Yom Kippur Services In New York City: The Forward’s Picks

All year long, we wait for the Day of Atonement to seek forgiveness for acting on our sinful inclinations. This year, we will be better. This year, we will shed our skin of all the times we laughed too hard at Sacha Baron Cohen’s jokes. We will finally vote in midterm elections. We might even try grandma’s gefilte fish for the first time.

But where to go on the most important day of the year to wipe your slate clean? If you’re choosing one service to refuel the Jew in you, it should be the one you resonate with most. Whether you’re looking for a social gathering with your peers to talk politics, or an atmosphere focused on prayer and song, we’ll have you seated in no time.

Upper East Side

Welcome to Temple Emanu-el, the Upper East Side’s ritzy Reform synagogue known for its stunning sanctuary. Seats in the main sanctuary are for members only, but guests can purchase a seat for $150, per holiday, if they tag along with a friend that has a membership. Also, college students who are members or guests are encouraged to join High Holy Day services in the Lowenstein Sanctuary (10 East 66th Street) by presenting a student ID. After prayers, at 12:30pm on Wednesday, take part in the temple’s Yom Kippur Study Sessions with both congregants and guests. At these sessions, participants will learn about Jewish philosophy with Rabbi Richard Davis, the women who shaped Jewish history with Rabbi Phil Hiat, and other insightful teachings. Community worship services, featuring live audio and video from the main sanctuary, are open to the public in the I.M. Wise Hall. For more information on Temple Emanu-el’s services, visit their site here.

East Village

At the Jewish Learning Center of New York, there are no tickets or membership fees. Yes, that’s right — it’s free. Join their minyan at The Bronfman Center for Jewish Life on the Downtown Campus of NYU located at 7 E 10th St. Rabbi David Kalb will be officiating along with their baalei tefilah (prayer leaders), Rabbi Isaiah Rothstein and Yitzchak Schwartz. For more information on this meaningful experience, fill out a High Holiday form on their their website.

Upper West Side

Get your groove on with uplifting music and dancing at Kol Haneshamah. Daven Carbelach-style at these free High Holiday services. This energetic center for spiritual life welcomes Jews of all backgrounds. You can request child care and admission to a break-fast. Peruse their full schedule and fill out the days you plan on attending here.


On Kol Nidrei night, the JCC of Harlem invites congregants to participate in a free gender-egalitarian service with English and Hebrew readings led by Rabbi David Gedzelman. Email theharlemminyan@gmail.com to register for Tuesday night services. For $18, hear Hebrew prayers, storytelling, and reflect on how to forgive yourself on Wednesday morning. Free day time learning will be led by JCC Harlem and Beineinu, Rabbi Laurie Phillips and Daphna Mor, “to explore texts of the soul, deepening the connection and meaning through chanting melodies from the Jewish communities of Iraq, India, Israel, the United States, and more.” Break the fast with a dairy buffet, at $25 per adult, $12 per child, and $100 per family or group up to six people.

Crown Heights

This year, Romemu is ‘awakening the truth’ on Yom Kippur with Rabbi David Ingber. Because their Manhattan services are completely sold out, they’ve opened an alternate way to daven with Hazzan Basya Schechter and Rabbi Abby Sosland in Brooklyn. The cost of a single adult ticket is $72, $36 for college students, and $18 for guests under 18-years-old. Click here to register and see their full prayer line-up and Brooklyn locations.

Just remember, purchasing high holiday tickets last minute is like purchasing tickets to a Beyoncé concert the day before her performance…Move quickly, before they’re sold out!

Yom Kippur Services In New York City: The Forward’s Picks

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