Repentance, Truth – and Elephants. Yom Kippur 5781

Despite not being able to meet in person, our livestreamed services reach over 200 people

Yom Kippur began on the evening of Sunday 27th September with the Kol Nidre service. As is traditional at KLS we were fortunate to be able to listen to a beautiful rendition of Bruch’s cello piece, played by Tim Wells with accompanist Dominique Wong-Min. This year was different, of course – instead of being able to hear them live in our Sanctuary, they provided us with a video recording. This was played to members and other viewers as part our services which were livestreamed across our social media channels – channels: FacebookYouTube and Twitter.

Around 200 people watched the Kol Nidre service – our own congregants and others from around the world marking the day. Led from our Sanctuary by Rabbi René Pfertzel and KLS Music Director, Rebekka Wedell, the service included pre-recorded readings from a number of members. Members of the choir had individually recorded their vocal parts which were then mixed together and played during the service with accompanying visuals.

Rabbi René’s sermon was on the theme of repentance. He opened it with the story of Rabbi Israel Salanter during the Cholera epidemic of 1848 in Vilna who, on Yom Kippur, put the health of his congregants before the religious requirements of the day – as a way to consider the purpose of religion in the service of life. You can read his full sermon here.

Our services continued the following day with the morning service. During the morning, Council member Vince Daly gave a powerful appeal for donations as part of our annual High Holy Days appeal, of which you can read more here:

In his morning sermon, Rabbi René spoke about truth. He opened with the parable of the six blind men and the elephant – each one describing the animal very differently based upon their individual experiences of touching different parts of it. Truth is there, he explained, like the elephant in the room, but we have only limited access to it, as our own perceptions are limited. You can read the full sermon here.

In the afternoon we were pleased to be joined by former KLS Rabbi, Danny Rich who delivered his own sermon in the afternoon service, and then shared the reading of the names with Rabbi René during the Memorial service.

The sun sets as KLS Music Director Rebekka Wedell and Rabbi René Pfertzel lead the closing service

Speaking at the end of the day, Rabbi René Pfertzel said “This year’s High Holy Days have marked the culmination of a period of really hard work by so many of our members, very different to any previous years. Readings and songs were pre-recorded, videos and graphics prepared and our technology skills have taken a giant leap forward! We invested in new hardware and software to be able to offer high quality virtual services to members and viewers and we are really grateful for the donations received which contributed in part towards this investment. Even when we open our doors again to our members – which we hope will be very soon – we will be able to continue to offer a meaningful viewing experience to those members who are unable to come to the Synagogue in person – as well as to others across the world who want to join us in our regular services”.

All the services are available to watch on our YouTube channel.