Religious Observances


High Holy Days graphic High Holy Days graphic

High Holy Days 5782 – September 2021

The High Holy Days are fast approaching. Once again, we will enjoy the pleasure and privilege of having Cantor Leon Litvack lead our services.

For those of us who know Leon, his annual visit is a highlight of our synagogue year. This year with  continued COVID-19 concerns, Leon’s services will be presented virtually from Belfast, Northern Ireland as coordinated by the kind volunteers in Peterborough, Canada.  The expectations are the services are offered to you with the same passion and community participation.  If you have not been to one of Leon’s services, now is the chance to see what you have been missing and to join with fellow Jews in our congregation in the observance of these special days in our calendar from the start of Rosh Hashanah to the end of Yom Kippur, commonly referred to as the Days of Awe.

IMPORTANT:  If you wish to obtain an online link to the Beth Israel Synagogue services please contact:  Ron – bisptbo@gmail.comNOTE:  please include your name and email address if you wish to obtain a Zoom link and participate in the services.  More details about being a reader below.

Link to details below for the High Holy Days services (virtual) at Beth Israel Synagogue. 

Link to call for readers, singers and other contributors.

Link to Cantor Leon’s High Holy Days Message.

Link to ‘How to Machzor?’.

NOTE:  Tashlich Services on Sept. 7th are to be held in person at Jackson Park at Bonnacord.

Bookmark this web page and return often to see if any updates.

With best wishes to all for a Healthy Successful and Sweet Year.

Shana Tova u’metukah.

Services Details

Selichot Services in preparation for the High Holy Days:  August 28th 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Erev Rosh Hashanah:  Sept 6th evening  4 p.m. to 6 p.m.     

     Ma’ariv, (slightly abbreviated from the Machzor)

Rosh Hashanah I with Torah Service: Sept 7th morning  10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.     

     Torah reading, Haftarah, and Musaf, (abbreviated from the Machzor)

     Taschlich Service@ 1:30 p.m.  (Jackson Park at Bonnacord)

Rosh Hashanah II with Torah Service:  Sept 8th morning 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

     Torah reading, Haftarah, shofar blowing, and Musaf, (abbreviated from the Machzor)

Erev Yom Kippur:   Sept 15th evening  4 p.m. to 6:15 p.m.

     Kol Nidrei & Ma’ariv (slightly abbreviated from the Machzor)

Yom Kippur Service:  Sept 16th morning  10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

     Torah reading, Haftarah, Yizkor, & Musaf (abbreviated from the Mahzor)

Yom Kippur Concluding Service:  Sept 16th late afternoon 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

     Ne’ilah (abbreviated from the Machzor)

Participate in this Transcontinental Transatlantic Virtual High Holy Day Observances – You will have stories to tell your grandkids.

Call for Readers, Singers and Other Contributors!

What is absolutely paramount is that attendees to the services participate as readers and even musically.  Please, please, please contact (Ron Molnar et. al.) if you are at all interested in actively taking part in the services!  Just to tweak your interest, here are items how you can participate:

  • English and Hebrew Readings: participate as a reader (English and/or Hebrew) in one or all of the services. 
  • Photo Montage:  contribute family photos for Kol Nidre.  
  • Kohanim:  we need your participation!

Ron ( ) will provide you with details about each of these events and how you can participate.



Cantor Leon’s Message for High Holy Days (5782)

Dearest friends,

I hope you have had a pleasant summer, and that you have enjoyed the loosening of restrictions in relatively good humour. Vaccinations are proceeding at pace, and we trust that the coming year will be one of health, peace of mind, and freedom!

Once again we are forced to hold our High Holy Day services online. I can’t tell you how much of a disappointment this is to me personally: travel is still difficult and uncertain, and we are not sufficiently free of the virus to be able to return to indoor worship, in the way that brings so much joy and fulfilment to all of us. We have learned to cope with the virus, and the medium of Zoom has offered some compensation: we were able to hold services for Chanukah, Pesach, and Shavuot. We were also able to tune in to the all-important Friday nights (for the conduct of which the community is blessed, through having our own people come forward to give of their time and expertise). I’d like to thank everyone who was – and continues to be – involved in making these services happen: they’ve meant so much to so many!

We’ve had much to contemplate over the last year, much to cope with, and much for which we need to be thankful. The High Holy Days are, quite rightly, a time for reflection, for taking stock, and for planning how we will conduct ourselves in the coming year. Undoubtedly the Jewish year 5782 will be different from 5781 – hopefully in the best of ways. We long for a return to our regular scheme of activities, to meeting friends and family without reservation, to return to our workplaces, to return to school or university, and to travel more freely and extensively. We will also (God willing) soon be able to come back to shul, and to our regular cycle of communal worship. Until we can do so, it would be useful to ask ourselves what this will mean for us: how is worshipping in the synagogue, with a physical minyan (quorum of ten people), with prayer books, with a sefer Torah that we can feel, and even kiss, different from doing it online, at a distance? How is getting dressed up to come to shul – thus requiring some effort, and making it a special occasion – different from sitting in the living room in our more casual clothes, looking at a screen, perhaps with a coffee or can of pop in hand? While we might have lost something in being apart, it’s useful to ask, what have we gained, in terms of being carefully guided through services and rituals onscreen? The pace online is certainly slower, and no one is in danger of getting lost in the many pages of a physical Hebrew prayer book! What I’m saying is that you might be able to draw out some positives from worshipping during this extraordinary period. We wouldn’t like to have it this way any longer than necessary; but what have we learned, that we can take forward in our Jewish lives, in the coming year?

You might keep these questions in mind as we approach this year’s Zoom services. There will, of course, be the wonderful music that makes our congregation so unique. My own musical repertoire has grown hugely over the past year, as I’ve written and shared new compositions with you. My collection of “backing tracks” (so ably produced by our team of talented guitarists) has grown to nearly a hundred! While they are extremely useful for conducting online services, I hope that we will soon not need them! The music won’t be lost, though: I plan to introduce more instrumental accompaniment into our in-person worship, to enrich the soulful nature of prayer.

In addition to our usual run of High Holy Day services, I will be conducting a special Selichot service on Saturday 28 August, to get us in the mood for what is to come, and to help us prepare spiritually for the so-called “Days of Awe”. Some of these penitential reflections date back to the ninth century, and are found in the siddur of Rav Amram Gaon (the first sage to compile a complete liturgy for the synagogue).

Rosh Hashanah services begin on Labour Day at 4 pm. I hope that you will join us, and I hope (God willing) that in the year 5782 we can all be together again in person, to enjoy the community and fellowship that makes our congregation so special.

With love and best wishes for a Shana Tova from Cantor Leon


Dear congregants, 

You might also be interested in listening to two of Leon’s Thoughts for the Day broadcasts on Jewish themes:

These short messages are broadcast by the BBC and our own Cantor Leon is a contributor.  Check them out.



How to Machzor?

For the virtual services this year, the Machzor content will be provided online but i you prefer to follow the on-line service with the Lev Shalem Machzor open in front of you, Machzors can be borrowed before the High Holy Days and MUST be returned before the end of September. To borrow a Machzor, just let Ron ( know that you want one. We will arrange a common time for people to pick them up.

Mahzor Lev Shalem is the book that we use for the High Holy Day services. This is a very user-friendly Mahzor with English translations of all passages and prayers and transliterations of the prayers that are said aloud in Hebrew, so that everyone can participate. It also has symbols to indicate where we bow, when the cantor resumes, and choreography instructions, when we stand etc.

Have a look at a Mahzor example