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High Holy Days at The Temple of Universal Judaism and TorahNYC

Frequently Asked Questions

​Who sponsors your High Holiday services?
Our services are sponsored by The Temple of Universal Judaism (TUJ), a Union for Reform Judaism Congregation  -and-  TorahNYC: Reform Jewish Outreach, a Project of TUJ.

Do I have to be a member of The Temple of Universal Judaism -or- TorahNYC to attend High Holy Day services?
All of TUJ’s and TorahNYC’s services and events – including the High Holy Days – are open to all.


Anyone (both Jews or non-Jews) can become a member of our Reform Jewish congregation. Our very modest annual dues are $575 per adult.  Reduced-cost Membership is available: contact Rabbi Fridkis.


What costs are involved?
TorahNYC-TUJ’s Open Doors policy means non-Members are always welcome.

The High Holy Days incur a great expense to the congregation.

All guests are asked to contribute the minimum per service.  Simply put, we need your help to keep our doors open to all. To be sensitive to all, we do maintain a sliding fee scale.


Our suggested Minimum Contributions are:

26 Years or Over: Minimum $45 – $125 per person per each High Holy Day Service.

Age 13 through 25: Minimum $25 – $60 per person per each High Holy Day Service.

For Family Services Only: Minimum $30 – $125 per family per each Family Holy Day Service.
A Family is defined as Parent(s) -or- Other Adult(s) plus Children.

Our Minimum Contributions are very low by NYC standards.  We understand a few individuals may need to give less.  We depend on your generosity so those who have less can share the Holy Days with us.


What if I cannot afford the Minimum Contribution per service?
If our $45 minimum ($25 for those age 13 through 25) is impossible, please contact us ( before the Holy Days for Scholarship assistance.

If you have not contacted us ahead of time, you are welcome to discreetly discuss your needs with Annette or Kevin at the Registration Table.


Is there a charge for Yizkor Services?
TUJ-TorahNYC has a very open and fiscally liberal policy for guests and non-members.

Yizkor is a meaningful service at TUJ:  we thus view Yizkor the same as all other Holy Day services.  Guests are asked to contribute the minimum of $45 – $125  ($25 – $60 for those age 13 through 25) for Yizkor.

See our policy (immediately above) regarding those who cannot meet the minimum of $45 per person per each High Holy Day Service  ($25 for those age 13 through 25).


I don’t carry $ or Credit Cards on Yom Kippur.  Is that a problem?
We ask everyone visiting TUJ for High Holy Day services to do their part by meeting the Minimum Contribution of $45 – $125 per person per each High Holy Day Service  ($25 – $60 for those age 13 through 25).

If you do not carry $ or Credit Cards on Yom Kippur, you can arrange to make your Minimum Contribution ahead of time.  Please be sure to mail your check or contact us a week before you plan to attend.)

– via check:

TUJ Office
1010 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10028
(Please be sure to mail your check or contact us a week before you plan to attend.)

– via PayPal at Please email us at so we can credit your contribution to your name and reservation.

– via Credit Card. Please email and someone will call to take your Credit Card #.

Are reservations or tickets required?
Reservations are never required.  You may make your contribution at the Registration Table.  When possible, we prefer that you reserve a place so we can greet you by name.

We also host a festive and plentiful Rosh Hashanah Kiddush (post-service reception with no additional charge!) so your RSVP for lunch will be especially helpful.

Tickets for each service are distributed at the Registration Table to those who have made the Minimum Contribution (or requested scholarship assistance).


Are non-Jews invited to attend?
Of course!  TUJ and TorahNYC welcome all people.  TUJ was funded 45 years ago – and TorahNYC 12 years ago – with a commitment of inclusion for all!

For almost 30 years Rabbi Fridkis has embraced interfaith couples and performed their weddings.

TUJ includes both Jews and non-Jews, interfaith couples, dual religion families, agnostics and humanists, gays and lesbians, singles and people of all ages and colors as full members of the congregation.


Do you hold special services for families and children?
Family Services oriented toward children ages 3 – 12 years are held on:

Rosh Hashanah morning (12 Noon)   -and-
     Yom Kippur afternoon (1 pm).

We ask a parent or grandparent to accompany children.

Each family is asked to contribute the Minimum $30 – $125 per family per each Family Holy Day Service.

On Rosh Hashanah families are invited to take part in our festive post-service Kiddush reception.

A Family is defined as Parent(s) -or- Other Adult(s) plus Children.


What is TUJ’s plan for the Rosh Hashanah Family Service?

On Rosh Hashanah, Family Services begin @ 12pm Noon for the congregational Shofar service.

Children will be invited to the Bima – Hebrew for “Pulpit” – to witness the sounding of the Shofar.  Following the conclusion of the Main Service (approx 12:30pm), families remain for a special family-oriented experience led by Rabbi Fridkis and Cantor Anesi.

Every child will have the opportunity to view the Torah up close and touch the scroll.  When children come to Open the Ark with Rabbi Fridkis they will be surprised to find an “ark-ful” of small, age-appropriate presents for each. But shhhh please! – don’t ruin the surprise!

