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High Holidays Customs

Tashlikh (Casting)

This Jewish tradition of symbolically casting our sins into the river is a cherished one at SAJ.  Join us on the first day of Rosh HaShanah, at 4:30PM, as we drop bread crumbs into the Hudson River.  Meet at the north end of the 79th Street Boat Basin (between 83rd and 84th at the Hudson River). All ages are welcome!  


Yom Kippur is one of two all day (25 hour) fast days on the holiday. For those who are physically able, we hope that you find meaning in this tradition. Please know that our tradition has great rachamim (compassion) for those who cannot fast for a variety of medical reasons — please do not push yourself if this is not right for your body! If you are not able to fast, you may still be able to experience the holiday by choosing more simple foods or by setting mindful intentions for eating.

Food Drive

As we empty our belly of food on Yom Kippur, our awareness is heightened of all those who go hungry every day, all around the world and in our own city. We encourage everyone to bring a check made out to the “Food Bank for NYC” to Kol Nidre. We also accept non-perishable donations.  Bins will be in the lobby of SAJ. Thank you in advance for your giving!

Wearing White & Dress on Yom Kippur

On Yom Kippur evening (Kol Nidre) and morning, we encourage our members to wear white.  The prophet Isaiah said that our sins and misdeeds can be made white as snow (Isaiah 1:18). The white clothing serves as a reminder to ourselves and to others that atonement is possible.  Other practices around dress you may choose are to abstain from leather, make-up or choosing simple clothing and shoes. Most importantly, be comfortable as it is a full day of sitting, standing, and bowing!

Bring your own Shofar to our Ne’ilah service (the final service) 

All are welcome to bring their own shofar and blast it as part of the final shofar blast, the Tekiya G’dola, of the holiday.

BYO Community Break the Fast

After Havdalah (the ritual of separation) at Ne’ilah, we encourage you to join us in the Social Hall for a BYO (Bring Your Own)  Break Fast. SAJ will provide soft drinks, paper goods, and desserts. You bring your own dairy or parve meal. It is a wonderful way to end the holiday together, and to get to know SAJers in an intimate setting.

Other High Holiday Traditions

There are many traditions associated with this holiday of repentance and atonement. It is customary that if one wears a tallit, to also wear a tallit on the evening of Kol Nidre (even though it’s not traditionally worn in the evening). During the service, there are times for full prostration instead of bowing– something only done on the High Holidays. If you feel comfortable, you are invited to try on this practice.

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