During the fall of 2020, the TalkingTree team produced virtual High Holidays services for the Chizuk Amuno Synagogue in Baltimore. Because they could not meet in person, our goal was to bring this 1200-person congregation together on the holiest days of the year.
We used virtual event technology to create a sense of community and make them feel as if they were all together in the sanctuary. The services were accessible to all – even the community of seniors in local nursing homes could participate. Simultaneous tots and teens services meant the whole congregation was truly coming together like they would during a normal year.
Our Production team designed a virtual synagogue (modeled on their actual building) where congregants to go to see announcements, socialize with other members, view a schedule of live services, and attend virtual synagogue. We provided live tech help for any attendees who might be less tech-savvy. The simplicity and functionality of the site made it easy for anyone to attend synagogue.
This job required up to 6 simultaneous live streams over 5 days of services.For the live services, we sent a small team to the synagogue and live-streamed a multi-camera broadcast to the virtual platform.
We took all necessary safety precautions to keep our team and the performers safe by distancing from each other and the performers and of course, wearing masks.
Virtual member participation
One way to give the services an in-person effect was to feature live Torah readings from members of the congregation. We used Zoom for the readings and other member participation. Our team held practice runs and instructed participants to sign into Zoom during their allotted time and unmute themselves to deliver their message.
Singing together as a congregation is an important part of these services. We re-created this effect by adding a button to the live sessions that linked to a Zoom meeting where congregants were invited to watch the service together with their cameras on. We brought the Zoom meetings into the live program sporadically to create a sense of togetherness and unity during songs and other sacred moments.
In the weeks and months leading up to the event, we pre-recorded several performances that would be cut into the live services. This included small, socially distanced choral performances mixed by our audio engineer, along with solos and shofar blowings to emulate a regular, in-person service.
In the end, we were able to produce engaging, dynamic services with live sermons, musical performances, live at-home interaction, and live virtual Torah readings that came together and made the Chizuk Amuno Community feel like they were together for their Holy days.