At approximately 1pm, all are invited to our Rosh Hashanah Kiddush Luncheon with both adult and family-friendly foods.

Following lunch we will head to the East River for the Tashlich Service which many children enjoy.  In case of inclement weather we will remain at the synagogue for Tashlich.


What is Tashlich and how is it celebrated at TUJ?
Tashlich is an ancient ceremony – typically held at a natural body of water – where worshippers discard breadcrumbs symbolizing the casting away of sins.

Following our festive Kiddush reception, we will walk to the East River for this very old tradition.

In addition to discarding breadcrumbs, those attending are invited to write a few words on a card with a part of oneself one would like to “discard,” placing the cards anonymously in a basket.

Children – with or without the help of parents – will also be asked to draw, write or make a wish of goodness for the coming year.


What is TUJ’s plan for the Yom Kippur Family Service?
On Yom Kippur, families are invited at 1pm for a snack and family-children’s Yom Kippur experience led by Rabbi Fridkis and Cantor Anesi.

Children will be invited to learn to sound the Shofar by a professional “Shofar-ist.”  There will also be toy Shofars for the younger children.

Families who wish to return to the synagogue to witness the close of Yom Kippur should arrive between 6-615pm.  Children (and parents if they’d like) are invited to march to the Bima for the final


Sounding of the Shofar and Havdalah.  Children and adults able to sound the Shofar are invited to do so in front of the entire congregation!

Havdalah – celebrated with Wine, Candles and Spices – marks the end of Yom Kippur and the beginning of a spiritual new year.  Children will be given flame-less light sticks to hold in lieu of candles.


Are young children welcome at TUJ’s Main Services?
Because Holy Day services are adult-oriented, many children find them long or difficult to sit through.

We don’t mind an infant’s scream or toddler’s peep for a brief second. However if children are making noise, we request you take them from the Sanctuary without time lapse.  Unfortunately, due to construction – there is no separate space to accommodate children during the Main Service this year.

We request that you not bring infants or very young children to Kol Nidre (Yom Kippur Eve) and Yizkor (Yom Kippur Afternoon, 5pm – 530pm).


Are there times TUJ encourages children at the Main Service?
On Rosh Hashanah those attending the Family Service will join the Main Service at 12pm for the Sounding of the Shofar.  Rabbi Fridkis will invite children to the pulpit to be blessed.

Toward the end of the Yom Kippur Closing Service, children join us in the front of the Sanctuary with flame-less candles (light sticks).  Cantor Anesi and the children will lead the congregation in a Nigun (melody without words, i.e. “La La La”) and Rabbi Fridkis will invite them close for a special blessing before the Shofar is sounded.


What can you tell us about Temple of Universal Judaism-TorahNYC High Holy Day services?
Our services are similar to those of mainstream Reform congregations.  Cantor Anesi and our Choir of professionals and congregants – along with a Piano Accompanist – sing and chant Hebrew prayers, always translated and transliterated.  There are contemporary English readings side by side the Hebrew.


What melodies and traditions do you sing and follow?
The music at TUJ is a combination of Eastern European and American melodies used by Reform, Conservative and Orthodox congregations – as well as uniquely Reform, contemporary Jewish Holy Day music.

If you’ve attended Reform congregations for the High Holy Days, you will find our melodies familiar.  If you are used to Conservative or Orthodox services, some will be familiar, others less so.


Are instruments used at TUJ’s High Holy Day service?
A pianist will accompany the Cantor and Choir.  At Kol Nidre – and on Yom Kippur afternoon – we are blessed with the beautiful strings of the cello. During creative moments in the service, Cantor Anesi will grace us with guitar.

The Shofar is sounded at three services: once at the beginning of Rosh Hashanah Eve, many times late on Rosh Hashanah Morning and once again at the end of the Yom Kippur. If you are able to sound the Shofar (or any brass instrument) we invite you to see Rabbi Fridkis to add your Shofar sound in front of the congregation.


What is unique about High Holy Day services at TUJ?
Much about our services is unique.  We hope you will feel our spirit of welcome and openness.  You will certainly be greeted warmly.  Our members are friendly and accessible.  Rabbi Fridkis and Cantor Anesi’s style is warm and inclusive.

Rabbi Fridkis creates services that are both intellectual and spiritual.  He will lead us in readings that interpret Jewish tradition and High Holy Days themes in an unfolding modern idiom.


Will some services be more traditional and some more creative?
There will be a balance of tradition and creativity at services.

We include most of the traditional High Holy Day liturgy – prayers in synagogue use for a thousand years or more.  During morning services – and on Yom Kippur afternoon – a short portion of the Torah will be read in Hebrew from the un-vocalized ancient scroll.

We also include poetic and interpretive readings on the Rosh Hashanah themes of creation, humanity, universalism and compassion – and on the Yom Kippur themes of prayer-meditation, repentance and tzedakah (justice and good deeds).

We have a unique and modern Shofar service on late Rosh Hashanah morning, including American folk melodies.  On Yom Kippur Afternoon there are many deeply spiritual, contemporary English readings as well as 20th century secular – yet quite spiritual – vocal music.


