Sign In Forgot Password

High Holy Days

The High Holy Days are known by a number of names. Some refer to this sacred time in the Jewish calendar as the “High Holidays.” Others refer to period of time as “Days of Awe” or Yamim Noraim in Hebrew. Generally speaking, when people speak of the High Holy Days, they are specifically referring to two of the holiest days of the year: Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. These two holy days bookend the Ten Days of Repentance (Aseret Yemei Teshuvah in Hebrew) and tend to be the congregational worship services which attract the most participants. 

The High Holy Days are periods of introspection and prayer. Our worship invites us to look inward and reflect on our past year, learning from our mistakes, righting those whom we may have wronged, reconnecting with God and the people in our lives, and pledging to improve ourselves and our world. Our services are filled with prayers and songs, as well as rituals which unite us as a sacred community and as family and friends.

In Jewish tradition, the Hebrew month Elul, which precedes the High Holy Days and the days and additional Holy Days that follow are of great importance. Here, you will find general information and additional links regarding Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Guide to the High Holy Days for Interfaith Families

High Holy Days at Beth Tikvah Congregation

We hold a variety of High Holy Days Services geared toward different segments of our community. Please view our Calendar, and our High Holy Day Booklet to get complete, up-to-date information regarding the various High Holy Days Services offered. Please click for all necessary forms.

Since Jewish days begin in the evening, members of Beth Tikvah Congregation - like Jews around the world - observe our first Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur worship service in the evening. Please check our calendar for the dates and times of these services.

Expand all Collapse all

Congregational Services

The congregational services are liturgically comprehensive. The sermon topics are related to adults and children 5th grade and older. For families who wish to worship together, please be responsible to maintain the dignity of the service. If your children require a meal, please step out of the service and return at an appropriate time. The music includes participation melodies as well as choral settings.

Children’s Services

Concurrently with the morning Congregational Services, two separate services will be held: one for four-year-olds through 1st Graders, and the other for 2nd through 4th Graders. The prayers and music are appropriate for younger children.

The Family Preschool Services are designed for preschoolers 3-years-old or younger. Our youngest members are engaged with age-appropriate stories and singing while sitting together on the floor with their family. These services are held at Beth Tikvah after the Congregational Services.

Special Needs

The Men’s Club ushers and Temple Board greeters will help provide for your special needs. They can be easily identified by their lapel flower. If you forgot your tickets, they will assist you to have temporary tickets prepared. If you or any member of your party requires special seating for wheelchair accessibility, please notify an usher. They will also work with the Youth Group to help you at the Temple with your grocery bags of donations. If you need any emergency or health-related assistance during Services, please ask one of the ushers.

We use Mishkan HaNefesh as the High Holy Day prayerbook. We have an ample supply of books. If you wish to purchase your own copy, they are available through the Sisterhood Gift Shop.


Attire at High Holy Day Services tends to be more formal than other worship and holiday experiences throughout the year. We recommend more conservative clothing.

Location & Parking

Rosh Hashanah, Kol  Nidre, and Yom Kippur Services are held at Holy Family Parish because of limited space in the Beth Tikvah Congregational sanctuary, and out of a desire for the congregation to be together at this sacred time. By going off-site, we will feel the strength and joy that comes from a thousand voices joined in prayer.

Selichot, Rosh Hashanah Day Two, and Yom Kippur afternoon services are held at Beth Tikvah Congregation and are open to members and non-members alike.

Parking lot space is ample for our services at Holy Family Parish. There are many handicap accessible spaces near the front entrance. There is also a drop-off entrance to allow you to drop-off those with limited mobility before parking.


It is an established Jewish custom, emerging from the High Holy Day liturgy, that we make gifts to those in need. Prayer, repentance, and Tzedakah shape our destiny. On Rosh Hashanah, you will receive a grocery bag with a shopping list. We ask that you fill it with non-perishables and return it to Beth Tikvah by Kol Nidre.

The Confirmation class will sort the items. The kosher items will go to  The Ark, and the non-kosher items will go to the Schaumburg and Palatine Township food pantries.


During the Yom Kippur Yizkor Service we will remember our loved ones by reading aloud the names of Temple members and close relatives who have died since last Yom Kippur, as well as previous Beth Tikvah members who have died in years past. Printed in the Book of Remembrance will be all names memorialized on the Yahrzeit boards (automatically included), as well as all names submitted by our members on the Yizkor Form, whether they were Beth Tikvah members or not.

High Holy Day Ticket Policy

Tickets are required for Erev Rosh Hashanah, Rosh Hashanah, Kol Nidre, and Yom Kippur services. In order to receive tickets, please fill out the Ticket Request Form and return it as soon as possible to the temple office. Please bring your tickets to services, as they are required for admission.

Expand all Collapse all


As part of the privileges of Membership in Beth Tikvah Congregation (BTC), members are entitled to the following for High Holy Day services: Single Membership entitles you to one ticket at no cost; Family Membership entitles you to tickets at no cost for all resident family members (including adult dependents whose permanent residence is with the members).


