As many of Brooklyn’s “once-a-year Jews” are well aware, full-price tickets for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur can easily cost more than a Broadway show—not because all synagogues are greedy (though who knows, some might be) but because they have to pay the bills somehow since they don’t pass the cup at weekly sabbath services. But you don’t have to drop Gs to get right with G*D, thanks to a number of Brooklyn synagogues that offer little- and no-cost admission on the big days this year: Rosh Hashanah, starting Friday night, Sept. 18; and Yom Kippur, which starts on Sunday night, Sept. 27, and runs through the next day. Deals below generally apply to all-inclusive tickets for both.
Free for all
Kolot Chayeinu, 1012 Eighth Ave. at 10th St., 718-390-7493
Kolot’s motto is “building a progressive Jewish community,” and they’re serious about the progressive part. The congregation is led by a lesbian rabbi, and the members are “individuals of varying sexual orientations, gender identities, races, family arrangements, and jewish identities and backgrounds.” High holiday services are free and open to all, but get there early, because there are no reserved seats.
Ohel Ayalah, at the Brooklyn Lyceum, 227 Fourth Ave. at President St.
Ohel Ayalah is a self-proclaimed place for young people, or any people really, who don’t have a place to go for the high holidays. Their services are free and open to walk-ins. According to the web site, the services will be egalitarian (both men and women will lead), and they’ll be mostly in Hebrew, but with some interspersed English “explanations, comments, and readings.”
Chabad-Lubavitch centers (various locations)
Chabad is a Hasidic movement of orthodox Judaism, so services at the many Chabad synagogues around Brooklyn won’t be of the watered-down variety. They’ll be in Hebrew, with separate sections for men and women. But since Chabad as a whole is all about getting Jews to be more religious, go into this with your eyes open, because if you’re a spiritual seeker, you might soon find yourself on the road to black hatsville. (It’s sometimes called “flipping” and it happens all the time). According to one Rabbi we spoke to, some Chabad synagogues require reservations and some don’t. So, check out the list at the above link, and see what’s what in your neighborhood.
Bay Ridge Jewish Center, 405 81st St. at Fourth Ave., 718-836-3103
BRJC is a Conservative egalitarian congregation that seems, from its web site anyway, like a big, family-friendly place. There’ll be Rosh Hashanah apples, honey and challah, and a break-fast meal after Yom Kippur. And the picture on the web site makes the sanctuary look bright and airy. Services are free, but tickets are required, so print and mail the reservation form here or call the number above.
Congregation Beth Elohim, 274 Garfield Place at Eighth Ave., 718-768-3814
CBE claims to be the largest Reform synagogue in Brooklyn, with over 1000 members led by Andy Bachman—a hipstery sort, at least as far as rabbis go, with a cult following among Slopers. The way to get in here for free is through the Brooklyn Jews service, CBE’s “20s and 30s Initiative” designed to get young people and families involved in Judaism. Go to the Brooklyn Jews web site, join for free, and you can get tickets to their services. Although geared toward the younger crowd, it looks like anyone can join.
Free for some
Brooklyn Heights Synagogue, 131 Remsen St. at Clinton St., 718-522-2070
This Reform congregation is another biggie, with over 300 members including some even from Manhattan. High holiday services are held at a couple of locations—the synagogue itself and at a larger nearby church. If you’re a student or member of the military, just show up with your ID for a free ticket to any service. Otherwise, your free options are limited; the high holiday schedule on the web site lists which services are non-ticketed.
Union Temple, 17 Eastern Parkway, between Underhill Ave. & Plaza St. E., 718-638-7600
Founded in 1848, this Reform congregation is the oldest Jewish organization in Brooklyn. The great deal here is for young people. If you’re under 30, you can can get your free high holiday tickets just by joining the temple for one year (also for free).
Cheap for some
Temple Beth Emeth v’Ohr Progressive Shaari Zedek, 83 Marlborough Rd. at Church Ave., 718-282-1596
This long-named congregation is the last Reform synagogue in Flatbush. Not the largest in the list, Beth Emeth, as it’s more commonly known, has a mixture of young local families and older long-time members. English is prevalent at services here, and there’s always something for the kids. First-time visitors can buy an all-inclusive high holiday ticket for $18. But if you show up and can’t afford the $18, you probably won’t be turned away.