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Larchmont Synagogue Celebrates Yom Kippur

MAMARONECK, N.Y. -- Rabbi Alfredo Borodowski expects a full house at his Larchmont synagogue for Yom Kippur services, which begin sundown Friday.

Services begin 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.

"The number one ritual at synagogue for the modern Jew is Yom Kippur," said Borodowski, of Sulam Yaakov on 2111 Boston Post Road. "You're going to see a lot of people who you don't see throughout the year – they are not going to miss Yom Kippur."

Daniella Koller, a Larchmont resident, will attend the Friday night and Saturday morning services with her family, who belong to the Westchester Jewish Center. They regularly attend the Saturday service, called Shabbat, throughout the year, but know many who only attend on the high holy days.

"Yom Kippur has become the day where even people who don't feel religious come to the services," Borodowski said.

Yom Kippur means Day of Atonement. All Jews – except for children and the ill – are expected to fast. The fast will be "broken" at sundown Saturday. In addition, all Jews are taught to reflect on their behavior during the previous year and seek God’s forgiveness. Before the service, they should seek reconciliation with people whom they might have wronged.

"It's a day where we come together as a community looking to review last year and try to have an honest, internal assessment of where we are and where we should go," he said. "We do it through different techniques – fasting, praying – all trying to separate ourselves from things of luxury."

Borodowski introduces music into his services, which, he said, isn't that common.

"We use musical instruments, which most synagogues do not within Westchester," said Borodowski, whose synagogue is on the progressive side of the conservative movement.

“Saturday mornings we don't have a sermon, we have a study class. We believe a monologue needs to be replaced with a dialogue," he said.

The Argentinian rabbi plays the African Jembee (percussion) for the band during Sulam Yaakov's monthly Friday service.

"We keep the solemnity of the holy days, but we are a congregation based on music and full participation," he said. "We're trying to really find Judaism as a religion of music and participation – and joy, when it's appropriate."

Services are every Saturday morning 9:30 a.m. and one Friday a month at 6:30 p.m.  If you're interested in attending a Friday service, contact Karen Greene at 914-834-1093.

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