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Entering the High Holy Days

By Reuven Hammer / Jewish Publication Society / 1998


Print: $18.00


Entering the High Holy Days provides historical background and an interpretation of the ideas, practices, and the liturgy of Judaism’s High Holy Days, giving them contemporary relevance. This classic guide to the most important days of the Jewish year was a recipient of the 1998 National Jewish Book Award.

The High Holy Days’ have their foundations in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible. Hence, their liturgies and rituals are rife with Scriptural allusions and influences. Their origins can be traced to the books of Leviticus, Isaiah, Job, Psalms and numerous other books throughout the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible. With Entering the High Holy Days, you can deepen your understanding of both the significance and the contemporary observance of these important parts of the Biblical narrative.

The High Holy Days – Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur – are for many Jews the highlight of the Jewish year. However, the liturgies for these “Days of Awe” are the longest and most complex of the High Holidays. This often leaves a large number of attendees without a complete understanding of the occasion's significance. Entering the High Holy Days remedies this by presenting in-depth explanations of the themes, prayers, and other elements of the services.


  • The Days of Awe: Origins and Development
  • The Meaning of the Yamim Noraʾim
  • Beginning the Journey: Preparing for the High Holy Days
  • The Rosh Hashanah Liturgy I: Arvit and Shaḥarit
  • The Rosh Hashanah Liturgy II: From Musaf to Tashlikh
  • Opportunities for Change: The Ten Days of Penitence
  • The Yom Kippur Liturgy I: Kol Nidre
  • The Yom Kippur Liturgy II: Arvit
  • The Yom Kippur Liturgy III: Services of Yom Kippur Day
  • Biblical Readings for the Yamim Noraʾim

Praise for the Print Edition

Hammer’s lucid commentary offers us a deeper understanding and appreciation of the service as a spiritual aid in the process of atonement.

Reform Judaism

[A] scholarly and eminently readable book, Entering the High Holy Days will help the reader come into the synagogue on Rosh Hashanah better equipped to leave it on Yom Kippur.

Philadelphia Inquirer

Rabbi Reuven Hammer's superb explanation of all aspects of the High Holy Days is one of the best resources available on the subject.


Product Details

  • Title: Entering the High Holy Days: A Complete Guide to the History, Prayers and Themes
  • Author: Reuven Hammer
  • Publisher: Jewish Publication Society
  • Publication Date: 1998
  • Pages: 252

About Reuven Hammer

Reuven Hammer received his ordination and doctorate in theology from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. He is the former president of the Rabbinical Assembly and head of the Rabbinical Court of the Masorti Movement.

About the Jewish Publication Society

The Jewish Publication Society of America was founded in Philadelphia in 1888 to provide the children of Jewish immigrants to America with books about their heritage in the language of the New World. As the oldest publisher of Jewish titles in the English language, the mission of JPS is to enhance Jewish culture by promoting the dissemination of religious and secular works of exceptional quality, in the United States and abroad, to all individuals and institutions interested in past and contemporary Jewish life.

Over the years JPS has issued a body of works for all tastes and needs. Its many titles include biographies, histories, art books, holiday anthologies, books for young readers, religious and philosophical studies, and translations of scholarly and popular classics. It is perhaps known best for its famous JPS Tanakh, the translation of the Hebrew Bible in English from the original Hebrew. You can find more information about JPS by visiting their website.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition