The High Holy Day season begins with Selichot on the Saturday evening preceding Rosh Hashanah. The evening begins with a pre-service program followed by a collation in the temple’s Social Hall. The service in the sanctuary begins at 9:00 PM.

Services begin at 8:00 p.m. for erev Rosh Hashanah and Kol Nidre. Morning services begin at 10:00 a.m. They are led by our Rabbi and Cantor, accompanied by our organist and professional choir. Following morning services on Rosh Hashanah (first day) and Yom Kippur, at 1:00 pm.

Riverdale Temple offers a family service, open to the entire community. Our Junior Choir assists the Rabbi and Cantor in leading a musical service complete with stories, favorite High Holy Day melodies, the sounding of the shofar, and a wonderful introduction to our congregation’s approach to early Jewish education.

Rosh Hashanah is celebrated for two days. Second day morning services are open to the public. All are welcome. The second day service includes a Torah discussion similar to our regular Sabbath morning services, where congregational participation is encouraged. Come join in a lively conversation about some of the central issues of these solemn days.

Festivals: The three pilgrimage festivals, Sukkot, Passover, and Shavuot, are celebrated according to the Israeli calendar. Yizkor is observed on the 8th day of Sukkot, the 7th day of Passover, and the first day of Shavuot. Second day observances usually consist of study sessions, often lay-led.

The congregation erects a beautiful (award-winning) sukkah in the area directly in front of our entrance. It is used by our schools, affiliate organizations, and congregation throughout the week of Sukkot. Neighbors who are not able to build their own sukkot are welcome to enjoy a meal in ours. Please feel free to contact the temple office to let us know when you would like to use it so that our security system does not inadvertantly alert the police to your observance of the mitzvah of “dwelling in the sukkah.”

Simchat Torah is observed on the night of Atzeret-Simchat Torah so that our celebration coincides with that of our neighbors. A second-night Seder is held each year in the Social Hall. All are welcome to attend, but reservations are required. A tikkun leil-Shavuot is held on the evening of Shavuot, accompanied by a pot-luck array of favorite dairy concoctions.

Special services are also held throughout the year to commemorate special days/holidays on the Jewish calendar such as Yom Ha’Shoah (Holocaust Remembrance), Yom Ha’atzma’ut (Israel’s Independence Day), and Shabbat Shirah (the Sabbath of Song).

On Erev Purim, after a brief service in the spirit of the holiday,The Riverdale Temple Players, a changing band of good spirited temple members, set the story of Esther to music, merriment and mayhem.

Each year a new farcical script, filled with silliness for the children and subtle satire for the adults, is created by our own in-house talent. This is combined with the selection of a musical theme of easily recognized compositions with lyrics rewritten to tell the age-old story. Temple members and our neighbors have been treated to the story of Purim to the music of the Beatles, Broadway, Disney, Rodgers and Hammerstein, and operatic classics. Complete with costumes, backdrops and comical staging, our sanctuary is transformed into the palace of Shushan.

Annual cast calls are held to all temple members who can sing, or like to act or are willing to direct, produce, play an instrument, or build props and sew costumes. Auditions, followed by a series of rehearsals, culminate in a holiday celebration enjoyed by congregants of all ages.

More About Purim

According to the biblical Book of Esther (9:20–28) the holiday of Purim was instituted by her uncle, Mordecai, to celebrate the deliverance of the Jews from Haman ‘s plot to kill them. “Purim” comes from the Akkadian “pūrū” meaning “lots.” In the book of Esther, Haman cast lots in order to determine the month in he would kill the Jews.

Purim is celebrated on the 14th of Adar (Adar II in a leap year such as this). The Jews of Shushan celebrated their deliverance on the day after, which became known as Shushan Purim. Out of respect for Jerusalem, it is said, the day is still kept by Jews living in cities which had a wall around them “from the days of Joshua.” Thus in present-day Israel Purim is celebrated in Jerusalem on the 15th, but in Tel Aviv on the 14th.

PLEASE NOTE THAT ALL SERVICES EXCEPT FOR ROSH HASHANAH AND YOM KIPPUR ARE ALWAYS OPEN TO THE PUBLIC — REGARDLESS OF RELIGIOUS BACKGROUND. (If you are a visitor, or new to Riverdale and are looking for a place to observe the High Holy Days, please contact our office and we will make sure that you are able to join us for worship!)


Hanukkah (alternately spelled Chanukah), meaning “dedication” in Hebrew, refers to the joyous eight-day celebration during which Jews commemorate the victory of the Maccabees over the armies of Syria in 165 B.C.E. and the subsequent liberation and “rededication” of the Temple in Jerusalem. The modern home celebration of Hanukkah centers around the lighting of the chanukiyah, a special menorah for Hanukkah; foods prepared in oil including latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly donuts); and special songs and games.

Hanukah Blessings

Candles are added to the Hanukiyah from right to left but are kindled from left to right. The newest candle is lit first. (On the Shabbat of Hanukkah, kindle the Hanukkah lights first and then the Shabbat candles.)

Light the Shamash – the helper candle – first using it to kindle the rest of the Hanukkah lights; say or sing:

Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tsivanu l’hadlik ner shel Hanukkah.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of all, who hallows us with mitzvot, commanding us to kindle the Hanukkah lights.

Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, she-asah nisim laavoteinu v’imoteinu bayamim hahaeim baz’man hazeh.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of all, who performed wonderous deeds for our ancestors in days of old at this season.

For first night only:

Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, shehecheyanu v’kiy’manu v’higianu laz’man hazeh.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of all, for giving us life, for sustaining us, and for enabling us to reach this season.


Hanukkah Song 

Maoz Tzur (Rock of Ages)

Maoz tzur yeshuati, l’cha na’eh l’shabeiach
Tikon beit t’filati, v’sham todah n’zabeiach
L’eit tachin matbeiach, mitzar ham’nabeiach
Az egmor, b’shir mizmor, chanukat hamizbeiach 
Rock of ages let our song, praise Your saving power
You amidst the raging foes, were our sheltering tower
Furious they assailed us, but Your arm availed us
And Your word broke their sword When our own strength failed us

Hanukah Latkes

The recipe comes from a cookbook, Elegant Essen authored by the Sisterhood of the East Northport Jewish Center, and published in 1973.

(courtesy from Helen Krim).

Potato Latkes
6 medium potatoes
2 eggs
2 Medium onions
Vegetable oil
1/2 cup bread crumbs or matzoh meal
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
Peel and Grate the Potatoes. I use a Cuisinart grater, then the puree attachment for a few pulses. 
But leave enough grated to give texture.  Grate the onion.  Add eggs, salt, pepper and bread crumbs. 
Mix well. Heat the oil 1/4 inch deep in a large frying pan.  Brown until crisp on both sides. 
Turn only once.  Drain on paper towels.  Serve with sour cream and apple sauce.
They are delicious.