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October 4, 2015 | 21st Tishrei 5776
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Rosh HaShanah Second Day and Night

  1. [Our temple] instituted 2nd day Rosh HaShanah services about four years ago. (The last time we counted, about half of the congregations in the Greater Chicago area were also holding 2nd day services.) These are the things that characterize the service--

    1. About 200 attendees, as compared to 1400 or more first day
    2. 2nd liturgy from GOR
    3. No sermon--a discussion with lots of congregational participation
    4. No professional choir (although one year our volunteer choir participated)
    5. All kids who know how are invited up for shofar-blowing (and there is a pre-holiday tutorial)
    6. Light buffet lunch following the service


  2. We hold a very successful 2nd day service, outdoors in the mountains, about a thirty minute drive from the congregation. We've been doing this for about fifteen years and it is very well attended, in fact packed. Our congregants talk about it all year long and tell others. It is a feature that makes our congregation special. The service is rabbi and cantor led, using a machzor written for this purpose. We bring a small, more portable Torah for this service. People are encouraged to bring picnic lunches and stay after the oneg to hike, picnic, etc. Because the setting is so beautiful, it lends itself to a special sense of spirituality and blessing for the new year.

    Many people say it reminds them of their years as campers in Jewish camps. The service attracts all ages, and has often been an entry point for return of those who have been largely unaffiliated. Because it is in an open outdoor space, and people bring their own blankets or chairs to sit on, there is no limit on how many can attend.

    Approx 600 family units

  3. Our temple has held lay services for many years on the second day. One of our very knowledgeable congregants and former teachers leads the service, and other members are prepared for the Torah and haftora readings. At the start he asks for the needed volunteers for aliyahs, raising and binding, etc. It used to be that we had a volunteer who did the singing; the way it is at the moment, members of the volunteer choir who wish to be part of the service divide up the cue sheet and each takes part leading or singing the musical liturgy.

    The service is in the chapel and has always been well attended. It is less formal, but every year I hear comments from congregants who come that they enjoy this service more than the big formal one. It is a nice way also for congregants to take part in planning and participating in the service. The rabbis attend but take no part in the service.

    The service is followed by some nasherai.


  4. Our congregation has attracted many members who were raised in a more traditional manner and considered themselves "hard wired" for a second day service. Two years ago, when the request came before the committee again, the advocates did a good job rallying the supporters. After much emotional discussion at committee and board meetings, a decision was made to introduce a second day service, at least on a trial basis.

    Attendance the first year was about 150-175 people. This year's service was attended by about 200-225 people. Our young families group sponsored a reception following the service, which helped to publicize and attract people to the service. As you know, for the past two years, the second day has been a Sunday. Some say the real test will be next year when it falls on a weekday.

    As a point of comparison, our congregation is almost 1,000 families. Attendance at the early and late shift for first day Rosh HaShanah morning service exceeds 1,000 at each. Our family service had about 800 people. Attendees at the second day know they can arrive five minutes before the service and get a spot in the parking lot and a seat in the sanctuary. They don't have to park in the remote lot and ride the shuttle bus, and they are not the back of the overflow section. And since we don't check tickets, they can bring friends and family, including children.

    Our two rabbis and one cantor officiate at the service. There is no choir that day. We use a congregant as the organist. Since our tradition is to follow Service II in the siddur for the first day, but read the Akedah, which is in Service I, we do the reverse for second day--we use Service I and read B'reshit.

    almost 1,000 families

  5. My congregation, 600 + families, has held services for the second day of Rosh HaShanah as long as I can remember. The service is clergy led, and since we use the CCAR's Gates of Repentence, we usually use the Morning Service I for the 1st day and Morning Service II for the second day. Our attendance at this service is approximately one third of attendance on the 1st day, when we hold two services at 9:30 and 11:30. Our congregation is aging, and the majority of those who attend the second day are seniors, although a core group of younger regulars and their families attend. On the 1st day we also hold separate services for children from preschool through grades 3 and our youth group conducts a service erev the 2nd day.

