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High Holy Days 2021 & Updated Worship Policies

July 29, 2021 | General News | Messages From Leadership | Programs and Events | Worship and High Holidays

The following email was sent to our congregation on July 29, 2021

Dear Friends,

We wanted to share two important updates about our upcoming worship services, mindful as we are of both the remarkable progress that COVID vaccinations have created in our city and the growing challenges and uncertainty which the current Delta variant has introduced for us all.


We understand and share our community’s desire to be together in person for these upcoming High Holidays and are pleased to share some exciting developments. Many of you have enjoyed worshiping together at David Geffen Hall, which has become your spiritual home for the holidays. As you may know, David Geffen Hall has begun a multi-year renovation which will reduce their capacity by 20%, and thus sadly will no longer be suitable for our community. After considerable research, we want to share that our new second location will be the iconic Radio City Music Hall, a premier venue known for its outstanding acoustics and sightlines. We are confident Radio City will offer a meaningful opportunity to re-gather after so much time apart.

Services will also be held in the Sanctuary for families who worship there. Additionally, there will be several options for all members to spend time in the Sanctuary, including Erev Rosh Hashanah, the second day of Rosh Hashanah, and the popular Family Service on both holidays. Our current plan is for the Tot Service to be held in an outdoor venue; we will follow up with additional information as the holiday approaches. As with last year, we will have a full and robust online option for those who feel more comfortable worshipping remotely. Each member household will receive their individual service schedule shortly, along with other important details about the upcoming holidays.

For those of you wondering who our second cantor will be, we're happy to share that our beloved former cantorial intern, Shani Ben Or, will bring her dazzling voice and joyful spirit back to our community as she helps lead services throughout the High Holy Days.  

Our current plan for the High Holy Days is to welcome all vaccinated members, who will be required to show proof of vaccination. If you are not vaccinated and have requested an exception—or plan to attend services with children under 12 years old—you will be required to wear a mask and sit in a designated section. We are closely following CDC and NY State COVID guidelines; as we have shared in the past, these guidelines will be the floor, not the ceiling, of our requirements. We will continue to prioritize the health and safety of our community and will provide additional details about entry and exit requirements, masking, and any other safety protocols as we get closer to the holiday.


Our ability to be together in person for services—Shabbat as well as the High Holidays—will always be guided by the most up-to-date medical information from federal, state, and city authorities, as well as from our committee of expert lay leaders. Given emerging data on the Delta variant, the COVID Task Force has made the unanimous recommendation to require masking of all worshipers at all services, regardless of vaccination status. Although we love seeing your faces in song and prayer, we believe this is a prudent step at this time. We will also require masks at larger life cycle gatherings where our Clergy are in attendance. This masking requirement will be in effect as of this week’s Shabbat services (Friday, July 30 and Saturday, July 31). We also request that any members with cold symptoms, fever, or extreme fatigue—which may be signs of breakthrough COVID infection in vaccinated persons—livestream services rather than attending in person. 

As with all things over the course of this pandemic, we recognize that the situation can evolve quickly, and we promise to assess and adjust our practices and procedures guided by our core Jewish value of Pikuach Nefesh—the preservation of life. We appreciate the incredible ongoing support of our community and the care you have all shown for each other. We wish you a good rest of the summer and look forward to beginning 5782 by worshipping together.

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