Mikdash Ma’At – A Holy Space

Rabbi Audrey Marcus Berkman

How to Create a Sanctuary at Home for the High Holy Days

For many weeks, we’ve been emphasizing that we want you to feel like you are “under the dome” while you are at home during this year’s High Holy Day services. We understand that even though you will see the sanctuary on your screen, and hear the familiar words and melodies, it can be difficult to enter into the same kind of spiritual space without entering into the physical space you are used to being in during these most sacred days. I’d like to offer you some tips on how to create a sense of sacred space while you tune in to services this year– one that will also help you “tune in” to yourself and to do the spiritual and emotional work of these High Holy Days.

Rabbi Elyse Goldstein wrote this wonderful piece in Reform Judaism magazine to help guide us in this. She writes: “With the current health pandemic and restrictions on group gatherings, our kitchens have become our classrooms, our basements are our yoga studios, and our dining rooms are now our offices. Where, then, are our synagogues? The ancient rabbis asked this same question right after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. Without a localized place of worship, how could we pray together? They certainly didn’t have Zoom or livestreams…We are the inheritors of their simple answer: Our home would become our mikdash m’at, the miniature Beit Hamikdash (Temple)…”

I hope you will read through the helpful tips in the article linked above. I know that especially if you have young children at home, it might be hard to focus on being present in services. If we were gathering in person, perhaps your kids would be in the babysitting or kids’ programming and you’d have that time to yourself in our sanctuary. As a parent myself, I want to assure you that it is perfectly okay to give your kids some extra screen time while you’re on the “sanctuary screen.” No guilt! (In addition, we are running a kids’ only program over Zoom at 11:30 so that you can stay in the main service, and have your children be occupied with their own Rosh Hashanah experience.) We are all pulled in so many directions these days and it is so much more difficult to have all of those directions being in one space – your home! Whatever you can do to allow yourself the space to connect during services, despite the needs (and noise) of young kids, and even perhaps piles of laundry (not that I’d know anything about that! :))

I hope you’ll give yourself permission to do it.

Shana tova!