Sacred Spaces

Visit one of our community-generated sacred spaces for the High Holidays!

One of our High Holy Day offerings this year is a collection of community-stewarded sacred spaces for community members to pray and reflect while prioritizing the physical safety of our collective Neshamas (souls) and bodies.

Throughout the Days of Awe you are invited to make personal visits to several community altar spaces set up and stewarded by members of our community for the purpose of personal reflection and prayer. These will be available September 18 through September 28.

Many thanks to our volunteer altar-keepers!

Use the following links to navigate to detailed information on this page.

About the Sacred Spaces
Yizkor Altar Space (Greenfield)
Stone Spiral Sacred Space (Amherst)
Sacred Mourning Space (Northampton)
Sacred Space for Centering our Grief and Rage (Northampton)


About the Sacred Spaces

Our desire is to provide the opportunity for our community to feel held while we dive deep into these holiest of days at a distance. Our blessing is that your visits allow you to touch into the nourishment, grounding, healing energy, and connection that exists within our community even/especially during this great (re)turning. 

We encourage you to leave offerings in the energetic form of song or prayer and the physical form of art or symbols of the season harvested from the land. Your energetic and concrete offerings support those who visit to feel held by these spaces and by our larger community. 

In order to prioritize safety, we are making a strict request that you visit these sites on your own, with a chavrutah (prayer comrade) or with your pod. These spaces are not designed nor intended for collective gathering and we ask that everyone respect this request and actively encourage others to do the same. 


Yizkor Altar Space (Greenfield)

Location: 33 Russell Street in Greenfield [Google map]

Accessibility: Sidewalk has curb cuts and is accessible from the driveway. The altar is about 5 yards from the sidewalk, across grassy lawn. 

Parking: There is plenty of street parking on Russell Street.

Notes from the altar-keeper:

This Nishmat Shoom community altar is in the side yard of my home in Greenfield. It is on a table partially sheltered by a canopy tent and some drapery.

Instructions:

  • One person or pod group under canopy at a time
  • Adorn yourselves lovingly with masks.
  • Two chairs outside the canopy are available for sitting and for waiting if the space is occupied.
  • Please maintain safe distances if others are using the space.
  • Outside the canopy there is a table with:
    – a bowl of stones
    – hand sanitizer
    – pens and paper
    – copies of Yizkor prayer from the Nishmat Shoom machzor supplement 

Invitation:

  • Select a stone from the bowl to place alongside the stones of others on the altar.
  • You are welcome to bring your own stone and it will be returned to the forest and river at the conclusion of the Days of Awe.
  • Write the name of the person you are remembering and either place it in the bowl on the altar or clip/pin it to the ribbons hanging along the walls of the space.
  • You are welcome to stay in the space as long as you like.
  • Grab a sweet offering as you leave.

Stone Spiral Sacred Space (Amherst)

Location: Stone Spiral, near the Robert Frost Trail, at the Amethyst Brook Conservation Area [Google map]

The Amethyst Brook Conversation Area is on Pelham Road in Amherst, just past the Many Hands Farm Corps, coming from Amherst.

To get to the sacred space: Enter Amethyst Brook on its one main path. It soon forks at a large field, follow to the right. Continue on this main path across a small foot bridge, and continue forward. The main path with continue with the river on your left until a larger walking bridge is visible. Cross the bridge, and continue in the same direction so the river is now on your right. Continue down the main path with the river directly to your right until you SEE a third bridge. The stone spiral(s) will now be up the small rise to your left, just across from this last bridge. Enjoy!

Accessibility: Site is not wheelchair accessible. Unpacked ground, packed but with roots and rocks. There is at least one bridge with stairs that needs to be crossed. Walk to the site is under a mile.

Safety note: This conservation area is popular with dog owners and has an off-leash policy before 10am.

Parking: Free parking in the lot right at the trail head. There are no designated handicapped spots. If the lot is full, many will park on the side streets nearby. There is also a bus stop for route 45.

Notes from the altar-keeper:

Intention setting for the new year. Teshuva/returning to wholeness. Yiskor/personal and collective grief. Collective healing/safety. 

I will provide a small collection of meditative objects from these woods to walk with/offer at the stone circle/bring home. There are natural objects to sit on in the area, but I will try to bring some things together in a more intentional space next to the circle, along with a welcoming message for those visiting. 

The Amethyst Brook Conservation Area features a stone spiral that is useful for any personal meditation. More information on the space, complete with a trail guide: Amethyst Brook Conservation Area webpage.


Sacred Mourning Space (Northampton)

Location: Altar sits on the edge of St. Mary’s Cemetery in Northampton. Closest cemetery entrance is near 64 Hatfield St. Northampton, MA 01060 [Google map]

Once you’ve entered the cemetery from this entrance, go to the first inner-cemetery intersection. The altar will be to your right, along the fence. (This site is inside the cemetery, but is located behind a house at 693 Bridge Rd.)

Accessibility: Site is wheelchair accessible. Walk from road to wooden fence along edge of the cemetery is grassy and flat. Look for the white table cloth covering a small, low table, visible from the road inside the cemetery. Note: the altar is low to the ground. Please bring a cushion or chair if standing or sitting on the ground is not easeful for your body. 

Parking: Plenty of parking along road inside the cemetery, near the first intersection you come to when driving into the cemetery from Hatfield St. 

Notes from the altar-keeper:

This altar is a place for prayer and quiet contemplation of personal and collective loses. Hebrew and transliteration of Kaddish prayer are provided on site. 

You are welcome to bring a stone or another natural object to leave on the altar to honor your loved ones and to mark your visit. 


Sacred Space for Centering our Grief and Rage (Northampton)

Location: Montview Conservation Area. The entrance is near the intersection of Williams St and Montview Ave. Nearby address: 102 Williams St. [Google map])

The entrance is wide and non-descript, but we will try to keep flowers or some other marker near the entrance.

The altar will be about 100 feet from the entrance, behind some shrubs in a way that is highly visible, yet also can’t be seen from the entrance or the street.

Parking: There is ample free street parking in the area. 

Accessibility: There is basically no sidewalk on the side of Williams street to the conservation area, so immediate travel is on the street. 

The curb is smoothed out. However, there is a steep incline from the street to the entrance of the path- less than one-minute walk- and a grassy hump (6 in high approx) to get over when entering the conservation space. Once over the hump, the path is level, bumpy mown grass, about 8 feet wide, until you reach the altar.