High Holy Days

At Central Synagogue

In Person (Tickets Required)

Worship in our Main Sanctuary and at Avery Fisher Hall is exclusively for our members during Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. The general public may purchase tickets to our Community services.

Members in good standing receive their tickets automatically in the mail in August.

Community service tickets may be purchased online and go on sale in late spring/early summer. The cost to attend these services is $200 per person per holiday or $400 per person for both holidays.

Members may request guest tickets for close family members to join them at a service. Guest ticket requests are fulfilled so long as space permits and cost $200 per guest per holiday.

For questions about membership and tickets to our High Holy Days services, contact our Member Services team.

Via Live Stream 

All services taking place in our Main Sanctuary are live streamed and can be viewed on your computer, laptop, phone or iPad. 

By Phone

All services taking place in our Main Sanctuary can be heard via our call-in service.

Visit our High Holy Days Online Guide for details on how to join us as we welcome 5780.

Our High Holy Day Journey

Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur routinely get top billing during the High Holy Days, but it is truly a season that starts in the Jewish month of Elul. During Elul (the month before Rosh HaShanah, usually in mid-August), we begin our season of reflection. During Elul, and especially in the days leading up to Rosh HaShanah where we participate in the service of Slichot, we begin to take stock of our lives and understand where we have been in the past 12 months. While Elul is a time for individual work, Rosh HaShanah reminds us that we must also take stock as a community and commit ourselves to acts of tzedakah (justice) and tikkun olam (repairing the world). When Yom Kippur comes around 10 days later, each of us is obligated to have asked for forgiveness from those we have harmed so that we may do the real work of teshuva (repentance) – figuring out how we are going to engage in deep change, both with ourselves and with our community.

Immediately after Yom Kippur, we are commanded to start building our sukkot, little huts that we will dwell in for the coming week. Sukkot is the only holiday in the Torah where we are commanded to be joyful. We have torn ourselves down over Yom Kippur, confessing our sins and asking for forgiveness, and now we have the opportunity to celebrate our renewed relationship with God and with one another over Sukkot. Immediately on the heels of Sukkot comes Sh’mini Atzeret and Simchat Torah, where our joy overflows as we dance with the Torah, end and begin the reading of the Torah and recommit ourselves to living lives of purpose and meaning in the coming year.

There is a Jewish story that suggests that each of us should walk around with two pieces of paper in our pockets. The first says, I am but dust and ashes and the second says, for my sake the world was created. The High Holy Days are our time to balance both of these ideas, by understanding both our own fragility and mortality in the universe, and our great power to ensure that the world does not look the same in the coming year as it does today. The entire High Holy Day season, from Elul through Simchat Torah, teaches us that we have the responsibility and the ability to close the gap between the world as it stands and the world as it ought to be.

Rosh HaShanah

Rosh HaShanah is the holiday marking the start of the Jewish New Year, in Hebrew it translates to “head of the year.” The Rosh HaShanah holiday is marked by a period of celebration and reflection.

Rosh HaShanah at Central

We gather as a community on Rosh HaShanah afternoon at the East River and 56th street for the ritual of Tashlich. During this short gathering we toss bread into the river, symbolically casting our sins from the past year. The combination of this ancient ritual in our great city makes for a unique experience.

Rosh HaShanah resources from ReformJudaism.org.

Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur is a holiday that occurs ten days after Rosh HaShanah. Yom Kippur in Hebrew means “day of atonement.” Yom Kippur rituals include fasting, repenting, and asking for forgiveness.

Yom Kippur at Central

We invite congregants to let us know, anonymously, of sins they have committed over the past year. The clergy collect these sins and create a customized Al Cheit (the sin) ritual on Yom Kippur afternoon that reflects actual confessions from our community.

Yom Kippur resources from ReformJudaism.org.


Sukkot in Hebrew means “booths.” This holiday both celebrates the end of the harvest season and the period of time during which the ancient Israelites lived in temporary booths as they traveled from Egypt to Israel.

Sukkot at Central

We have three sukkot, all located in our community house: one in the lobby, one on the patio of the second floor, and one on the roof. These sukkot are decorated by our children. Throughout the week we hold services, classes, and other programs in our sukkot. Congregants are also invited to sit or dine in the sukkot during regular synagogue hours.

Sukkot resources from ReformJudaism.org.

Simchat Torah & Sh’mini Atzeret

Simchat Torah in Hebrew means “the joy of Torah” and Sh’mini Atzeret is a celebration that occurs on the “eighth day,” (sh’mini means eight, atzeret means celebration) the day following the seven-day holiday of Sukkot. Reform Jews celebrate and recognize these holidays simultaneously by reading the last passage and first passage of the Torah.

Simchat Torah & Sh’mini Atzeret at Central

We unfurl the entire Torah scroll in the sanctuary each Simchat Torah evening. Afterwards we invite all to the Pavilion for dancing and a festive kiddush. 

Simchat Torah & Sh’mini Atzeret resources from ReformJudaism.org.

High Holy Days 2020


Saturday, September 12

Erev Rosh HaShanah

Friday, September 18

Rosh HaShanah First Day

Saturday, September 19

Rosh HaShanah Second Day

Sunday, September 20

Kol Nidrei

Sunday, September 27

Yom Kippur

Monday, September 28


October 2-9

Sh’mini Atzeret–Simchat Torah

October 9-10