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Who should attend Ohel Ayalah?
Nature of Services
Rabbis and Cantors and Locations
High Holiday Midrash
High Holidays Testimonials

Ohel Ayalah offers a free, walk-in service to meet the needs of many Jews, in particular, Jews in their 20s or 30s, who do not have a place to pray on the High Holidays.

Most synagogues require the purchase of a ticket to attend their High Holiday services. Ohel Ayalah does not. Ohel Ayalah believes the Jewish public should be able to worship at services that are free and open to all. Every Jew should be embraced. However, we respect the need of synagogues to charge fees to help defray the costs of their High Holiday services.

Many Jews in New York City do not attend services on the High Holidays. Ohel Ayalah seeks out young Jews who do not feel comfortable in an established synagogue. We want to offer these individuals a communal prayer experience and make it possible for them to live Jewishly on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

three guys, HH12At Ohel Ayalah, it is possible for a Jew to wake up on Rosh Hashanah morning or Kol Nidrei night and say, “I feel like going to the synagogue today (or tonight) and being with other Jews.”

The free, walk-in service at Ohel Ayalah means that young Jews can join a celebration of the High Holidays without having to decide in advance. Every Jew should feel welcome in a synagogue on the High Holidays, whether or not he or she is a member, whether or not he or she made advance arrangements to attend, and whether or not he or she purchases a ticket. This is the mission of Ohel Ayalah.

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Who should attend Ohel Ayalah?

HH12, sitting on floor of PGOhel Ayalah reaches out to people who are not already connected to the Jewish community or its institutions. We imagine that there are many American-born young people, in their 20s and 30s, no longer on campus, who might, spontaneously, decide to “do Jewish” on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. We imagine there are many young Israelis and young Jews from the FSU who also may choose, at the last moment, to find a place to spend “Jewish time” on the High Holidays. And the same goes for inter-faith couples who are looking for a welcoming environment.

Ohel Ayalah will create an instant community for those Jews who celebrate the High Holidays with us. We have room for 325 people in Manhattan, for 200 in Brooklyn, and for 150 in LIC (Queens). Half of the seats may be reserved in advance. The other half is for walk-ins.

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Nature of the Service

photo-5The service will be egalitarian — both men and women will lead — and traditional. The prayers will be chanted in Hebrew, their language of composition, but there will be interspersed English explanations, comments, and readings. We will sing together, talk together, remain silent together, laugh together, break bread together, and study together. The service will aim to be awe-inspiring (literally), and, at the same time, warm and engaging. Your participation will be a key component in creating a community and a worshipful atmosphere.

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Rabbis and Cantors and Locations

m steigman shofarIn Manhattan, at the Prince George Ballroom (15 E 27 St.): Rabbi Judith Hauptman, a professor of Talmud (emerita) at the Jewish Theological Seminary, will lead the services, together with Cantorial Soloist Josh Gorfinkle. Rahel Lerner will serve as Hazzanit Sheniyah (assistant cantor) at most services.

In Brooklyn, at the Hannah Senesh Community Day School (342 Smith St.), Rabbi Pamela Barmash, will again lead the services as both rabbi and cantor.

In LIC (Queens), at Manducatis Rustica (46-33 Vernon Blvd, LIC), Rabbi Hannah Greenstein, will lead the services as both rabbi and cantor.

Visit the Schedules and Location Details page for information on reservations at each location.

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This year, Ohel Ayalah will again offer High Holiday services in three locations: Manhattan, Brooklyn, and LIC (Queens). 

Rosh Hashanah eve, Sunday, September 29: There will be a service in Manhattan (but NOT in Brooklyn or LIC (Queens), 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., followed by apples slices in honey, at Prince George Ballroom, 15 E 27 St. All walk-in.

Rosh Hashanah, first day, Monday, September 30: there will be services at all three venues.

Kol Nidrei night, Tuesday, October 8: there will be services at all three venues. Two back-to-back Kol Nidrei services in Manhattan.

Yom Kippur morning, Wednesday, October 9: there will be services at all three venues.

Yom Kippur, late afternoon, Wednesday, October 9: Ne’ilah, the Yom Kippur closing service, will take place at all three venues.
**The fast ends at 7:10 pm.

For the times and locations of all High Holiday services, and to make reservations (starting Monday, September 9), visit the Schedules and Location Details page.