  6. We hold a second day service, and it has been growing in popularity each year. I can remember when we had less than half the sanctuary filled. Now the sanctuary and social hall are at capacity! The service is clergy led and most of our choir sing. We do not have a sermon per se but rather a responsa. After services we walk down to the stream at the bottom of the property and do Tashlich. It feels much more relaxed than the first day.
    about 600 families

  7. At [our congregation] our ritual committee runs the entire second day service. Many members take part in the service, and our rabbi is part of the congregation that day. Since he loves to chant Torah, we always ask him. After the service we all carpool to a nearby lake for Taschlich. It makes for a wonderful, deeply meaningful day.

  8. Our congregation holds second day RH services. The attendance is similar to a Friday night service. After the double services on the 1st day (8:30 and 11:30 am) which are necessary to accommodate the congregation in our building, I find them refreshing and prefer the service to 1st day. Tickets are not checked, few ushers are needed, parking plentiful, some honors are "handed out" right before the service, and everyone is more relaxed. The service is led by our clergy and the choir sings (a bit fewer in number). The service format is the same, Rabbi gives a sermon and our shofar chorus (smaller than 1sr day) is there. This year a playful puppy who was roaming loose outside bounded in for a moment (Rabbi told the congregants that it was making sure we had a minyan) and further loosened it up before being shooed away. Perhaps it should have come on the first day when folks need to be loosened up a bit more!

    While many people are resistant to attending 2nd day services, many people enjoy and desire them. For that group, and perhaps as a community service for non-members, visiting family etc. who won't or can't purchase a ticket, I personally think that they should be held if possible, either with clergy or lay-led if clergy are not available.

    600 plus families

  9. We are a congregation of 350 families. It has been the custom of this congregation to hold services on both the 1st and 2nd days of Rosh HaShanah with the rabbi, cantorial soloist and choir. On the first day, we usually have about 1,000 people in attendance, utilizing the Rosh HaShanah Morning Service I from the Reform machzor. On the second day, we usually have 300-350 worshipers, and do Rosh HaShanah Morning Service II. This is certainly a larger group of worshipers than we get on a typical Shabbat evening, and would pack our sanctuary if the doors to the rooms in the back were not opened up. (We would close them for the second day, but it is not a simple task.) This year, we asked bar/bat mitzvah students who were trained in our congregation and have continued in our Mitzvah Corps and Confirmation program to read and chant from the Torah during services.It was a beautiful addition to our service.

  10. Our ritual committee would like to know how many temples do not hold second night services for Rosh HaShanah. We have had very poor attendance these past few years and are considering not having them. Of course we would continue second morning, where the attendance is usually good.
    95 families

  11. Neither the congregation I belong to nor the one I work in hold second night Rosh HaShanah services. [The one I work in] holds services for the first two days of Passover and the last two days, and two days for Sukkot and two for Shavuot, and two mornings for Rosh HaShanah. I believe it does this because...when it started, it was the only synagogue in the area, and in order to be as inclusive as possible, it had a more traditional schedule to attract those who might have affiliated with a conservative congregation if it was in the area (now there are Conservative and Orthodox [in the area], and Reform is in the minority, but in 1947, there were no other congregations.)

  12. We do not hold second night services for Rosh HaShanah, and no one has ever requested them.
    85 Family Members

  13. [Our congregation] does not hold second night Rosh HaShanah services. However, there has been some talk about having a service the second morning--anticipating that would not be particularly well attended.
    About 600 families

  14. Our synagogue does not, and never has to my knowledge, held second night or second day service for Rosh HaShanah or any festival. The office closes for first day observance only.

  15. At [our congregation] we do not hold second day Rosh HaShanah services, but in the [vicinity], I believe, there is some movement among fellow Reform congregations to do so and hold services on the morning of second day. These are often more informal than the services on the first day. Not sure about second night.

  16. At [our congregation] we do not hold services on the second night or day of Rosh HaShanah. There has not been a significant clamor for us to do so even though we have been turning toward the traditional in many other respects. Those of our members who want to go to services on the second day have many alternative places to go in the area.
    1200 families

  17. [Our congregation does] not have services on the second day or second night of Rosh HaShanah, nor do we, as a general rule, have Shabbat morning services when there is no bar or bat mitzvah. At least part of the reason for the latter is that, as a small, almost-exclusively lay led congregation, it is challenging enough to find people to take turns leading Kabbalat Shabbat services.
    About 60 families

  18. This year for the first time our temple had a service on the second day of Rosh HaShanah, but it didn't extend into the night. It was conducted by the rabbi (he requested to have the second day service), but we did not have the cantor we hire for the other HHD Services. Otherwise, it was the "traditional" service. We are not a huge congregation. Attendance was adequate but large. Those attending liked the more intimate ambiance and that it could be more participatory (i.e. Honors--aliyot, dressing the Torah, etc., were volunteers from the attending congregation). This happened to be held on a Sunday, but if it were a weekday, whether we would have had a decent turnout I don't know.

