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Armonk Rabbi Talks About Importance of Yom Kippur

ARMONK, N.Y. – Jews in North Castle are preparing to celebrate Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year. Rabbi Seth Limmer of Congregation B’nai Israel in Armonk is excited for the special holiday.

“Yom Kippur is about our human potential to change and to take the things we’ve done in the past that we’re not proud of, own up to them, and know that we have it in us to change and do better in the future,” Limmer said. “I don’t think there’s anything more fundamentally important in any religious tradition than the ability to believe in yourself.”

Yom Kippur means Day of Atonement. With exceptions such as children and the ill, all Jews 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.

Limmer said, like all places of worship during major holidays, he expects a full house at the series of Yom Kippur services, which begin Friday night. The Congregation even expanded its capacity by bringing in a large white tent to accommodate more people.

“I imagine that for our Christian neighbors there are a lot more people there on Christmas and Easter than on an average Sunday morning,” Limmer said.

With so much tradition surrounding Yom Kippur, Limmer said he thinks Congregation B’nai Israel does one major thing during the holiday that stands out from other Jewish congregations.

“After our morning service is over, we invite our neighbors and every year we have an interfaith dialogue,” Limmer said. “We have members of the Upper Westchester Muslim Society, local members of the Hindi community, and some local clergy including Father Joshua Condon of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Armonk.”

The purpose of welcoming other religious neighbors is to take time to think about what each has in common and this year the theme is civility, according to Limmer.

“For us here at our congregation, we think it’s important – on our most sacred day of the year – to share it with our neighbors to remind us all that as important as this day is for Jews, we’re part of a larger world and we want to connect to that,” Limmer said.

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