Is congregational participation encouraged?
At TUJ-TorahNYC, the participation of the congregation is vital to our spirituality.  Worshippers are encouraged to sing with our Cantor and Choir. Rabbi Fridkis will actively engage the congregation in English and some Hebrew readings.

Rabbi Fridkis will also walk around the congregation during morning services inviting congregants to read a line of a responsive English reading. He will invite individuals to name a person they are praying for during the Prayer for Those Who Are Ill.


How long are High Holy Day services at TUJ?
Evening Services begin at 8pm and end at approximately 10pm.

Morning Services are a bit longer: beginning at 10am and lasting until 1230pm.


Is it appropriate to leave services early or arrive late?
We believe each individual should decide when to arrive and how long to stay.  Please enter and exit quietly so not to disturb others.


It is inappropriate to enter or exit the sanctuary during:

– recitation of standing prayers
– quiet meditational moments
– reading of the Torah scroll
– preceding the end of each service
– during the first hour of the Yom Kippur Eve (Kol Nidre) Service
– during the Yizkor (Memorial) Service

It is also inappropriate to enter or exit the Sanctuary during, immediately preceding or immediately following the Rabbi’s Sermon.


What is the schedule for Yom Kippur Afternoon, Yizkor & Neila Services?
Yom Kippur Afternoon Services begin at 315pm and include prayers, Torah Reading and a special service commemorating Jewish history.

The Yizkor (Memorial) Service begins at approximately 5pm and continues for about thirty minutes.

The Neila (Closing) Services begins at approximately 530pm and concludes around 615pm, followed by the Sounding of the Shofar and Havdalah: the traditional ritual of separation between Holy Days and the rest of the week.

Though we realize many are fasting and/or anxious to join family and friends for the traditional Break-the-Fast, we ask all present for the Yizkor Service (5pm) to remain for the additional 45 minutes until the conclusion of Yom Kippur and the Sounding of the Shofar and Havdalah around 615pm.

Please remain with us to witness the beauty of a new generation of children – candles in hand as they share the light of Torah – and behold the majestic final Sounding of the Shofar.


Does one need to fast – or should one fast – while attending Yom Kippur services at TUJ-TorahNYC?
Reform Judaism maintains intention and belief are as important as ritual. AT TUJ we take pride in the idea that each individual must be free to choose her or his own type of observance.

Fasting on Yom Kippur is a time-honored Mitzvah (a tradition holding the weight of Jewish law) followed by a majority of Reform Jews.  Judaism saw fasting on Yom Kippur as a way to focus on the inner spirit.

There is far more to Yom Kippur, however, than refraining from food or drink.  The prophet Isaiah spoke of this twenty-seven hundred years ago! We will hear Isaiah’s words (Isaiah 58: 5-7) on Yom Kippur morning during the recitation of the Haftarah (additional scriptural) reading.

Jewish law mandated that one who is ill – even if not gravely – should not fast.  One should never stop taking medication on Yom Kippur, even if it requires drinking water or eating food.  A person’s health and life triumphs all commandments.

For Reform Jews, the essence of Yom Kippur is not the Mitzvah of fasting but the Mitzvah of observing an introspective day focusing on (1) prayer & meditation, (2) repentance: changing one’s self-destructive and unkind ways and (3) committing to a life of Tzedakah: just acts of giving and loving-kindness.


ABOUT The Temple of Universal Judaism & TorahNYC

What kind of congregation is The Temple of Universal Judaism?  What is TorahNYC?
The Temple of Universal Judaism is a URJ: Union for Reform Judaism congregation.  TUJ and TorahNYC are Reform-Liberal-Progressive Jewish organizations.


The name – The Temple of Universal Judaism – does not sound typical. What does it signify?
TUJ is a mainstream URJ: Union for Reform Judaism congregation.

We are different from other Reform congregations in that we not only welcome, but truly embrace individuals of all backgrounds, colors and sexual orientations.  And we are very different in that we include both Jews and non-Jews as full members of our Reform Jewish congregation.  Most other Reform congregations in the NYC area do not embrace and support non-Jews to the level we do at TUJ.


Why do The Temple of Universal Judaism and TorahNYC meet in a church? Do you have your own synagogue building?
Both TUJ and TorahNYC operate on limited budgets.  We do not own a building, as the costs of its maintenance are great.  We prefer to keep membership fees low and our doors open to all for the Holy Days and throughout the year.

We rent space from very gracious friends at The Park Avenue Christian Church (PACC).  PACC and TUJ are separate organizations.  PACC is a progressive mainstream Protestant church and TUJ is a progressive mainstream Reform Jewish congregation.

What we do share is a building, friendship and a collective concept of openness to all people.  To us at TUJ, our meeting place at 1010 Park Avenue is our synagogue.


Is The Temple of Universal Judaism at 1010 Park Ave (@85th St) handicap accessible?
The Sanctuary is 100% accessible to the handicapped and disabled via a short indoor handicap ramp (no steps involved for those who cannot manage them) accessed from E 85th St.

Bathrooms too are 100% accessible to the handicapped and disabled via a small electric lift.


We hope you will join us for the Holy Days or visit us anytime during the 5778, the Jewish New Year.

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