How to Transform Your Home Into A Mikdash Ma’at – Mini Sanctuary
The following provides suggestions to help maximize your Yom Tov experience at home. We have consulted with various experts to provide the most rewarding, spiritual and fulfilling experience possible for you. Have a Good Yontiff everyone!!
1. Make a “Holy Space”
a. Designate a comfortable place in your home as this year’s “Home Sanctuary.” If you choose a space normally used for relaxing (like a living room), spend a few minutes decorating it with holiday motifs. Set up a table with prayer books, bibles, flowers and family photos of people that may be missed.
b. Try to not use areas utilized as your home office. This way you won't be sidetracked or reminded of work.
c. Remove weekday distractions such as mail, unfolded laundry, wallets, purses, and cell phones. You may want to light scented candles, sit on a yoga mat or under a blanket, or even surround yourself with family photos.
d. Ask your children or grandchildren to send you artwork and decorate “Your Home Sanctuary” with them.
e. On the eastern wall, the direction you will be facing, create a “Mizrach” (a photo, painting, or ornament on a room’s eastern wall) that not only indicates the direction of Jerusalem but also reminds us to Whom we are praying! Check out JNF's Mizarach activities.
f. Although no one will know… checking email is still a big no-no! Leave your devices at the (living room) door.
2. “Clothing Makes the Man”
Northwestern University's Professor Adam Galinsky did a study with two groups of people. All were given a white lab coat to wear. The first group were told it was a doctor's coat. The second group was told it was a painter's coat.
The first group outperformed the other group with higher attention levels and focused attitudes; this is actually called "Enclothed Cognition"!
WE RECOMMEND YOU GET DRESSED UP FOR SHUL… IN YOUR LIVING ROOM! YOU WILL BE MORE FOCUSED AND ATTENTIVE AND GET MORE OUT OF SERVICES!
- Wear a festive yarmulke / kippah
- Wear at least a shirt and tie
- Put on your festive tallit
- Get dressed in a formal outfit
- Put on make-up
- Put on your favorite shul hat
3. Prepare Your Technology
a. Follow the simple instructions you will be receiving to gain access to the Menorah Live Streaming.
b. We encourage you to make sure your monitor, television, or computer is a good distance from your seats.
c. To simulate the feeling of seeing the Rabbi on the bima, place your streaming device on a stand and on a Yontiff tablecloth.
4. Prepare Your Mind and Spirit
The High Holidays are a time of learning and spiritual growth, of preparation for the new year. Why not check out these new sites that provide great resources to "get in the swing of the chagim".
- The Women’s Rabbinic Network
- The Shofar Project by The Institute for Jewish Spirituality
- For Teens: BBYO’s “Kindness Calendar”
5. Prepare Your Stuff
Physical objects can aid spiritual ritual. Filling your home sanctuary with ritual objects can set a tone. Judaica doesn't just help adults get in the mood; it can also help children engage with core High Holiday teachings in a year when they won't be getting that reinforcement at Hebrew school. For example, you can teach kids about charity by giving them a tzedakah box.
Temple Menorah is delivering prayer books to each family ahead of the High Holidays. Dust off your candlesticks and light candles on the night before Rosh Hashanah. Have apples, honey and challah on hand. You can even set up a special table to display these items during services.
6. During Services
Now that you've prepared a space for worship at home, you have to actually attend virtual shul:
a. Don't be a lump on a log! Be participatory - not passive.
b. Sing! Even if you're off key… who cares?! Belt it out!
c. If you don't usually pray out loud, now you can! Try it!
d. Just as you might take a break for a few minutes in shul, there's nothing wrong with doing the same at home.
7. After Services
a. Join Menorah's Mensches in the Traveling Shofar Blowing Spots!
b. Eat your festive meal with special symbolic foods and prayers
c. Perform Tashlich with friends, masks and stale challah at your favorite live body of water.
d. Review your Rosh Hashanah "RoadMap" (make sure to print it before the holiday starts). JewBelong's RH Roadmap is an excellent guide with questions to help you reflect on the year behind us and helpful scripts for any apologies you want to make before the new one begins.