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Saying Hineni for the High Holy Days

By Michal Ish-Horowicz

As a child, the High Holy Days meant avoiding school, dusting off rarely-worn white outfits, and sidling out of the main service to count down the hours before I could finally break fast on my grandma’s plava and a cup of tea. Much as I enjoyed the familiarity of the tunes, the formality of my community’s service didn’t exactly stir my soul. Spending the High Holy Days in Jerusalem in my late teens introduced me to alien rituals, like lying down on the floor during the Yom Kippur Musaf temple service, that opened my eyes to an experience that was far more meaningful and moving - literally!

This past year I joined Makor Hayim and during our Builders Shabbat, I responded to my name with the word, ‘Hineni,’ meaning ‘here I am’. This was more than a register; it was a chance for me to use the language of my ancestors to declare to fellow builders, ‘I am prepared – I am ready.’

Ready for what? On the one hand, I had an answer: I’d recently moved to Willesden Green and felt ready to connect with a local, inclusive Jewish community. On the other hand, my ‘Hineni’ was a leap of faith. I was saying to my new community, like an uncertain Moses said to God at the burning bush, ‘Hineni’ - I’m here to listen to whatever you have to say, but I don’t yet know what you need from me.

Fast forward a few months, and I am excited to have joined the Makor Hayim High Holy Days core team, along with Sam Glatman, Léa Bernier, Ed Teeger, and Rabbi Daniel. We’re following in the footsteps of all the Makor Hayimites from years past, whose ‘Hineni’ led them to co-create such memorable High Holy Days.

Importantly, chaggim at Makor Hayim have always been the result of a team effort. Whether you’re drawn to security or service-leading, welcoming or wardening, running a meditation or marketing, I invite you to join us, knowing that together, we will make a moving, meaningful High Holy Days for the whole community.

First, simply ask yourself:

  • What would my ideal High Holy Days look like?

  • What steps can I take to make these days meaningful for me and for others?

Next, sign up to join us, in person or by zoom, on 12 June for Hineni-fest, a garden party and afternoon tea, where we will launch this year’s High Holy Days. I hope to see you there!

And if you can’t make it, but have a High Holy Day idea you’d like to help make happen, just drop me an email at

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