, and we trust you to figure out an appropriate amount for you.)

Is this a good time to join Kavana as a partner? 

Yes, we would much rather have this be a relationship and not a transaction, and for many people, the High Holidays are indeed the perfect entry point! If you've already explored the Kavana community as a participant and have a sense that this is a good fit for you, by all means please email us about becoming a partner.  (We'll send you a Partner Intake Form, get a meeting for you on Rabbi Rachel's calendar, and then of course you can register for the High Holidays at the partner rate.)  Or, if the High Holidays this year will be your first Kavana exposure, we actually would encourage you to come, check it out, and then decide whether this community is the right fit.  If you choose to join as a partner before the end of calendar year 2019, we will happily apply any High Holiday payments above $18/person towards your first partner contribution.

Can I participate in services in some way?  

Yes, please!  We're always happy to have volunteers to take on all kinds of roles - from Torah reading to English readings to shofar blowing.  Please email us to volunteer, and let us know which services you're planning to attend.

What else can I do to help? 

 Kavana is a cooperative, and we consider everyone a volunteer!  The High Holidays are a huge production, with many moving pieces and multiple venues; we always need lots of support around set-up and clean-up, schlepping, food prep, greeting, etc.!  The registration form will give you a chance to express your preferences, and we'll be in touch.  Whether you end up with a formal volunteer slot or not, please join into the "community spirit" of Kavana by pitching in whenever you see an opportunity, building relationships with other attendees, and sharing your feedback with us.

Program Staff

Rabbi Rachel Nussbaum
Rabbi Rachel Nussbaum
Rabbi and Executive Director

On any given day, you might find Rachel meeting with new partners, preparing for life- cycle events, teaching Torah, pondering next year’s budget, or trying to keep her inbox below 1000 new messages!  She also enjoys leading spirited prayer services and believes in the role of Judaism in working toward the principles of justice and service. Rachel co­-founded Kavana in 2006 with Suzi LeVine, and since then has received national recognition and awards for her work. She is a native of Charleston and was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary.

Rabbi Josh Weisman
Rabbi Josh Weisman
J.E.N. Rabbinic Fellow

Josh's Jewish path has been eclectic and D.I.Y., which we think makes it pretty normal these days and definitely in sync with Kavana! Prior to rabbinical school, Josh worked for 12 years in non-profits, mostly as a grass-roots organizer. During that time, he worked for several years as a congregation-based community organizer, where he experienced the power of religious communities to transform the world and transform themselves in the process. Josh later helped to launch a Jewish start-up. Josh moved from Boston to Seattle with his wife and two young children to be Kavana's JEN Rabbinic Fellow because he feels that the Kavana and JEN communities reflect his  journey and his approach to Jewish community.

Cara Abrams-Simonton
Cara Abrams-Simonton
Director of Education

As Director of Education, Cara is responsible for ensuring that Kavana’s educational vision is being implemented across the board. Her experience in formal and informal Jewish educational settings position her well to oversee our after-school programs, from designing curriculum to working with our educators on professional development. In addition to our weekly programs, Cara supports families through the B'Nei Mitzvah process as well as our other youth and family programming. Outside of her work with Kavana, Cara enjoys cooking with her husband Tony, connecting with new people, and volunteering as Co-Chair of Limmud Seattle.

Maxine Alloway
Maxine Alloway

Maxine helps guides the big­ picture of Kavana’s educational approach, designing curriculum and working with our educators on professional development. She also leads the Havdalah Club and Prep & Practice programs. Outside of her work with us, Maxine is a faculty member in the University of Washington's College of Education, working primarily with soon­-to-­be elementary school teachers.