High Holidays at The City Congregation
Yes, there are Secular High Holiday services
Join us for beautiful and moving services of music and contemplation that express traditional Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur themes while honoring human reason and human dignity. Our observances combine familiar passages with innovative language so that cultural Jews can mark these holidays in a way that is consistent with humanistic beliefs.
Secular Rosh Hashanah services
Humanistic Jews observe Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, as a time for self-reflection and self-examination. Traditionally a period of divine judgment and divine terror, the Days of Awe are for us a powerful opportunity for assessment, repair, change, and growth. Services are led by Rabbi Peter Schweitzer with participatory readings from members and are followed by an optional community meal.
Read a passage from our secular Rosh Hashanah service.
Print a booklet of our secular Rosh Hashanah blessings for use at home.
Secular Yom Kippur services
Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is traditionally a time for confessing sins and seeking repentance. In Humanistic Judaism, Yom Kippur guides us to seek and offer forgiveness among ourselves. In recognizing the wrongs we have done and confessing before one another we affirm our belief in human responsibility for our own lives, behavior, and future.
Our Yom Kippur observances also include the personal reflections of members who are chosen to prepare presentations on a relevant theme. Past subjects have included tolerance, skepticism, memory, anger, and forgiveness.
Also on Yom Kippur all members and guests are invited to speak aloud the names of their deceased loved ones for a moving memorial service and the recitation of a modern secular kaddish.
Get details about our Sept. 14, 2013 Yom Kippur program.
Read a passage from our secular Yom Kippur service.
The services honored what I honored and didn't sound one false note. And the communal meal and conversations afterward have especially made the holidays something to look forward to. — Claire
Secular High Holiday programs for children
On Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, children aged 4 through 10 who don’t wish to join their parents for the adult services can participate in a dynamic children’s program.
Secular Kol Nidre services
Kol Nidre, observed the night before Yom Kippur, derives its name from the famous melody sung at this service. Ours is an innovative program of reflection through non-theistic literature and music. We contemplate the meaning of making vows and resolutions. And we offer a dramatic presentation of a modern Jewish literary classic that explores the themes of the holidays.
Get details about our Sept. 13, 2013 Kol Nidre program.
Read a passage from our secular Kol Nidre service.
Everyone is welcome
Many of us are unabashedly atheist or agnostic. Others are comfortable with a belief in God or a higher power but live our lives with an emphasis on human responsibility. At The City Congregation’s secular High Holidays services we have all found a connection to our heritage and the wider Jewish world. We hope you will join us.