6 congregations observe Yom Kippur

September 15, 1994|By Alisa Samuels | Alisa Samuels,Sun Staff Writer

Beginning last night, members of Howard County's six Jewish congregations joined Jews worldwide in observing Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, which marks the end 10 days of penitence.

"This is the most sacred day of the Jewish year," said Rabbi Kenneth L. Cohen of Beth Shalom, a conservative congregation that meets in the Owen Brown Interfaith Center. "It's when Jews who are most estranged from tradition return to their roots.

"It's a time to renew old acquaintances with one another and our Creator. It's an opportunity to make up to God and to our fellow persons."

The Day of Atonement, which began at sundown yesterday, is theculmination of the 10-day period that began Sept. 5 with Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, which this year marked the start of the Year 5755 in the Jewish calendar.

The 10-day period is known as the Days of Awe, said Rabbi Herbert Kumin, of the Academy for Higher Learning Calah Services, which meets at Owen Brown Middle School.

"Awe means you are taking on a feeling and also a resolve to try to improve yourself as much as you can," Rabbi Kumin said. Yom Kippur is "the most important, although every day is important. . . . You can repent any time of the year."

On Yom Kippur, Jewish people fast, pray, read the Torah, ask for forgiveness and forgive others.

"It's basically a day of prayer, atonement and to improve yourself," said Rabbi Kumin. "It's a very beautiful holiday."

Among the solemn observances are Kol Nidre, or the prayer of atonement, which is recited in synagogues at the opening of Yom Kippur services.

"Every Jewish person is saying it all over the world," said Mr. Kumin, whose congregation numbers about 600. "It's a very beautiful way of opening the New Year with prayer, forgiveness, forgiveness of yourself."

Other services include the Musaf, or reading of the Torah; the Yizkor, a memorial service at which names of the dead are read; and a service in which people break their fast.

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