What if I did one-day yom tov, but went to shul on day two anyway?

Reports of my complete departure from the Reform ideological fold have been greatly exaggerated. I’m not backing away from doing one-day yom tov this year, though I’m tempted to test drive two-day yom tov sooner or later. But I have been thinking about how to attend a second-day RH service and participating as fully as I can–all without compromising my one-day values.

(Some background on an approach to two-day yom tov that I’m particularly fond of can’t hurt, so here’s BZ’s material on it: Israelis are lazy, “ONE DAY ONLY!” parts 1a, 1b and 2, “Ontology of yom tov” and “Hilchot Pluralism, Part VIII: Simchat Torah.”)

Anyway, I’m writing this as I figure out how to do this. Here’s my thinking so far: On day two I could go to shul and the only two things I’d really have to do differently is say a weekday Amidah while everyone else does their RH Amidah and recuse myself from Musaf.

And since any piyutim and whatnot are just that, I could play along with those just fine.

Right? Does that make sense?

, , , , , , , , , , ,

21 Responses to What if I did one-day yom tov, but went to shul on day two anyway?

  1. John Wofford September 27, 2011 at 8:38 pm #

    Complicated-ish, but I see where you’re coming from. Try it, blog it. I might try it next year after some reflection– would love to see if it meant anything for you.

    • David A.M. Wilensky September 27, 2011 at 8:39 pm #

      The reason I want to try it is twofold: First, I’ve just never been to the second day of Rosh Hashanah. And second, more liturgy is always better.

  2. Geoff September 27, 2011 at 8:42 pm #

    I’ve been to 2nd day RH at a Reform shul before. Wake me when you start going to 2nd day Sukkot.

    • BZ September 27, 2011 at 9:24 pm #

      Reform Jews do the 2nd day of Sukkot… and the 3rd and 4th too!

      • Geoff September 28, 2011 at 12:29 am #

        Yes, yes, you win this round. I was insufficiently precise in my riposte.

      • David A.M. Wilensky October 1, 2011 at 3:22 pm #


    • David A.M. Wilensky October 1, 2011 at 3:22 pm #

      It’s not a matter of going or not going. My point here is about what I do when I get there.

  3. BZ September 27, 2011 at 9:35 pm #

    Yes, that sounds reasonable. And depending how late they start musaf, you may be able to do a weekday mincha amidah at that point!

    However, while it is a totally reasonable position to stick with your current practice and do one day of Rosh Hashanah (and everything else), you should note that if you ever decide to do two days (or “one long day”) of Rosh Hashanah, this doesn’t make you a “two-day yom tov” person. It is an entirely self-consistent position to do two days (or “one long day”) of Rosh Hashanah and one day of all the other yamim tovim; this is the position of some Reform, most Reconstructionist, and all Israeli communities. This is because 2-day RH originated much earlier than 2-day festivals (2-day RH appears in the Mishnah, and the others don’t), and for different reasons. I’m happy to elaborate on this if you’re interested; in fact, maybe I should write a Mah Rabu post about this (though it’s not going to happen in time for Rosh Hashanah 5772). Anyway, most of the Mah Rabu posts you link to about 2-day yom tov in general aren’t dealing with Rosh Hashanah.

    • Geoff September 28, 2011 at 12:32 am #

      The story of how we got two-day Yom Tov is actually sufficiently interesting that I can sometimes get even non-Jews interested in it when I’m doing my regular complaining about two-day Yom Tov. I still haven’t seen anywhere in the classical sources where they discuss how fast the shluchim could get from the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem to Brooklyn; let me know if you find anything.

    • David A.M. Wilensky October 1, 2011 at 3:24 pm #

      Yeah, I only just learned about all this right after I wrote this post. I have a vague notion now of what’s going on, but I definitely want you to write about it!

  4. Laura September 27, 2011 at 9:49 pm #

    I’m recalling what BZ said about how people might start abandoning two day yom tov after all these three-day weekends that are coming up. It all makes sense to me now that RH is corresponding with midterms…

    Anyway, I wonder this too. The question of what to do when you’re not meaning to do what everyone else is, is unusually relevant to me. Like when you’ve said Shema before the service but the congregation is saying it etc. I guess it’s similar.

    Try it, blog it.

    • Geoff September 28, 2011 at 12:37 am #

      I seem to recall something about Chazal not making a decree if most of Am Yisrael would be unable to follow it. I’m not sure why this principle can’t be applied to telling people to take off an extra week of holidays every year simply because it was once the custom in Bavel. And does anyone really think that Moshiach could come and reinstitute Kiddush HaChodesh, but yet be unable to transmit the declaration instantly and reliably around the world? So then what are we waiting for?

  5. Theophrastus September 27, 2011 at 9:51 pm #

    David — whatever works for you. But I don’t think you need to apologize for davening a second day if you want — the entire period of Yamim Noraim is sacred, and if want to go to shul and offer a prayer, I don’t think you are betraying the Reform movement.

    Plus, what about all these Reform congregations that report having a second day: http://urj.org/worship/wisdom/rosh_hashanah_second_day_and_night/

  6. gsmckinney September 27, 2011 at 11:32 pm #

    You know my position on adding an extra day to the holiday: I’ll start right after people do a two-day fast for Yom Kippur….

    • BZ September 27, 2011 at 11:33 pm #

      I’ve read that some people tried this in medieval Ashkenaz. Unsurprisingly it didn’t catch on…

  7. Deborah Blausten (@debzybee) September 28, 2011 at 1:14 am #

    you could just move to the UK for the week, our reform communities do two days…

  8. Kerry September 28, 2011 at 5:40 am #

    Although my UK Reform rabbi steadfastly refuses to say shehekianu for the second day while leading services for it, amusingly.