Religious Observances



High Holy Days graphic High Holy Days graphic

High Holy Days 5780 – September 2019

As you will be aware, 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. If you have not been to one of his 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.

Shana Tova to all.

Here are the details for the High Holy Days services and events at Beth Israel Synagogue.

 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

  • Erev Rosh Hashanah (Sunday Sept. 29)

Services 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm, followed by dedication of memorial plaques.

  • Rosh Hashanah I (Monday Sept. 30)

Services 9:30 am to 1:00 pm – Shacharit / Torah / Musaf / Shofar blowing (Kohanim – please make sure you are there by 10:30 am)

  • Tashlich (Monday Sept. 30)

After services end around 1:00 pm, join us at Jackson Creek on Bonnacord Street (a 10 min walk from the shul) for the Taslich service.   Leftover bread, bring it along.

  • Roshashanah I — Special ‘Adon Olam’ Sing-a-long (Monday Sept. 30)

This musical event begins at 4:00 pm.

Cantor Leon Litvack and Dr Dan Houpt will lead us in a special ‘Adon Olam’ sing-a-long, with many new versions that Leon has composed for this occasion. The service will be followed by a light supper. It will take place at the home of Larry Gillman and Jenn Reid.

Please note that THIS IS NOT A POT LUCK but you need to RSVP if you plan to participate.  To reply that you are coming, just send a note to with the names of the people who plan to attend.  Also, in your RSVP ask for the exact location of the meal and gathering if you have not received a Beth Israel Newsletter, or if you did, then check inside it for the address.

Homework for the Sing-A-Long and Reflections (Yom Kippur)!  There are nine versions of Adon Olam that Cantor Litvack has recorded for us and wishes us to preview for the Reflections.  See Cantor Litvack’s message below as well as well as download the full ‘Adon Olam homework assignment‘ for some wonderful insights about this very ‘spirited’ song.

Below are links to all nine versions.  Click on the audio slider arrow of each song version and have a listen.  Sing along to learn the tunes.   What are your favorite versions?  Why?  

1. Adon Olam by E.M. Gerovitsch (the ‘traditional’ version)


2. Adon Olam by Adolph Katchko (one of the great cantors of the C20th ‘golden age’)


3. Adon Olam by Uzi Chitman (the one that gets faster towards the end)


4. Do-Re-Mi Adon Olam (from The Sound of Music)


5. Adon Olam by Ron Eliran (based on the Israeli song Sharm a Sheikh, written during the Six-Day War in 1967)


6. Adon Olam by David Aaron de Sola (a Sephardic version, from a 19th-century cantor at Bevis Marks synagogue in London, England)


7. Adon Olam based on a traditional Israeli melody


8. ‘Danny Boy’ Adon Olam (sung to ‘The Londonderry Air’)


9. Scottish Adon Olam (inspired by the Scottish air ‘The Caledonian Hunter’s Delight’)


  • Rosh Hashanah II – Meditiative Shacharit (Tuesday Oct. 1)

Service begins at 9:30 am to 10:30 am.  Please note that you must be there on time.  Latecomers cannot be admitted until the service has ended.

  • Rosh Hashanah II – Services (Tuesday Oct. 1)

 Services 10:30 am to 1:00 pm – Torah / Musaf / Shofar blowing (Kohanim – please make sure you are there by 10:30 am)

  • Erev Yom Kippur — Kol Nidrei (Tuesday Oct. 8)

Services 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm.

  • Yom Kippur — Services (Wednesday Oct. 9)

Services 9:30 am to 1:00 pm Shacharit / Torah / Musaf (Yizkor about 11:30 am) (Kohanim – please make sure you are there by 10:30 am)

  • Yom Kippur — Spiritual Reflection on ‘Adon Olam’  (Wednesday Oct. 9)

Reflections from 4:30 pm 6:00 pm Yom Kippur – Spiritual reflection on ‘Adon Olam’, with musical examples: Cantor Leon and Dr Dan Houpt will lead us in a discussion of the deeper meaning behind this hymn. We will also discuss the various musical settings. Don’t forget to submit your choice of your favourite version, from among those presented by Cantor Leon.

  • Ne’ilah Service/Havdalah (Wednesday Oct. 9)

Service from 6:00-7:40 pm – Havdalah; concludes with the version of Adon Olam selected by the congregation!

  • Breaking of the Fast (Wednesday Oct. 9)

Following the conclusion of Yom Kippur services and Havdalah on Wednesday, October 9, the community is invited to participate in a potluck meal to break the fast.  It is very important that you let the organizers know if you are planning to join in for this joyous annual event so please  RSVP by replying to this email with:

  • Who is coming?   Names please.
  •  What you are bringing for the potluck? We need to know by Monday, October 7, at the latest. Please remember that Beth Israel has adopted Kosher-Style guidelines for permissible foods.  For example, we don’t bring meat and only Kosher cheeses are allowed.  If you are unsure, please request a copy of the guidelines at  

How to Machzor?

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

Cantor Litvack’s Message to the Community – 5780

Dear friends:

I hope you are well and looking forward to our services this year.

It’s been a wonderful year for me, filled with travel and new experiences. I was in Israel twice: once to lecture on Frankenstein (on Hallowe’en!), and once to open an exhibition of Dickens photographic portraits, which I curated at the University of Haifa. I also went on a Danube cruise, through Hungary, Slovakia, and Austria; this particular river trip inspired my choice of theme for this year.

I’m calling our Jewish year 5780 ‘The Year of Adon Olam’. My rationale lies in a moment of inspiration I had in Vienna in July, when my friends and I started singing tunes by Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein from The Sound of Music (much of which was filmed in the Austrian capital). Unprompted, I started singing ‘Adon Olam’ to the tune of ‘Do-Re-Mi’ (you know: ‘Doe, a deer, a female deer…’), and thought that I must compose a musical setting of ‘Adon Olam’ to this tune. That started me thinking about the importance of ‘Adon Olam’ to Jewish liturgy, and about the wealth of melodies to which it can be sung.

To this end, I am going to introduce to you a series of beautiful new tunes for this wonderful hymn, which we sing at the end of many of our services (you’ll recall that in the past I have sung it to the tune of ‘Danny Boy’). We will think about and study the deep meaning embodied in the words, and their special significance for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Rabbi Yehuda the Chasid indicated that if we sing ‘Adon Olam’ with feeling and intent, then negative connotations will disappear from our prayers and supplications on the High Holy Days. I have been thinking about ‘Adon Olam’ and singing various versions of it for the last three months, and I can tell you that it has the potential to alter one’s mood for the better!

I hope you will join me on this extraordinary journey through prayer and song. There will be many opportunities for you to join in, thanks to the guitar accompaniment provided by our own, extremely talented Dr Dan Houpt!

I look forward to seeing you all on Erev Rosh Hashanah (which falls on Sunday evening, 29 September) and on subsequent days. You will not be disappointed!

With every good wish from Cantor Leon