Looking for a new place to experience the High Holidays this year? Temple Shalom of Newton is excited to give you a peek into our services through interviews with Rabbi Neil Hirsch and young adult member Liana Mitman. Interested in experiencing our services for yourself? Join us through High Holiday Ticket Match!

Read on for more about Temple Shalom from Rabbi Hirsch.

What’s your favorite part of the High Holidays?
There are a couple of things I really love about the High Holidays. One is the time in between services—the schmoozing time. What I find here at Temple Shalom is that people are hugging each other, people are chatting, people are catching up, and it’s just nice to be able to connect with people. That’s one of the most rewarding parts of the entire experience. On the religious side of things, the thing that I really find powerful about Rosh Hashanah and even more so on Yom Kippur is the drama of the day. I think about the High Holidays as this moment in time—you don’t get the High Holidays the rest of the year. So it’s a time to focus; it’s a time to really think about your own self, to do cheshbon hanefesh, the appraisal of one’s own soul, one’s own being, and to figure out how can I not only be a better person in this coming year than I was in the year before, but how can I enhance my relationships, how can I enhance my relationship to God and how can I rededicate myself to all the work I do to make sure I leave the world and those relationships a little bit more whole, a little bit better than they were even just the day before. And you can’t do that every day; it comes about mostly just on the High Holidays, and that drama, that intensity, is really very special.

Describe the personality of Temple Shalom.
Temple Shalom is really a very warm and welcoming place. I would say, above all else, that when you walk in, people want to get to know you, and you want to get to know them. That’s the personality of the place. Yes, it’s a large congregation in a suburban community, but to me it’s kind of like the place I grew up. It feels like home in a lot of ways. And to have that in a community—a sacred community—is no small thing in my book.

Temple Shalom has big plans for expanding its young adults group. Liana tells us more.

You grew up here. What inspires you to stay so involved?
I grew up going here since I was probably 5 years old. I was very involved when I was young, and I was actually able to come back and teach religious school on Sundays for the kindergarteners. Today, as a young professional, it’s nice to have a place where I can still go that’s very familiar. It’s a very welcoming community. I find that the congregants here are diverse in terms of religious observance and age. It’s just a really welcoming atmosphere.

Tell us about your plans for the young adults group.
We’re in the process of formulating a group for young adults—for people who grew up here, people who live in the community and anyone who wants to get involved in a synagogue. We had a Shabbat dinner last year, and we’re planning some other events, like bar nights. There’s a wide age range at this temple, and it would be great to get the young adults more actively involved.

Like what you see? Sign up to attend services at Temple Shalom of Newton through High Holiday Ticket Match!

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