The Project

The High Holy Days Video Project was conceived by David and Miriam Solomon when economics and demographics forced the closing of Temple Beth El in Helena, Arkansas in 2006. Shabbat services for the nine congregants continued in their living room, and Miriam asked her three sons--David, Rayman, and Lafe--to find a DVD of the High Holy Days that the congregation could watch.

When the search was unsuccessful, Lafe asked his friend Ross Spears, an Academy award-nominated documentary filmmaker and founder and director of the James Agee Film Project, if he would be interested in directing the filming of High Holy Day services. Ross readily agreed. Lafe then approached Rabbi Mindy A. Portnoy and Cantor Laura T. Croen of his temple, Temple Sinai, in Washington, D.C., and they immediately embraced the idea, along with the Temple Sinai volunteer choir. The services were staged and filmed over 3 days in the fall of 2008.

The Project is dedicated to the memory of Temple Beth El, founded in 1875, and its congregants. For the history of Temple Beth El, visit the website of The Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life and search in the Encyclopedia of Southern Jewish Communities for Helena, Arkansas.

In the News

In the Spring 2011 edition of Reform Judaism, published by the Union for Reform Judaism, the High Holy Days Project was highlighted in its "What Works: Ideas & Initiatives" column. View Legacy of Love (please scroll down to second article).


The Solomon Family Foundation, a non-profit, charitable foundation, will provide the High Holy Day DVD set free of charge but welcomes donations, which are tax-deductible, to cover the costs of reproduction and shipping. Donations may be sent to: Solomon Family Foundation, P.O. Box 34041, Washington, D.C. 20043

Photo of Temple Sinai interior.