    We are exploring incorporating a Tashlich ceremony into the second day observance next year. We have never done Tashlich before. I am interested in hearing from some of the congregations that I know hold something different ("alternative," musical, or family-oriented services) on the second day. Also, in those cases do most people come both the first and second day, or do they just choose one of the days to attend?


  19. Our congregation has about 700 families and about 200 children--up to age 21.

    We do not hold a second day Rosh Hashanah service at the Synagogue but a few members, including the rabbi and choir members, go to a local nursing home where a service is held. No service is held either first or second night Rosh HaShanah although we do have Havdalah on the first night.


  20. We have never held services on the second night of Rosh Hashanah--it's never even been discussed. We have always had a service the second morning: no choir, fewer honors and a discussion instead of a sermon. Actually, our assistant rabbi has challenged the Ritual Committee to develop a rationale for why we hold a service on the second day.
    1000+ family units

  21. far not one temple has reported holding second night services. Most have no second morning services as well.

    It is true that our small shul started out as Conservative and in the 1970's became Reform. For many years now we wanted to "do away with" second night, but were holding on for the few who might still want it. Now those few don't even show up. My ritual committee will be making a recommendation to the board to not hold second night Rosh HaShanah services. We will continue second morning.

    95 families

  22. My temple does not offer second night Rosh HaShanah services. We have had second day services for as long as I can remember. Attendance has grown yearly as more people become aware, and as the calendar allows. The past couple of years, it has fallen on a weekend, so that it is easier to attend for those who have to juggle multiple schedules. Tashlich follows at a nearby lake which is within walking distance.

    The only second night service we have is Second Seder, which allows families to have their own on the first night, and a community experience the second.


  23. This year for the first time, at the suggestion of our rabbi, our temple experimented with holding a service on the 2nd day of Rosh HaShanah, but it didn't extend into the night. It was conducted by the rabbi, but without the guest cantor we employ for the other HHD Services. Otherwise, it was the "traditional" service. We are not a huge congregation. Attendance was adequate but not large. Those attending liked the more intimate ambiance and that it could be more participatory (i.e. Honors--aliyot, dressing the Torah, etc, were done by volunteers from the attending congregation). This time the 2nd day happened to be a Sunday, but if it had been a weekday (work/school day) whether we would have a decent turnout I don't know. We will publicize the 2nd day service better in the future, and are exploring incorporating our first-time-ever Taschlich ceremony into the 2nd day observance next year.

    I am interested in hearing from some of the congregations that do something different from the 1st Day on the 2nd Day (i.e. an "alternative," musical, or family-oriented service). In those cases do most people come both the 1st and 2nd day, or do they just choose one of the days to attend?


  24. A second-night community seder is held annually here. It is housed in our local Jewish Community Center (not a synagogue but like a "Y"), where there is a strictly kosher kitchen.

  25. My hypothesis is that 2nd day is now--let's not say prevalent, but at least not uncommon--because Reform congregations are well-populated with refugees from the other streams, in many instances because the congregation is the only game in town and has to accommodate the total Jewish community.

    When my congregation adopted a second day of observance, it packaged the worship differently from first day:

    1. Volunteer choir rather than the professional choir
    2. Interactive study session rather than a sermon
    3. Clergy at ground level rather than on the bimah
    4. Service #2 in Gates
    5. Buffet lunch following services, no charge, no reservations (that has changed--the lunch is still there, but now by reservations and with a charge)

    There is a cadre of perhaps 200 who attend 2nd day, as compared to close to ten times that number the day before. It seems to make relatively little difference whether 2nd day falls on Sunday or not. Obviously the whole tone is lighter and less ponderous, but without losing the solemnity appropriate to the occasion.

