The High Holy Days season kicks off with Selichot, an evening service following Shabbat that begins the themes of repentance and forgiveness. Congregations across the region are holding special events the night of Sept. 20 (except as noted).
Birmingham’s Temple Emanu-El will screen “The Jewish Cardinal,” the Birmingham premiere of the acclaimed film about Jean Marie Lustiger of Paris. A dessert reception will start at 6:30 p.m., followed by the Selichot service at 7 p.m. The film follows the service, and Rabbi Jonathan Miller will be joined by Rev. John McDonald for a discussion of issues raised in the film.
Temple Beth-El in Birmingham will have a string quartet and piano performing music for the season starting at 8 p.m. The Selichot service will follow.
Knesseth Israel in Birmingham will show a film at 8 p.m. and have a service at 10:30 p.m.
Agudath Israel-Etz Ahayem in Montgomery will have Selichot services at 7:30 p.m.
Temple Emanu-El in Dothan will have Selichot on Sept. 21, starting at 5 p.m. “the Book Thief” will be screened and a covered dish dinner will take place during the film. The service will follow the movie.
At Temple Beth-El in Pensacola, “Sof HaOlam Smolah — Turn Left at the End of the World” will be screened at 7 p.m. Set in southern Israel in the 1960, the award-winning film follows a Jewish family from India as it struggles with the challenges of adjusting to life in a new country. The film is for mature audiences. Services will begin at 9 p.m.
At Temple Sinai in New Orleans, George Dansker will present “I’ll Kneel but I Won’t Cross Myself: A Survey of the 20th-Century Jewish American Opera Singer.” Dansker is a librarian with the New Orleans Public Library who covers the New Orleans opera scene for the New York-based Opera News Magazine and has provided music criticism for the Times-Picayune. He has written for Carnegie Hall Magazine and the Louisiana Philharmonic and provided liner notes for many CD and DVD releases. Recently he co-produced and annotated an annual fundraising CD and DVD for Broadway. The program starts at 7 p.m., followed by an 8 p.m. reception and services at 8:15 p.m.
Touro Synagogue in New Orleans has a Selichot confession board outside the chapel, where congregants can add their struggles. Thousands of these confessions, requests and prayers are being gathered for viewing in communities across the country. Touro will also hold a Tot Shabbat Selichot at 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 20.
The Touro Selichot program will be “Teshuvah at Angola,” starting with a screening of “Serving Life,” about inmates at the Louisiana prison who volunteer to staff the prison’s hospice. Babysitting will be available as this film is not for children. After the 5 p.m. screening there will be a 6:30 p.m. dinner and discussion with Norris Henderson, founder of Hospice at Angola. The service will be at 8 p.m., and reservations are requested for the dinner and babysitting.
Anshe Sfard in New Orleans will have Selichot at 10 p.m. Effi Naghi will add Sephardic flavor by leading “Anenu.”
Shir Chadash in Metairie is holding Selichot at 8:15 p.m. Rabbi Ethan Linden noted that when the congregation was formed 52 years ago, bringing the Conservative movement to New Orleans, it was decided not to have Rosh Hashanah be the first service, but Selichot.
In Shreveport, B’nai Zion will have dessert and Havdalah at 7:30 p.m., followed by Selichot at 8 p.m.