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NY Rosh Hashanah/Yom Kippur Guide: Celebrating The High Holy Days

By Deirdre Haggerty

Outside of Tel Aviv, New York City has the largest Jewish population. As such, there are an abundance of ways to celebrate the High Holy Days in the Big Apple. Rosh Hashanah 2017 begins at sunset on Sept. 20 and ends on Sept. 22. Yom Kippur is one week later, beginning at sunset on Friday, Sept. 29 and culminating at sundown on September 30. Synagogue members will already have gatherings planned and tickets for services in hand. The following guide offers kosher meal planning tips, Tashlich sites and ideas for those who do not attend services frequently, but want to celebrate the Jewish High Holy Days.

Rosh Hashanah

According to My Jewish Learning, Rosh Hashanah, meaning "head of year," is "a time of inner renewal and divine atonement." To celebrate the Jewish New Year, feasts are tradition for both nights. In addition, it is customary to attend High Holy Day services. Many cast away their sins in a Tashlich, throwing bread crumbs into a moving body of water.

Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur is the "Jewish day of communal and personal atonement for sins committed during the year." Fasting is mandatory, except for pregnant women, nursing mothers and the infirmed. Prayer is central to the holiday, however unless you are a member of a synagogue you must pay for tickets to attend services. My Jewish Learning offers tips to celebrate at home with a mahzor (prayer book) and a shofar (horn). Additionally, you can live stream services using the guide below.

2245 Broadway
New York, NY 10024
(212) 787-2000

If time isn't on your side, or you are better at reservations than cooking, consider catering your High Holy Days' feasts at Zabar's. Enjoy customary fare such as honey cake, brisket, rugelach, smoked fish and more. For 80 years Zabar's has been a New York staple. Pick up your order in Manhattan or have it delivered to your home in time for the holidays.

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Ohel Ayalah
Prince George Ballroom
15 E. 27th St.
New York, NY 10016
(212) 471-0882

Park Slope Jewish Center
1320 Eighth Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11215
(718) 768-1453

Tashlich is done on the second day of Rosh Hashanah, if the first falls on Shabbat. Otherwise it occurs at the beginning of the holiday. Following the afternoon prayer, Jews go to a body of water, preferably with fish in it, recite Tashlich prayers and cast bread into the water. If you do not have a place of worship with Tashlich services, many New Yorkers go on the boardwalk in Manhattan Beach, Brighton Beach and down Surf Avenue on Coney Island. As water surrounds the boroughs, it shouldn't be difficult to find a place. However, if you are looking for free services to pray the High Holy Days, Ohel Ayalah caters to younger Jews who do not have a place to worship. To contact the organization, visit the website. The phone numbers listed above are for the individual venues.

The Kabbalah Centre New York
Hammerstein Ballroom – Historic Manhattan Center
411 W. 34th St.
New York, NY 10001
(212) 644-0025

The Kabbalah Centre of New York perceives Rosh Hashanah as a "cosmic window in time" rather than a religious holiday. As such, Yom Kippur is "a day of redemption, a cosmic opening to atone for the past." The Kabbalah Centre has many locations in New York. Rosh Hashanah services will be held at the Hammerstein Ballroom mentioned above. Yom Kippur services are located at 630 2nd Ave., New York, NY 10016.

High Holidays Livecast
1395 Lexington Ave.
New York, NY 10128
(212) 415-5500

For Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, tune in live if you cannot make services. However, please note that technology is not permitted on Shabbat and most holidays. Therefore, none of the streaming options are from Orthodox synagogues. This is a great option for the sick, homebound, or those that cannot afford a ticket. However, many synagogues will offer discounts or financial aid for those undergoing a hardship. For more information about High Holiday livecasts, visit My Jewish Learning.

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Stanton Street Shul
180 Stanton St.,
New York, NY 10002
(212) 533-4122

For family-friendly High Holidays services, celebrate at the Stanton Street Shul. No tickets, no fees for seats during prayer services. Reservations are not required, however Stanton requests signing up to keep worshipers in the know for any schedule changes. In addition, services include the youngest of celebrants. Check the schedule for the educational StantonKIDS programming recommended for ages 2-6.

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