Observing the Jewish High Holy Days at Paul’s Run

September 8, 2023

Shofar horn on Israel flag

For Jewish residents at Paul’s Run retirement community in northeast Philadelphia, PA, as for Jews the world over, the important High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in September frame the intense reflective period known as 10 Days of Repentance between the Jewish New Year and Day of Atonement. Reverend Michelle Wildridge, Director of Spiritual Life at Paul’s Run, explains how the High Holy Days will be observed there this month.

At Paul’s Run, Jewish residents as well as some of the Catholic Sisters who live here, along with Protestant residents, respectfully embrace aspects of the tradition together, as a way to honor the interfaith spirit that exists within the community, and as a way to learn more about one another’s cultural, spiritual, and religious lives.

They want to participate in the customs, and to understand more about their historical significance.

Paul's Run residents enjoy Apples with honey for Rosh Hashanah.

There are two rabbis who lead services and help us to properly observe the Jewish High Holy days with our residents. Rosh Hashanah begins Friday evening, Sept. 15th and is observed until sundown on Sunday, Sept. 17th, so there will be a service on the 16th here at 2 p.m. and then a special meal that reflects the traditions of the High Holy Days will be offered by Dining Services.

Typically, people enjoy eating either roast chicken or a brisket. In keeping with tradition, most people also eat baked apples and honey, or some like eating an apple and honey rice Kugel, so our Dining Services team creates delicious dishes with those in mind, during this period every year.

Jewish man blows the Shofar of Rosh Hashanah
Depiction of four Rabbis standing in a desert.

On Sept. 18th, there will be a Tashlich Service at 1 p.m. for residents, which represents a casting off of sins ceremony on the afternoon of the first day of Rosh Hashanah which has historically been symbolized by the tossing of pebbles of bread into flowing water.

Then, on the 24th, for Yom Kippur, there will be a Kol Nidre Service at 6:30 pm. Kol Nidre is a prayer sung at the beginning of the service, which is an expression of repentance for unfulfilled vows, oaths, or promises made to God over the last year.

On the 25th of September, there will be a second Yom Kippur Service at 10:30 a.m. and on the 28th there will be Sukkah Decorating for residents, with treats and a special meal served later. The Sukkah is a wilderness shelter, commemorating the time God provided for the Israelites in the wilderness they inhabited after they were freed from slavery in Egypt. Many people of all faiths in our community enjoy decorating the Sukkah together, and it is a joy to behold.