The unique history of High Holidays observances at Kehilat Chaverim

A group of us first gathered in 1978 to discuss what kind of “alternative Jewish community,” as we referred to it then, we wanted. We agreed that it should be inclusive in every sense—with services for people with some, a little, or no Jewish background. For those who couldn’t read Hebrew, we would translate, transliterate and explain the words.

Rather than use a traditional service book, we wrote our own, incorporating prayers and recitations that we felt were meaningful. Rather than appoint a single leader, members participated by taking responsibility for organizing and running the services.

From the beginning, different members have volunteered to chant Kol Nidre. On Yom Kippur day, we incorporate the Yizkor (memorial service) into the larger service and in so doing encourage members to share a piece of writing about a deceased family member or friend.

As part of our 10th anniversary, we published the first volume of Fond Remembrances, a collection of these memorial writings. For our 30th anniversary, we published a second volume. These books bear testimony to our seriousness, longevity, and ability to create something that is unique, yet familiar and long-lasting.