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Mamaroneck Student Fasts, Atones on Yom Kippur

MAMARONECK, N.Y. – Daniella Koller will fast from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday for the holiest day of the Jewish year, Yom Kippur.

"Without eating, we have ability to focus on our dialogue with God," said Rabbi Moishe Steigmann, of the Westchester Jewish Center, where Koller attends.

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.

Steigmann said he expects a full house for the series of Yom Kippur services, which begin 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.

Koller, a Mamaroneck High School sophomore, and her family regularly attend Shabbat services during the year, and plan to attend the services Friday night and Saturday morning.

"Yom Kippur is the holiest day in the Jewish year," Steigmann, said. "In many ways, it's the most solemn, but it's also the most joyous. It completes the 10 days of repentance when we ask for forgiveness in hopes of being written into the Book of Life."

While not all Jews attend regular Shabbat services throughout the year, most still observe the high holidays, like Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

"If you've come to every holiday service this year, you're starting off the year right," said Steigmann, who likened it to the Super Bowl. "There are a lot of people who don't watch football, but watch the Super Bowl."

Koller said the majority of her congregation usually attends the Yom Kippur services, which are extended Saturday.

"Part of the reason the service is longer is, what else are we supposed to do during Yom Kippur?" asked Steigmann.

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