Perspectives on the 2020 High Holy Days – Part 2

This post is part of our series: Perspectives on the 2020 High Holy Days. (Click here to see a list of all the posts in this series.)

In this post, we hear from members of the AJRCA community about how the attendance at their services and activities this year (online and in-person).

If you attended services (either virtually or in-person), you may have noticed a difference in the size of the audience this year — and our responses mostly supported that. Here is a sampling:


All services thus far – Shabbat, Selichot, HHDs, have had better attendance than in person. Could track number of screens when livestreaming, but not number of participants. Only program with lower attendance is religious school. Families are tired of Zoom schooling.

Rabbi Bonnie Sharfman (’05)
Congregation Kehillah, Phoenix, Arizona

The numbers were about the same, but the length of time that people tuned in varied greatly. When you show up for a service, you are there until the end. While at home people tuned in throughout the service, and many watched at times other than the listed start time and later in the week.

Cantor Lisa Peicott (’18)
Wilshire Boulevard Temple, Los Angeles, California

Higher attendance on most, except much lower for Tot services.

Abby Gostein, Cantorial Student
Temple Beth Shalom, Austin, Texas

We had about 40 people on Zoom and about 15-20 inside the shul. There are many people that actually fear of coming to the synagogue, yet we have distance seating, masks, hand washing stations, etc. but elderly folks just won’t face joining any live services until a vaccine is ready.

Cantor Bruce Shapiro (’17) and Congregation President Bruce Rouman
Congregation Beth Shalom, Corona, California

The number was about the same, but different people. There were many new people who watched, and many others who just couldn’t get themselves to use a computer in this way.

Rabbi Alicia Magal (’03)
Jewish Community of Sedona and the Verde Valley, Sedona, Arizona

A. While we had no way of recording exact numbers, we did review the number of views recorded on our YouTube channel. Since this was a brand new collaboration, we had no idea how many people to expect. YouTube views of course were by household rather than by individual, whereas any previous numbers were by individual. Tough to compare, but I think we got about the participation one would expect.

B. Again, using Zoom we were able to record the number of households in attendance rather than individuals. In past years, I have always done my own head count at every service, and I would say that numbers were comparable to usual attendance.

Sarah Bollt, Cantorial Student
Congregation Or Chadesh (A) and Institute of Judaic Services and Studies (B) Tucson, Arizona

Thanks so much to all who shared their reflections. Please share your own HHD experiences in the comments area below!

Click here to read the next post in the series — focused on personal preparation, and a full list of the posts in this Series can be found here.

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