Our High Holiday Traditions

On Rosh HaShana and Kippur, the sanctuary takes on a special aura of purity and holiness. The Reader’s Desk and Ark are draped in white. The Torah scrolls are dressed in white silk cloaks. The Myer Myers Rimonim, designed by a leading figure in 18th century congregational life, grace the Torah scroll from which the Torah is read on the first day of Rosh Hashanah.

The melodies which characterize the High Holy Day season are haunting in their beauty. While led by our Hazzan and choir, the entire congregation joins in the chanting of the prayers.

To highlight the solemnity of the High Holy Days, the Hazzan covers his head with his prayer shawl while officiating at services. He is flanked by two congregants, known as Seganim, who stand in support of the Hazzan.

For many years, Shearith Israel has provided a parallel service in the L. Napoleon Levy Auditorium. These services are less formal than services in the synagogue’s Main Sanctuary and include engaging explanations of the services.

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