Several years ago we added a service for the second day of Rosh Hashana. The other holidays are celebrated for two days outside of Israel and one day there, but Rosh Hashana is celebrated for two days everywhere. The Reform movement follows the Israeli calendar (holding that the reason for the extra day no longer applies), but many Reform congregations eliminate the extra day for Rosh Hashana too. Our rabbi decided (with support from other leaders) that if we say we follow the Israeli calendar we should really do it, hence the second day.
Our second-day service is more intimate than the first-day service,
but is still a complete service. Members of the congregation share
in leading the service and do the torah-reading. There isn't a big
sermon like on the first day, but there's a shorter message.
Over the years some people have told us that this is their favorite service, preferring it over the grand service on the first day.
As expected, turnout is rather lower for the second day. We started in a year where the second day fell on a Sunday and got about 50 people that year; on weekdays attendance is lower. Last year at this service we re-dedicated the chapel after renovations and got an attendance boost. This year, the second day was on a Tuesday.
We had about 80 people. Some were visitors from out of town who came with members, some I didn't know at all, and some sought us out because we're apparently the only local Reform congregation that does this. We got lots of thanks and compliments after the service.
One lesson I take from this: we have got to start advertising this. We offer a service that fills a void no one else is filling, and we do it well. We don't require tickets on the second day; anybody who hears about it is welcome to come. Next year I want to work a little on helping people to hear about it, like we did with our amazingly-successful children's service on the first day. (Last year we outgrew our space, so this year we rented space down the street at the JCC. As long as we were renting a hall anyway, we invited the community -- and got twice as many people as last year.)
Our second-day service is really pretty special. I'm glad we started it.