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Pound Ridge Jews Prepare for Yom Kippur

POUND RIDGE, N.Y. – The Pound Ridge Jewish Community will gather together beginning at sunset Friday night to mark Yom Kippur – known as the Day of Atonement – the faith's most solemn holiday.

The holiday signifies the end of a 10-day period that follows Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New York, known as the Days of Awe.

"The idea of the day is that it is a contemplative day," said Rabbi Nancy Wiener, rabbi for the Pound Ridge Jewish Community. "You reflect on how you've acted in the past year and the wrongs you've done and confess those wrongs and commit to doing better. It's a period of reflection that starts with Rosh Hashanah and continues through Yom Kippur."

Wiener said that the holiday dates back to when the ancient Israel community would gather at the temple and a priest would engage in rituals that absolve the sins of the community and individuals.

Tradition calls for Jews to fast on Yom Kippur, from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday.

"Yom Kippur is more solemn at the start of the day and as it progress there is more a sense of relief," she said.

The Pound Ridge Jewish Community services will be held at Stevens Memorial Church. They begin Friday night at 8 p.m. with a service known as Kol Nidre ("all our vows").

The prayer for Kol Nidre, Wiener said, is unique to Yom Kippur and was created by Jews who hid during the Spanish Inquisition. During that time, Jews were often forced to renounce their faith in order to save their lives. The prayer was created to ask forgiveness for doing that.

"The congregation is asked a number of times to participate in a communal confession," the rabbi said. "But we never said 'I' – it's always 'we.' None of us are immune."

Services that follow Kol Nidre begin on Saturday. At 9:30 a.m. there will be service for young children, Pre-K through second grade. At 10:30 a.m. there will be an adult service followed by adult study at 3 p.m. The concluding/memorial service, known as Yizkor Ne'Ilah, will be held at 4 p.m. Then the Community will break their fast with a pot luck dinner.

"Family and friends will often get together for a feast to break the fast," Wiener said. "The fast helps us to not think about external things."

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