Chabad of Port Washington ‘open tent’ services

The Island Now

The story is told of a man who approached the door of his local synagogue on Yom Kippur eve but was denied entry because he didn’t have a ticket. He begged and pleaded to be admitted on this holiest day of the Jewish year, but the guard at the door was adamant in his refusal.

Finally, in desperation to spend at least a few minutes inside the walls of a house of prayer on this day, he begged the guard: “Please allow me in for just one minute so I can give an important message to someone inside, and then I’ll leave immediately, I promise!”  To which the guard replies: “Ok, I’ll let you in; but if I catch you praying…”

Since its inception in 1991, Chabad of Port Washington has a long-standing tradition to offer an open-door policy for all of its programs and services, most especially the High Holiday services.

We feel it is important that no one is denied an opportunity to participate in High Holiday services because they don’t have a ticket or aren’t members, regardless of the reason why this is the case.  Our 220 member families are on board with this approach, playing host in our warm, welcoming “house of prayer” to anyone who walks through our doors.

This year is no different, although it’s quite different. Due to the coronavirus, Chabad has taken every precaution to be able to offer enjoyable, meaningful in-person High Holiday services to anyone in the community who would like to attend.

Services will take place in a large, open tent on Chabad’s property on Shore Road, with the following safety precautions in place:

Rabbis and cantors will be in a separate area, separated by a lucite partition; temperature-taking of all participants before entering; face masks will be required at all times; seating will be arranged with 6’ social distancing.

Like every year, security will be provided by off duty PWPD personnel.  The seats will be sanitized before each service, using a NSF-Certified safe, Hospital grade disinfectant fogger & mister.

Services will be kept short for safety and convenience, considering we’re wearing masks and in a non air-conditioned, outdoor space. Each day of the High Holidays will feature an abbreviated 2.5-hour service beginning at 8 am.  This will be followed at 11 am by a one hour “inspirational service”, which will include the main highlights of the service, including Shofar on day two of Rosh Hashanah and Yiskor on Yom Kippur.

As the early responses have been higher than anticipated, we have added a second one hour inspirational service at 12:30 pm on the first day of Rosh Hashanah and on Yom Kippur.

Services at Chabad are known for their warmth, joy, humor and meaning. This year, thanks to the generosity of Mr. Yaakov Elkon, they will be stepped up a couple notches to make them even more special, enjoyable and inspiring. This year the services will be led by Cantor Naftali Marrus, who will be accompanied by 4 acapella vocalists.

Cantor Marrus was trained at the Julliard School of Music, as well as under opera and vocal coach Johannes Schwaiger.  Marrus has led Holiday and Shabbat services over the years in various prestigious Synagogues throughout the world including The Great Synagogue of Rio De Janeiro, Congregation Emunath Israel in New York City and The Shul of Bal Harbor, where he continues to lead Passover services each year. In addition, he has performed in cantorial concerts in Vienna, France, Budapest, Brazil, and throughout the New York tri-state area.  Please join us. Be prepared to enjoy an uplifting and inspiring Jewish experience.

Yaakov Elkon has generously sponsored this new feature of our High Holiday services in loving memory of his dear wife Hannah, a woman of glamour, dignity, strength and refinement. Thanks to Hannah’s charisma, leadership skills and hands on can-do attitude, the Elkons were involved over the years in many leading Jewish charities in the USA and in Israel. It is quite appropriate that our services to be enhanced so greatly to honor the life and legacy of this towering Jewish woman.

If you’d like to join, be our guest! However, RSVP is required for security reasons and to maintain the proper spacing capacity. Visit to sign up for the particular services of your choice. Space is limited and is filling up quickly, so it’s best to register as soon as possible. We look forward to seeing you.

For those who are uncomfortable attending even under the above conditions, we have arranged to hold a 20-minute SHOFAR & TASHLICH program to take place on Sunday, the second day of Rosh Hashanah, at 4 PM, at Sunset Park (adjacent to the Town Dock).   The cantor and acapella choir will be singing at this program as well, and are all welcome.  Our thanks to the Port Washington Water Pollution Control District, Donald Kurz and  The Sousa Bandshell committee for allowing us permission to use the park.

We are very grateful to Steve Kaplan for making these arrangements on our behalf for the benefit of the community. Kaplan also arranged, as he does each year, for parking to be allowed during the High Holidays on Channel Drive, across from Chabad. (People can even choose to park their cars there before the holidays and leave them there for the duration of the holiday.)

May the Jewish New Year 5781 – which celebrates the anniversary of creation, which is therefore meaningful to people of all faiths – usher in a new beginning, leaving behind the great challenges facing our world and our country at this time, and ushering in a transformative new year filled with blessing of good health, happiness and universal goodness and peace.

Shana Tova, happy New Year!

Rabbi Shalom M. Paltiel

Chabad of Port Washington

“Judaism with a Smile”


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