The Congregation for Humanistic Judaism (CHJ) will hold its annual High Holiday services at The Unitarian Church in Westport, 10 Lyons Plains Rd. CHJ is known for its meaningful and relevant High Holiday themes, community spirit, and reflective workshops and discussions, all within the natural setting of The Unitarian Church grounds and sanctuary. All services and programs are free and open to the public, and free childcare is provided during daytime programming.
Services include readings, music and reflection about the major themes of the holiday, including self-examination and renewed commitment to positive action. Interwoven with these timeless ideas will be the theme of this year’s High Holiday services, ACTUALIZING OUR IDEALS: Turning our Good Thoughts into Action in the Wider World.
Special guest David Niose, author of Nonbeliever Nation: The Rise of Secular Americans and president of the American Humanist Association, will speak during Rosh Hashanah Eve Services on Sunday, September 16th, and also during Rosh Hashanah Day program’s Town Meeting on Monday, September 17th. The Town Meeting will be about actualizing our ideals and being true to ourselves in the wider culture. Niose is a lawyer who represents Secular Americans in the courts, and also a popular blogger for Psychology Today’s Our Humanity, Naturally. He also serves as vice president of the Secular Coalition for America.
Families with children are invited to attend special Family Services (appropriate for children ages 4-14) on Rosh Hashanah day, Monday, September 17th, 2:45-3:30, and Yom Kippur day, September 26 1:15-2:00. Marcia Kosstrin, a Stamford resident who has been captivating CHJ families for over six years at these programs, draws a crowd with her animated story-telling. She says, “What I love best about telling stories during the High Holidays is finding stories that speak to the spirit of the holidays – particularly stories that reflect common human experiences, both good and bad, and gently guide us to be the best person that we can be. At our Young People's Yom Kippur service, I will tell the story of Jonah. This story is filled with powerful emotion and lessons learned--the hard way. We can all learn from Jonah and his mistakes, as we continue to reflect on our lives and behavior.”
Supervised childcare will be available during the day programming.
Members of the Congregation write the CHJ High Holiday observances, and this year they were written by Norwalk resident Cary Shaw. Cary set about this task with the intention to make the programs true to the lives and thoughts of modern Jews, while also promoting traditional Jewish values. Visitors have expressed enjoyment of this refreshing approach to welcoming the Jewish New Year.
Prospective members and guests are welcome to join the Congregation for Humanistic Judaism for all of their High Holiday Services. All services are free.
Sunday, September 16, 7:30 pm
Rosh Hashanah Eve Service (Oneg to follow)
Monday, September 17, 1:00-4:30 pm
Rosh Hashanah Day Program
Tuesday, September 25, 7:30 pm
Yom Kippur Kol Nidre Service
Wednesday, September 26, 1:15-6:00ish pm
Yom Kippur Day Program and Break-Fast
Fred Ury, Westport resident and Past-President of the Connecticut Bar Association, will speak at the Yom Kippur Kol Nidre service at 7:30 pm Tuesday evening, September 25. Live music plays a prominent role in this ancient Jewish ritual marking the beginning of one of the most important holidays in the Jewish year.
Yom Kippur Day programming on September 26 will run from 1:15-6:00 pm. Starting with a 1:15-2:00 pm Family Service, there will be a simultaneous workshop on “The Joy of CHJ” for prospective and new members and the generally curious, as well as a guided meditation session. Starting at 3:15 will be the CHJ Panel of Doers, where the altruistic actions and activities of CHJ members will be further explored. Yom Kippur concludes with Memorial and Closing Services from 4:30 pm to approximately 5:30 pm, followed by a community Break-fast.
Reservations at (203) 226-5451 are suggested but not required for CHJ services and programs. All programs take place at The Unitarian Church in Westport, 10 Lyons Plains Road, and are open to the public free of charge. Casual dress is recommended for daytime programming.
Humanistic Judaism emphasizes personal responsibility in fulfilling the Jewish ideals of loving kindness, justice, good deeds, and giving to those in need. These ethical ideals are shared by Jewish tradition and humanist philosophy. Humanistic Jews practice in personally meaningful ways, consistent with a modern understanding of the world.
CHJ is a cooperative congregation run exclusively by members, who plan educational programs, social events and holiday observances throughout the year. Because it is a warm and welcoming community, interfaith couples also find it to be the right place for their families. CHJ offers a full-service Sunday School program for children through Bar/Bat Mitzvah. An Open House and first day of Sunday School is scheduled for Sunday, September 9 at 9:30 am at Bedford Middle School in Westport. RSVP by September 7 to (203) 226-5451 or visit www.humanisticjews.org for more information.
Humanistic Judaism is the most recent group recognized as a major branch of Judaism by the United Jewish Communities. The Fairfield County CHJ Congregation was founded in 1967. Humanistic Judaism is now active in many countries throughout the world.