NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Yom Kippur, which begins sundown Sunday and lasts through Monday evening, involves a period of self-reflection, fasting, and in non-pandemic times there would also be crowded formal services in synagogues.
But this year, it’s different.
“Not more than 15 people in this room at any gven time,” said Rabbi Jeremy Kalmanofsky.
Rabbi Kalmanofsky leads Congregation Ansche Chesed. This year, he’ll do it from a synagogue sanctuary that will stay unusually vacant for all of Yom Kippur.
“This year what we have to do differently is everything,” he said.
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That means far fewer people allowed inside, and a four person team of non-Jewish technicians to run livestream services, which the observant can activate ahead of sundown Sunday to sundown Monday, and stay up and running for the entirety of what is considered the holiest day of the year in Judaism.
“That life is ultimately supposed to be crafted to be a wonderful beautiful work of art: Ethically, spiritually, in relationships and the recognition that it often isn’t is what we come together on Yom Kippur to be honest about… in hopes that it helps get us back in touch with the possibility of the best people we can be,” Rabbi Kalmanofsky said.
He says he looks forward to the space filling up again.
“I fully anticipate that even people who made felt alienated that from Jewish life over the years will feel a desire to be in a synagogue to be together as part of the Jewish community when that happens,” he said.
CBS2’s Dave Carlin spoke to young congregation member Daria Weissman.
“I think now I value being in the synagogue a lot more than I did before,” she said. “It makes you think about all the time do you get to spend in the synagogue.”
At Breads Bakery near Union Square, the social distancing makes it look different. Unchanged are the recipes, excitement, and the heart.
“There’s no way better to break your fast with beautiful chocolate babka from Breads Bakery or a nice challah that we make,” said owner Gadi Peleg.
The faithful there say in tough pandemic times this time of atonement, to reflect, is needed now more than ever.
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