    Perhaps there are some ideas here that other congregations will find applicable. Exploring questions of If and How and Why are the primary reasons for iWorship, not just Yes, we do this, No, we don't. Frankly, I have never discussed with our clergy why they introduced this service--but I'm glad they did.

    Sidelight: Our neighboring Conservative congregation (where for many years I went on 2nd day) runs parallel services in the community hall on the first day, because the sanctuary won't accommodate everyone--but only one service on the second day. Now in their tradition the 2nd day is mandated--so while we have to ask, why do we come, they have to ask, why don't they.

    1400 member units

  26. This is a new practice at [our congregation], started this past year. (The second High Holiday season for our new rabbi). We have many members who have previously belonged to Conservative congregations so on the one hand it meets their needs if they choose to come. However, I think the real reason is different. The service is much less formal. It allows for spontaneous participation where the first day is entirely planned and ordered from start to finish knowing exactly who will read what and do what. Those who attended (and I was not one of them this year) said that they loved the quiet intimacy of the service with a relatively small number of participants compared to the first day when the sanctuary is SRO. We have a volunteer choir that sings on the first day, but not on the second. So the entire service is much less formal and more participatory. A different mood, a different way of doing things. Very appealing to a significant number of congregants. I'm sure we will continue to hold this service--and I don't think that having it on a weekday rather than a weekend will make much difference in attendance.
    160 units

  27. Larry asks about 2nd day Rosh HaShanah Services, and asks why? Here at [our congregation] we have had 2nd day services for many years, (about eighteen). We do this not because we are the only game in town and need to accommodate members from other strains of Judaism, but because our members, and many non-members, love our outdoor service in the mountains. Yes, we conduct 2nd day service outdoors in a beautiful mountain area. For those who went to summer camp, this is like the services we remember at camp. For those who didn't it is a recreation of an early Judaic experience of the service on the mountainside, overlooking the desert. It has become a valued part of the larger Albuquerque Jewish Community.

    For other congregations considering such a 2nd day service, consider doing something outdoors; a park, a mountainside, at the ocean, etc. It changes things and provides a new way for those who want something to stimulate their spirituality.

    700 families

  28. We're about 270 families. For most of our history, we had 2nd day services at someone's house. [For t]hose of us who went through that, it was the best, most intimate service of the year. The last few years, we've done 2nd day in the synagogue. We manage to fit everyone on the bimah, so it still has an intimate feel. We've tried Ma'ariv twice, but it's never been successful. Attendance is poor, and it's hard to figure out a liturgical thrust for the service. Most people are tired from being in shul all day. They need to recharge their batteries before they can pray again.

  29. Oct 2006 Digest 153

                We had our first-ever service for the second day of Rosh HaShanah. Our senior rabbi brought up the idea with the Worship Committee last spring; we all talked about it and agreed that we should do this. A member of the committee asked if we could assemble some of our own readings instead of just using the service out of the machzor like the previous day, and a small subcommittee formed to gather some candidates.

                I was part of this subcommittee…We talked about the parts of the service that were candidates for English alternatives, and we talked about the themes those readings should satisfy. People brought in a variety of sources, and we winnowed the pile down. Finally, the subcommittee met with the senior rabbi (who had some suggestions of his own), and we went through the machzor and the candidate readings and made decisions about what to insert where (and which readings were great on their own but just didn't fit). The chair of the Worship Committee also had input into this, but I'm not sure what form it took (he was not on the subcommittee). Our rabbi then handed everything off to a very capable and dedicated staff member who turned it into nice service booklets.

                Members of the Worship Committee (not just the subcommittee) shared in the leading of this service, along with our two rabbis. We got a lot of positive feedback.


    860 households
  30. March 2007 Digest 042

                Last year, for the first time, we held a "second" service on Rosh HaShanah morning. It was originally intended for families whose kids were too old for the Children's Service (for 2-6-year olds), but not comfortable in a full-length service. Our rabbis spent a good deal of time crafting it.

                Turns out it was wildly successful. Our half-time rabbi led, with an HUC student as song-leader, while our two full-time rabbis and the cantor held the "regular" service at [a theater] about ten blocks away. The congregation in the Sanctuary numbered about 600 (unofficial), close to a full house. A fair number of adults came, and were extremely happy with it. We will expand it to include a Yom Kippur morning service this year.


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