Children of members may attend services at no cost. Children in 5th Grade and older are encouraged to attend the Congregational Services with a ticket issued at no cost. (Please include them on the Ticket Request Form.) Children 4 years old through 4th Grade are welcome to attend the Children’s Services concurrent with morning services at Holy Family (no tickets issued). Children 0 through 4 years old are encouraged to attend the Family Preschool Services with their parents after the Congregational Service is finished.


Non-members can attend Beth Tikvah High Holy Day Services by submitting the Non-Member Ticket Request Form. Relatives of Beth Tikvah Members can purchase tickets for $100 per person for both High Holy Days (Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur), or for $75 per person for one High Holy Day. Non-members can purchase tickets for $200 per person by contacting the temple office. People who live within the Beth Tikvah area (e.g. adult children) are encouraged to become Temple members and receive their own High Holy Day tickets at no cost.

Out Of Town

If Beth Tikvah members will be out of town during the High Holy Days, they can contact the Beth Tikvah office to receive reciprocal tickets for the Union of Reform Judaism (URJ) congregation in the area where they will be.

Details about each Holy Day

Expand all Collapse all


Selichot, a Hebrew word meaning “forgiveness,” refers to the special penitential prayers recited by Jews during the High Holy Day season. The Selichot liturgy contains some of the finest Jewish religious poetry ever composed. Reform congregations usually observe Selichot on the Saturday night just prior to Rosh Hashanah - a solemn and fitting preparation for ten days of reflection and self-examination. At Beth Tikvah, our evening of Selichot worship and study takes place on the Saturday night immediately preceding the first night of Rosh Hashanah, dependent upon which day of the week Rosh Hashanah begins. Please view our Calendar to determine its exact date.

Selichot - with its haunting music lead by our choir, and with penitential prayers - is intended to instill a mood of anticipation that serves as a prelude to the sacred themes of the Days of Awe. Each year our worship service is preceded by a short, engaging study session, as well as a dessert reception. The evening concludes with the blast of the shofar which urges participants to reflect upon their lives and to initiate desirable life changes. Our Selichot Services and study sessions are open to all and we hope you will consider joining us for this moving and inspirational night of prayer, introspection and study.

Learn more about Selichot

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah literally means “Head of the Year,” and refers to the celebration of a new Jewish year. This holiday, on the first day of the Hebrew month of Tishri, marks the beginning of the Days of Awe, and provides an opportunity for each of us to examine our actions from the preceding year through prayer. Rosh Hashanah is a joyous and meaningful holiday celebrated by special customs, such as gathering together as a sacred community, sounding the shofar, and eating apples and honey and round challah.

Learn more about Rosh Hashanah


After the conclusion of services on the First Day of Rosh Hashanah, our congregation participates in a ritual called Tashlich. Tashlich means “to cast or throw.” It is a tradition on Rosh Hashanah to go to a river or a stream to symbolically cast our sins into the water. The key passage in this ceremony, which sometimes involves throwing pocket lint or bread crumbs into the water, is from Micah 7:19: “God will have compassion upon us: God will subdue our iniquities and you will cast (tashlich) all their sins into the depths of the sea.” Metaphorically, as the eyes of fish never close, so God always watches for our sins to be cast away. The service and songs are appropriate for members of all ages.

Shabbat Shuvah

Shabbat Shuvah - the "Shabbat of Returning" - falls each year between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. It's placement in our season allows us to focus on repentance, mindfulness, and renewal in a quiet way. At Beth Tikvah we create a warm atmosphere of calm and intimacy at this service; like a small - but nonetheless precious - jewel, placed in the crown of the royal pair of High Holy Days on either side. The start time and format for this service will align with our regular Shabbat worship calendar.

Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur means "Day of Atonement" and refers to the annual Jewish observance of fasting, prayer and repentance. Yom Kippur is considered the holiest day of the Jewish year. In three separate passages in the Torah, the Jewish people are told, "the tenth day of the seventh month is the Day of Atonement. It shall be a sacred occasion for you: You shall practice self-denial" (Leviticus 23:27). Fasting is seen as fulfilling this biblical commandment. The Yom Kippur fast also enables us to put aside our physical desires to concentrate on our spiritual needs through prayer, repentance, and self-improvement.

Yom Kippur is the moment in Jewish time when we dedicate our mind, body, and soul to reconciliation with God, our fellow human beings, and ourselves. We are commanded to turn to those whom we have wronged first, acknowledging our sins and the pain we might have caused. At the same time, we must be willing to forgive and to let go of certain offenses and the feelings of resentment they provoked in us. On this journey we are both seekers and givers of pardon. Only then can we turn to God and ask for forgiveness: “And for all these, God of forgiveness, forgive us, pardon us, and grant us atonement.”

Learn more about Yom Kippur

Fri, August 7 2020 17 Av 5780