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Greenburgh Congregation Prepares For Yom Kippur

GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Jews in Greenburgh are preparing to celebrate Yom Kippur, perhaps the holiest day in the Jewish calendar.

Rabbi Mara Young, of the Woodlands Community Temple on Worthington Road, said the congregation, which counts around 400 families as members, expects between 800 to 1,000 people to attend each of the main services on Friday and Saturday.

Yom Kippur means Day of Atonement, when Jews are supposed to reflect on their behavior during the previous year and ask for God’s forgiveness. Before the service, they should seek reconciliation with people whom they might have wronged.

Young said that even secular Jews who don’t have the habit of going to synagogue usually attend the Yom Kippur services. That happens not only due to the importance of the holiday, she said, but also because Yom Kippur emphasizes family and community bonds.

“It's not only me asking for forgiveness,” she said of Jews’ thoughts during Yom Kippur. “I am also here to support my fellow Jews in their acts of repentance.”

In the same way, Yom Kippur is not just about making the individual better, Young said. It’s also about making the world better.

“It's not only saying, ‘I sinned last year. Oops, forgive me,’ but more so, it’s to say, ‘How can I change? How can I do better?’” she said.

With exceptions including children and the ill, all Jews are expected to fast, which according to Young is a way to “temper your evil inclinations.”

“The fast is supposed to mirror your spiritual journey on the holiday,” she said.

Yom Kippur begins Friday night with Kol Nidre, the name of the song-text that begins the service. The phrase “kol nidre” means “all vows.” It essentially declares that all vows made with God be annulled if we fail to live up to them.

Jews will break their fast at sundown Saturday.

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