These are good holidays to plan ahead for, especially regarding the choices you want to make regarding kids’ participation. Some synagogues overflow with people for these holidays, so they may require people to make reservations to guarantee their places at services (we’ll discuss the subject of “buying tickets” for the High Holy Days later in this guide). Many congregations also have limited space available for kids’ activities or childcare. Taking some time during summer vacation to investigate your options and think through your family’s plans for these holidays will help reduce stress.
It’s also helpful to keep in mind that synagogues usually have their entire staff working extra hard during the last couple weeks before the Jewish New Year. They’re trying to prepare for these holidays and for the start of the religious school year at the same time. Also, in the final few days before these holidays begin, they tend to receive a lot of last-minute calls from people who haven’t planned ahead and are now scrambling a bit. Deciding what you want to do earlier than that and, if your plans include synagogue services, reserving the places you want are great ways to avoid stress.
If you want to become a hero in the eyes of a synagogue’s staff, getting in touch during the summer and offering to volunteer to assist in some way during the High Holy Days is a great way to make a genuine difference for a congregation during their most demanding time of year. Obviously there’s no obligation to do that, but it can be fun and it’s a great way to get to know others in the congregation more personally.