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Pasadena’s Jewish Community Marks Yom Kippur, Judaism’s Holiest Day

Published on Thursday, September 16, 2021 | 6:03 am
(Image by John Theodor/Shutterstock)

Members of Pasadena’s Jewish community are observing Yom Kippur — Judaism’s holiest and most somber day — which began at sundown Wednesday.

The holiday is one reserved for reflection, repentance and forgiveness, according to the Pasadena Jewish Temple & Center.

The PJTC is conducting both streamed and in-person services all day today, as is the Chabad of Pasadena.

“Last year during the High Holidays, when indoor services in Los Angeles were prohibited under public health orders, the Jewish community found ways to be together spiritually even while apart physically,” said Rabbi Ilana Grinblat, vice president of community engagement for the Board of Rabbis of Southern California at The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.

“Virtual services gave us the ability to transcend geography and join with people throughout the country and the world in prayer, song and learning. As the pandemic continues, this medium remains a powerful way of connection for many synagogues.”

Yom Kippur concludes at sundown Thursday, ending the 10-day period on the Jewish calendar known as Days of Teshuvah, which is variously translated as repentance, return and change. Many Jews fast on Yom Kippur and customarily spend much of the time in synagogues.

According to Jewish tradition, Yom Kippur is the day on which Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the second set of commandment tablets — he had smashed the first — and announced God’s pardon to the people for worshipping a golden calf.

Observant Jews believe that God inscribes the names of the righteous in the Book of Life on Rosh Hashana and seals the book on Yom Kippur, 10 days later.

For that reason, the traditional greeting among Jews on Yom Kippur is Gemar Chatima Tova, which means “good final sealing” and conveys the wish: “May your name be sealed in the book of life.”

Yom Kippur services begin with the Kol Nidre, an ancient prayer that literally means “all vows” or “all promises.” The last service of the day ends with the sounding of a shofar.

In his Yom Kippur message, President Joe Biden said, “For millennia, Jewish communities have marked Yom Kippur as an occasion to reflect and pray; fast and seek forgiveness; account for past transgressions, and commit to future change.

“At its core, this sacred and solemn day reaffirms a universal principle at the essence of our humanity: that, through word and deed, we each have the ability to right wrongs, mend rifts, and heal wounds. That every place where we have fallen short provides an opportunity for growth, and that by acknowledging shortcomings with honesty and humility, before our Creator and to one another, we can forge a more promising future for ourselves, for our communities and for our country.”

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