It is an old Jewish custom on the first day of Rosh Hashanah to go to a flowing body of water and throw in some bread crumbs. As the crumbs disappear, we recite a short paragraph expressing the wish that our sins or misdeeds float away as easily.

Visit the Schedules and Location Details page for schedule details on Tashlich, for each location.

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The Yom Kippur Fast, Duration

The Yom Kippur fast starts on Tuesday, October 8 at sundown, and ends on Wednesday, October 9, at 7:10 pm.

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Reservations are open. Please note that half the seats at all services at all locations are set aside for walk-ins. The other half may be reserved. If you want us to send you a reminder to make a reservation, add your name to the OA email list. We won’t clog your inbox!

THE FOLLOWING SERVICES ARE ALL WALK-IN. No reservations will be taken.
The Rosh Hashanah eve service (which is only in Manhattan) is all walk-in.
The 8:30 p.m. Kol Nidrei service in Manhattan is all walk-in.
The Ne’ilah service, with break-fast following, in all three locations, is all walk-in.

Visit the Schedules and Location Details page for information on reservations at each location.

High Holiday Midrash

“Return O Israel to the Lord your God (Hosea 14:2),” this is like a prince who had run 100 miles away from his father. His loyal advisers said to him, “go back to your father.” He said to them, “I cannot do that.” His father then sent word saying, “return as much as you are able to and I will come out to meet you the rest of the way.” Thus said God to Israel, “If you return to Me, I will return to you,”shuvu eilai v’ashuvah aleichem” (Malachi 3:7, Pesiqta Rabbati, Parashat Shuvah Yisrael).

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High Holy Days Testimonials

Excerpts below:

“What an incredible start to 5777! I woke up on Rosh Hashanah morning feeling Jewish and festively inspired. I wished I made plans to attend a holiday service, and after a few moments of lonesome wallowing in self-punishing regret, I performed a quick google search to see if there was any place I could still go. I discovered Ohel Ayalah, and jumped on a train from Bushwick. Judith Hauptman was charming and inspiring, and the crowd had a great vibe. The lunch afterwards was fantastic- blessed are those that provided the complimentary gefilte fish! I even made a new friend; he’s great. So much gratitude for everyone who helped make this happen! Shanah tovah!” –RG

“I just wanted to send a thank-you to all who made possible the free services you offer.  This was my first year attending your High Holiday services and I actually enjoyed myself!”

“Your boundless energy seemed to get everyone inspired, and it was refreshing to observe the holiday at a place that as open and welcoming to all.  My girlfriend is not Jewish, but she was moved by the service and was able to relate to it.”

“I an so grateful to have found services geared toward people like me, who otherwise, would have no place to go for the holidays.”

“I think you provide a wonderful, generous, educational and spiritual service and fill a great void for those of us unaffiliated Jews in the five boroughs.”

“I thought that the service was excellent. I was thrilled when my cousin informed me about the “affordable” (FREE!) services offered by OhelAyalah.  What a mitzvah!  Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

“It was everything I could want in a service; the stories were meaningful, the energy was good, and the cantor had a striking voice. Thank you so much for making a difference in my life.”

“My friend and I weren’t sure if we would go to a service this Yom Kippur, but yours came up when we googled “free yom kippur service nyc,” and we knew it would be perfect for our situation. So thank you for providing a free, non-membership, youth-friendly, reform-friendly atmosphere tonight–it was a great way to reconnect to that part of my life.”

“For the first time in a long while, I began to remember what had drawn me to search for a stronger understanding about Judaism. Your services, approach and careful consideration of how to engage (what I imagine is) a largely unaffiliated group of young Jewish people is thoughtful, intelligent and purposeful.”

“I was the one who came up to you at the end of the 6:30 Kol Nidrei service and let you know that you are the only Rabbi, EVER, that has made going to Temple enjoyable! So, thank you, thank you, thank you and L’Shana Tova.”

“I moved to New York City three years ago, after graduating from college, and spent the past two years searching for a welcoming, spiritual (and, of course, budget-friendly) high holiday service. I finally found it this year at Ohel Ayalah. Both the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services were reminiscent of ancient traditions and relevant to modern day, a spiritually-meaningful, community-based experience.”

Read more HH Testimonials »